Monthly Archives: August 2011

Orlando TV news anchor Scott Harris passes away

Scott Harris helped get News 13 on the air when he joined the news station in 1997. Photo courtesy of CFNews 13

Word came this morning that longtime Orlando TV news anchor Scott Harris had passed away. He was 64 and had been battling kidney cancer.

“Scott died peacefully this morning at Hospice of the Comforter,” News 13 General Manager Robin Smythe told the Orlando Sentinel.

Harris, whose real name was Vincent McGough, started at WESH-Channel 2 in 1977 and spent time at WCPX-Channel 6 and WDBO-AM 580 before moving to Central Florida News 13 for the past 13 years.

In addition to the Orlando Sentinel article, here are other remembrances of Harris…


Veteran Orlando TV news anchor Scott Harris in hospice care

Scott HarrisAnchor/reporter Scott Harris, a familiar face to Orlando TV news watchers since the 1970s, is now in hospice care.

David Waters, Harris’ former colleague at Central Florida News 13, posted this update Saturday on Facebook: “For friends of Scott Harris, stop by if you are up to it. His family is moved by all the people who love him. It is time to mention it like this since a few people hadn’t heard he was in hospice, and have raced to be with him.”

Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker reports that Harris has been battling kidney cancer.

Harris spent his entire career in Florida and is widely regarded for his political knowledge, coverage of the space program and great sense of humor. In the 1970s and ’80s at WESH 2, he co-anchored the evening news with Wayne Bennett and later Carol Granstrom. He also worked as a reporter for WCPX-Channel 6 before joining Central Florida News 13 for its launch in 1997. He was at News 13 until March of this year, when he stopped anchoring. Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell had a great post in March about Harris’ changing role.

Our thoughts — and those of countless others — are with Harris and his family.

Scott Harris from his anchoring day at WESH -- with Wayne Bennett in this 1978 advertisement, then with Dave Marsh, Don Gould and Carol Granstrom in 1982.

Hurricane Irene: Orlando TV’s connection

Former WESH anchor Tom Schaad (right) anchors storm coverage on WAVY-10 in Norfolk.

A couple of notes from a weekend of TV news dominated by Hurricane Irene…

HLN spent Saturday showing coverage from affiliate stations along the East Coast, including Norfolk’s WAVY-NBC 10. On the desk there was former WESH 2 anchor Tom Schaad — a veteran of Orlando’s hurricane-filled season of 2004.

Meanwhile on Sunday, WFTV News Director Bob Jordan — a man who doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind — was busy on Twitter critiquing the New York-centric, doom-and-gloom storm coverage. Some samples of his entertaining tweets:

  • Watching network coverage of the (marginal) hurricane. All I can say is, “Oh, the hyperbole.”
  • In 2004, 5 named storms hit FL. 3 of them (Charley, Frances & Jean) had winds in excess of 115MPH. Sorry NYC, your storm is puny.
  • Some of these network reporters (networks shall remain unnamed) look downright foolish.
  • ABC Reporter informs us that winds are about 20 miles per hour at his location. That’s no typo. TWENTY miles per hour.
  • GMA anchor open at 9A references “MONSTER hurricane.” This is not, has not been and will not be a Monster hurricane. It is a tropical storm.
  • WFTV had more boots on the ground covering the ’04 hurricanes than ABC News does covering this “monster hurricane.”
  • Not much evidence of social media on ABC this morning. They are behind the curve.
  • At 11AM, ABC graphics and copy still refer to Irene as a “hurricane.” This is beyond hype, this is deliberate misinformation.

WESH reporter gets a surprise from Hurricane Irene

WESH reporter Dan Billow gets an unexpected visit from Hurricane Irene.

As Hurricane Irene passed by Central Florida, Orlando’s TV news crews were camped out along to coast to watch waves and report on beach erosion. WESH 2 reporter/meteorologist Dan Billow got an up-close-and-personal interaction with Irene — as he was drenched by a wave on Satellite Beach moments before a live shot.  He wasn’t injured — well, except for perhaps his pride as his crew broke out laughing at Billow’s misfortune. Click here to see the video on


European vacation over — now, back to work

My picture of the Eiffel Tower at night ...

I still have a little jetlag after spending most of the past two weeks on a family vacation in Europe. It was an incredible experience as we toured Paris and Barceolona.

There were visits to Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Versallies and the Louvre while in France, plus Las Ramblas, Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, Montjuïc and Montserrat while in Spain. The history was great in Paris, but the food was better in Barcelona.

And in both countries, I had an opportunity to view their TV news programs. You know what? Despite being divided by the Atlantic and different languages, there really isn’t a lot of difference between American and European news broadcasts.

... at Gaudi's Parc Guell in Barcelona with the family on a beautiful day.

But here’s one difference — one I liked. Euronews, one of local news channels, has a segment called “No Comment” — stories are shown with natural sound and no narration. Some of the segments could be serious — such as a protest in Chile; others could be light-hearted — such as a festival in Russia. But letting the camera “be” the reporter added to the connection between the viewer and the subjects in the reports.

Euronews has a “No Comment” section on its website so you can sample some of the videos. Just click here. Here’s what Euronews says about the segments: “At Euronews we believe in the intelligence of our viewers and we think that the mission of a news channel is to deliver facts without any opinion or bias, so that the viewers can make their own opinion on world events. We also think that sometimes images need no explanation or commentary, which is why we created No Comment … to show the world from a different angle. ”

I hope some of the Orlando TV stations experiment with “no comment” features — because sometimes video images don’t need words.

Fox 35’s Jim Van Fleet heading to Tampa’s WTSP


Meteorologist Jim Van Fleet, who has spent a decade forecasting the weather at WOFL-Fox 35, is heading to Tampa’s WTSP-CBS 10 to take over its chief meteorologist job.

“Fox 35 did make an offer for me to stay and it was a very generous offer, but quite simply this opportunity with WTSP is something meteorologists spend their entire lives working towards, and to have this door open for me right now is a dream come true and one I would be foolish to pass up,” Van Fleet told Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker.

Van Fleet came to WOFL from Texas for Fox 35’s chief meteorologist job — but was bumped after a year when former WFTV chief met Glenn Richards became available and joined Fox 35. Van Fleet ended up on the morning shift, where he became one of the area’s most popular TV personalities.

But you won’t stop seeing Van Fleet on Fox 35 anytime soon. He’ll be in O-Town until his current deal runs out in December. According to, Van Fleet asked to be released early from his WOFL contract but his request was refused. Why? In Tampa, he’ll be competing against Fox O&O WTVT-Fox 13.

NewsBlues also reported that Van Fleet got the new gig after WTSP GM Ken Tonning saw him on TV while visiting Gainesville. After being contacted by the WTSP, Van Fleet — who didn’t have an agent — hired Rick Carr, who got the deal done.

WTSP announced Van Fleet’s hiring on its website Monday afternoon.