Monthly Archives: January 2011

WESH live truck in accident under Interstate 4

Firefighters attempt to stabilize the WESH 2 live truck before removing reporter Greg Fox and his photographer (Courtesy WKMG)

WKMG’s new 7 p.m. newscast had its first scoop Wednesday night — video of an accident involving a WESH 2 News live van stuck under Interstate 4.

According to Local 6, the Channel 2 van nearly rolled over when the live mast became stuck under the I-4 overpass on Wymore Road, near WESH’s headquarters.

In video shown on WKMG, firefighters attempted to stabilize the vehicle before safely removing WESH reporter Greg Fox and a photographer, identified as “Frank.” Neither was injured.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, “The driver said he had been on Interstate 4 and passed under another overpass successfully and did not know how the mast got into the ‘up’ position.”

Seattle sports guy Gaard Swanson is new WKMG anchor

Gaard Swanson (courtesy

It worked with departing morning anchor Erick Weber — hiring a sports anchor to make the transition to news anchor. So, Local 6 is going to do it again. and report that WKMG is  hiring Gaard Swanson as its new main male anchor. Starting Feb. 3, he will co-anchor the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts with Lauren Rowe.

Swanson is the former sports director at Seattle’s Cox-owned CBS affiliate, KIRO-7. Before joining KIRO in July 2002, he was with Fox Sports Northwest, Fox Sports in LA and Seattle NBC powerhouse KING-5. NewsBlues describes Swanson as “a talented and likable personality” who has been on the beach for more than a year. Since leaving KIRO, he’s been doing freelance work and hosting a series on HGTV. His wife is a freelance weathercaster at Tribune’s KCPQ-Fox 13 in Seattle.

“I think he’s exactly what we were looking for,” WKMG GM Skip Valet told the Sentinel. “He’s a warm and personable guy, an engaging communicator, a family guy, very likable, very smart.”

At WKMG, Swanson will replace Mike Garofalo, who left the Local 6 anchor desk in September to move to Miami to be with his wife. Erick Von Ancken, who has been filling in on the Local 6 anchor desk with Rowe since Garofalo’s departure and was vying for the main anchor gig, will return to his weekend anchor duties.

If Swanson needs any inside info about Orlando, he can turn to a former KIRO colleague, Chris Egertthe former anchor at WFTV and WRDQ moved to the Seattle station in 2007.

Erick Weber leaving Local 6, heading to Boston

WKMG Morning News and noon anchor Erick Weber announced on his Facebook page Monday that he’s leaving Orlando.

“It is with both great excitement and great sadness that I am announcing I have accepted a morning news position in Boston, ” he wrote. “Central Florida has been home to me and my family for the past four years and while I am thrilled with the new opportunity, I will sincerely miss all of you who have made the choice to watch Local 6 during my time in Orlando.”

Weber told the Orlando Sentinel that he’s joining the New England Cable News network as morning news anchor. Coincidently, on Monday NECN launched a revamped version of its morning show — making it more like NBC’s Today or ABC’s Good Morning America. Weber is getting the news reader role on the show.

It was thanks to his time in Orlando that Weber got this break in Boston. Before becoming Local 6’s morning news anchor in 2007, he previously was a sports anchor in Milwaukee. “This was my first news job,” Weber told the Sentinel. “They took a chance on me. They offered me the opportunity to be a morning news guy and craft my skills.”

His last day at Local 6 will be March 2.

One of the things he’ll be remembered for is this well-done parody of the movie Cloverfield. Only this time, there really will be a going-away party for Weber.

Changes afoot at Bright House’s News 13

Wow — I need to go buy a lottery ticket.

Just a day after I made my 2011 predictions for the Orlando TV market — looks like one has come true — and another may be about to.

