I’ve been interested in all media since ever since I can remember. I think my fascination with television started in the third grade when I was living in Miami. A classmate invited me to join him in the audience for a taping of the very popular “Skipper Chuck” show on WTVJ-Channel 4. I then made the rounds of all the local Miami kids shows, including South Florida’s version of Bozo the Clown.
After briefly leaving the Sunshine State to go to high school in Boise, Idaho, I returned to attend the University of Central Florida with the intention of going into broadcast journalism. But a funny thing happened — I found out I loved newspaper reporting more than TV reporting. I went on to become a print journalist but remained interested in television news — keeping tapes of local and national broadcasts I thought were cool or noteworthy. Those tapes help form the library of Orlando TV history that became RogerSimmons.com — a website/blog I launched in March 2000. (Why RogerSimmons.com? Well, I wanted a name that I could remember!)
Over the years, the site has grown and changed in many ways. A big thank you to all the individuals who have contributed photos or stories to help document Orlando’s TV news history.
Currently, I live in Orlando with my wife and our son. I previously was the Digital Editor for the Orlando Sentinel, overseeing OrlandoSentinel.com – the region’s most popular local news website. Now, I’m Director of Content for Tribune Co.’s east coast newspaper websites. But please note — my site/blog is NOT in any way related to the Orlando Sentinel, OrlandoSentinel.com or any other Tribune Co. website. The views expressed here are mine only and not connected in any way with my employer.
(P.S.: In addition to television memorabilia, I also have a rather large collection of historic newspapers — some of which are more than 200 years old. But I don’t have a website for them — yet.)
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Catching up on stories missed while taking a summer break …
In time for the Olympics, WESH 2 debuted some flashy new graphics and music for WESH 2 News. These graphics replace the standard Hearst TV graphics that WESH has been using for the past six years — and some suspect they will become the new standard for Hearst stations. Got to say, I like them. In addition to the new graphics, WESH is also welcoming the London Olympics with its nightly Olympic Zone show, hosted by Martha Sugalski and Jim Payne. See more of the new WESH graphics here. …
Other changes at WESH: weekend anchor Meredith McDonough is moving to weekday mornings starting Aug. 6. She’ll replace Syan Rhodes, who will move to WESH’s 10 p.m. newscast on sister station WKCF-CW 18 — helping spell Sugalski and Payne. Read more about the shuffle here. …
Very quietly, Fox 35 recently launched weekend morning newscasts. The weekend editions of “Good Day” run from 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Looks like Tom Johnson is the anchor and Rob Eicher is handling the weather.
Orlando TV icon Bob Jordan is leaving his post as WFTV news director on Aug. 17. As reported earlier, he’s taking the news director spot at Cox sister station KIRO-7 in Seattle….
Apparently, Bob Jordan’s move to Seattle isn’t a done deal.
Today, NewsBlues.com offered this update on the WFTV news director’s career plans:
“Jordan, who turns 66 today, is considering the offer. Last week, he visited KIRO-7-CBS and even conducted a morning editorial meeting. Seattle is familiar territory. His daughter and grandkids live there, and he visits regularly. He was news director at Belo’s KING-5-NBC nearly 20 years ago. This week, Jordan and his wife are vacationing in Minnesota and have stayed below the radar while they try to figure out what to do next.”
Mike James, the NewsBlues.com founder and editor, was once WFTV’s sports director under Jordan, and likely has the inside scoop about his former boss.
Is longtime news director Bob Jordan leaving WFTV? That’s that insider website FTVLive.com is reporting.
“FTVLive FIRST told you days ago that WFTV (Orlando) News Director Bob Jordan was spotted interviewing at KIRO in Seattle. Now, Seattle insiders tell FTVLive that it is a “done deal” and that Jordan will be leaving O-Town and head to Seattle.”
Jordan has been at Channel 9 for the past 10 years — his third stint as news director at WFTV. He’s credited with providing stability to the station which had gone through five news directors in six years before his most recent arrival.
