To even the most casual Orlando TV news watcher, this will come as no surprise: Search engine Bing on Tuesday listed the top searches for 2011 — and Orlando’s own Casey Anthony topped the list as the most searched news term.
The Casey Anthony-Caylee Anthony saga played out over several years on Orlando TV news, culminating this summer with the jury verdict that found the mother not guilty of her young daughter’s death. As you recall, Orlando stations saw huge viewership surges with their extended coverage during the trial, with all the area stations eventually breaking down and carrying it gavel-to-gavel each day. WKMG even started bumping CBS primetime shows to air trial specials.
Even today, if you do a search on “Casey Anthony trial” on Google, WFTV.com still ranks high — just behind market web leader OrlandoSentinel.com.
By the way, behind “Casey Anthony trial” as the top news search team of 2011 was “Osama Bin Laden death” at No. 2 followed by “Hurricane Irene” at No. 3. Incredible.
It’s almost 2012, and WKMG-Local 6 join its fellow Post-Newsweek stations in offering free airtime to candidates in the upcoming election.
In a news release out Monday, Post-Newsweek said its six stations would offer “free airtime and free web time opportunities to candidates in the 30 days preceding the general elections. The Free Airtime will give candidates a unique ability to directly address and describe why voters should cast their vote for them.”
In addition, P-N said that each of its stations will devote at least 10 minutes each weekday to locally produced political news coverage during the political season. “The coverage will continue throughout the entire broadcast day from the all-important early morning news to the early evening and late newscasts,” according to the news release.
WKMG and the other Post-Newsweek stations will also look for opportunities allowing candidates to participate in on-air debates and town hall meetings during key time-periods. In addition to WKMG, the other P-N stations are WPLG-ABC 10 in Miami, WJXT-Channel 4 in Jacksonville, WDIV-NBC 4 in Detroit, KPRC-NBC 2 in Houston and KSAT-NBC 12 in San Antonio.
Read the full news release here.
Jim Van Fleet and anchor John Brown chat during the meteorologist's last newscast for Fox 35 Monday.
Comings and goings in Orlando TV news …
After nearly a decade with WOFL, meteorologist Jim Van Fleet presented his last forecast on Monday morning. The popular Fox 35 weatherman is heading to WTSP-CBS 10 in Tampa to become the station’s chief meteorologist. On Monday’s Good Day show, Van Fleet said, “It is bittersweet. Fox has been my family. For the record, I think this is the worst time for me to leave Fox 35 because I feel this is the strongest Fox 35 has been. So, I realize what I am doing but it is an opportunity that is too big to say no to.” …
WESH 2 sports anchor Guy Rawlings is heading to Atlanta to become a news anchor at WGCL-CBS 46. “I’m really excited and a little bit anxious,” Rawlings told the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Monday. “I wanted to try something different, look for a new challenge. A lot of my friends who are sports anchors are unemployed. Local sports seems to be shrinking. This opportunity is a hybrid of news and sports. I had to jump on it!” Rawlings’ last day at WESH will be Dec. 23. Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker reports that WESH will start “a national search” for Rawlings’ replacement. Veteran Pat Clarke will help fill the sports gaps at WESH for awhile. …
Another familiar face in the mornings at Fox 35 is leaving town, too. Mike Dunston is heading to Cleveland to anchor “Good Morning Cleveland” for WEWS-ABC 5. Dunston has been with WOFL since 2007. He’ll join his new station in December.
WFTV's weather team in 1963 -- years before Tom Terry and his doppler would arrive.
As regular readers probably know, we’ve been busy archiving newspaper advertisements for TV stations in Orlando (and other Florida markets too.)
We recently came across one that is a gem — a 1963 advertisement for Channel 9′s “Mid Florida News.” This was from the era long before Eyewitness News became “Central Florida’s News Leader.” At this point, the 5-year-old station was struggling for an audience and trying all sorts of gimmicks to try to grab viewers from WESH-2 and WDBO-6.
That included “Andy Wilson and Miss Fairweather” hosting “Amazing Action Weather” on WFTV. Since this was the era way before computer graphics, I hesitate to ask what part Miss Fairweather played in providing the Action for “Amazing Action Weather.” Does anyone know who Miss Fairweather is (or was)?
But, another piece of Orlando TV news lore: Yes, we had our own weather girl on WFTV. See the full WFTV ad here.
A lot of Orlando TV news folks move on to bigger and better gigs after O-Town. Some end up making some news themselves.
That appears to be the case with former WFTV-Channel 9 reporter Leland Vittert. NewsBlues.com reports that Vittert — who was hired last year to cover the Middle East for Fox News Channel – may be in a bit of trouble.
According to NewsBlues, “A crew from CNN reportedly saw him in the middle of a high-stakes card game in Tel Aviv, using Fox’s expense money as a gambling bankroll, and squealled on him.”
NewsBlues also says that sources told the site that Vittert has been suspended and is now back in the U.S. Vittert reportedly said he was using the money as pretend currency and no actual money was exchanged. Stay tuned.