I received this communication Tuesday afternoon: “CFN13 just laid off news director Sean McNamara.  The general manager, Robin Smythe, announced the news in an e-mail sent [around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday], but did not give a reason.”, meanwhile, reports “Elliott Wiser, the Bright House VP who oversees CFN13 and sister-station Bay News 9 in Tampa (Market #14), has scheduled an attendance-mandatory all-hands-on-deck staff meeting in both newsrooms today. Rumors of news-sharing swirl. The two news operations, reaching an estimated 3.3 million households, are separated by just 85 miles of crowded interstate, and their coverage areas are bumping shoulders. Both news operations have become powerful forces in their respective markets, particularly in the morning and when severe weather threatens.”

Stay tuned.

11 Orlando TV predictions for 2011

Why not bring out the crystal ball and make some predictions for the new year? OK, glad you asked. Here are 11 predictions for 2011:

  • Barbara West will return to Orlando TV. (As she made clear in her final comments on air, it wasn’t her idea to leave WFTV. Some area station will  hire her.)
  • WESH moves ahead of WFTV in the evening ratings after Oprah leaves. (WESH finished ahead of WFTV at 5 p.m. in December and has been slowly closing the gap. Once WFTV loses the Oprah advantage, look for 2 News to overtake Eyewitness News.)
  • WKMG abandons 7 p.m. news, goes with a half hour newscast at 6 p.m. (Nice try, but the audience that wants local news at that hour probably won’t justify the newscast. Plus, just to spite you Local 6, WFTV will launch at 7 p.m. newscast on WRDQ to end any momentum you might gain.)
  • At least one Orlando TV station changes owners. (Once the economy improves, someone will want to get out of broadcasting and someone will want to get in.)
  • Another station will join Fox 35 and drop sports coverage. (Most likley what will happen is that a local station will outsource its sports news to Bright House Sports Network.)
  • Bright House will combine operations for Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13. (OK, maybe a longshot here, but seems to make sense.)
  • Bob Opsahl will retire. (The WFTV anchor legend can’t be expected hang around forever. Time for him to go out on top.)
  • Some station will be smart enough to broadcast the Casey Anthony trial in its entirety on its digital sub channel. (Duh!)
  • WFTV will launch its own 24 hour news/weather channel on its digital sub channel. (Have you seen News 13’s ratings? They are getting better. With digital subchannel WFTV-9.3 just sitting there with a test pattern, why not try the same news-wheel format that has been successful for 13.)
  • WKMG will finally go HD for its newscasts. (I believe it’s the only Post-Newsweek station that hasn’t gone HD. I suppose they will finally take the plunge — if they intend to stay in the news business.)
  • At least two Orlando TV news directors will be shown the door. (Sad but true fact of life in television — the minute you are hired, the clock starts on when you will be fired.)

I would not exactly bet the mortgage on all of those predictions, but I suspect more than half come true. Add yours in the comments area

TV changes in ’11: WKMG, Daily Buzz, Golf Channel

Some big changes with Orlando-based television start on Monday — the first weekday of the new year.

Cellar-dweller WKMG launches its new 7 p.m. newscast with Lauren Rowe as primary anchor. The station has split its hour-long 6 p.m. news into two 30-minute segments with the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric sandwiched in between at 6:30 p.m. Local 6 has been heavily promoting the new 7 p.m. news — but will Orlando folks decide to tune into to it over Jeopardy or Entertainment Tonight?

The Orlando-based The Daily Buzz hits the big time on Monday, with its debut in a top 10 market. The nationally syndicated morning show, based at Full Sail Studios in Winter Park, begins airing on Boston’s WLVI-CW 56. It will be the 165th station to carry the show, but most of those stations are in small markets. How will it fare in the nation’s No. 7 market? Lots of folks will be keeping an eye on the progress. Meanwhile, I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Buzz still airs in Orlando on WRDQ-TV 27 from 6 to 7 a.m., then continues until 9 a.m. on the WRDQ-27.2 digital subchannel.

And not to be left out, Orlando-based Golf Channel gets into the morning show business with the launch of its new show, The Morning Drive. Veteran sports broadcasters Erik Kuselias and Gary Williams anchor the show, which will air from 7 to 9 a.m. each weekday from Orlando. Central Florida icon Arnold Palmer is penciled in to appear on Monday’s first telecast.