Why would Jordan leave now? Good question. He’s close to retirement age, and based on his previous Tweets, I believe he has family in the Seattle area. KIRO-CBS 7, like WFTV, is a Cox-owned station — so he gets to stay with this company. Seattle is familiar territory for Jordan, as he served as news director at KING-NBC 5 before heading to KCBS-2 in LA in the ’90s.
Back in Orlando, what’s left for Jordan? He’s built WFTV into a juggernaut (three times), but one that now is about to go through a series of transitions. Greg Warmoth is being eased into Bob Opsahl’s role as main anchor, there’s a new morning anchor team that’s been installed, too. And with Oprah gone, WESH-2 has been edging closer to Channel 9’s Eyewitness News in the early evening.
When Cale Ramaker left the WOFL-Fox 35 anchor desk in late May, he tweeted, “Specifics aside, I will be moving west and starting my new job July 16.” Now we have the specifics.
TVSpy.com reports that Ramaker is joining Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS-8 as its new morning anchor:
Beginning July 30th, the KLAS morning newscast will be anchored by Cale Ramaker and Shauna Khorrami.
Ramaker comes to KLAS after seven years at WOFL in Orlando, where he anchored the station’s 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. Khorrami joins the station after anchoring the morning news at KSTU in Salt Lake City.
“We are thrilled to welcome two new anchors to our morning newscasts,” KLAS news director Ron Comings said. “Las Vegans will have a fresh new alternative to help get their mornings off to a great start.”
Meanwhile back at Fox 35, the station has posted Ramaker’s former anchor job on its website: ANCHOR/REPORTER– (Regular Full Time / Orlando): Anchor newscasts as assigned. Enterprise and report news stories. Write creatively, clearly, accurately and quickly. Provide live coverage of breaking events. Take initiative and be a leader in the newsroom. A minimum of three years experience working as an anchor in a medium or large market preferred. Good news judgment and knowledge of fair and accurate journalism practices. Ability to tell stories, ask good probing questions in Q&A with reporters and ad-lib effectively. Strong writing skills and thorough knowledge of current events. Excellent people and communication skills; must be a team player. Working knowledge of newsroom compute
It was breaking bear news you can use on Orlando’s big four TV news stations Friday night. WESH, WFTV, WKMG and WOFL all spent nearly the first 10 minutes of their 6 p.m. newscasts waiting for a young black bear to fall out of a tree. Holy, Goldilocks!
The bear was spotted in downtown Orlando near Orange Blossom Trail and State Road 408 around 12:30 p.m., according to the Orlando Sentinel. At 6 p.m., wildlife officials shot the bear with a tranquilizer gun. Some eight or nine minutes later, it came plunging out of its tree and into a net held by local law enforcement officials.
The bear reportedly appeared unhurt and will be relocated to the Ocala National Forest. (Local 6’s 7 p.m. news had its chopper show live coverage of pickup truck transporting the bear back to the forest.) Now, before we go back to regular programming, here’s your complete bear team coverage …
For nearly three years, WKMG-Local 6 has been the only major news outlet in Orlando not broadcasting its local news in high definition. That apparently changed this week.
Nearly six years after WFTV-Channel 9 became the first station in Florida to broadcast its news in high definition, Local 6 finally made the switch to HD in a low-key affair today.
WKMG has been broadcasting its news in the widescreen 16:9 format since 2008, but it didn’t immediately follow its rivals in upgrading to HD for its newscasts. WFTV launched HD in 2006, WESH 2 followed in 2007 and WOFL-Fox 35 in 2009. Several folks emailed me about the switch. I didn’t see where WKMG noted the change, but I did notice the graphics look better as well as the studio shots.
SAD NEWS FROM WESH:Linda Fern, 60, who had been with WESH 2 News for more than 27 years, was killed early Monday in a two-vehicle crash on I-4 in Volusia County.
“For many years, she was our go-to satellite truck operator and is best known by our reporters and photographers as the glue that made all those many satellite shots from all those storms and hurricanes work. She will be missed.”
The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash.