Category Archives: Anchors

Anchor Cale Ramaker leaves Fox 35, heads West for new job

Cale Ramaker (courtesy myfoxorlando.com)

After seven years, anchor Cale Ramaker has quietly left WOFL-Fox 35. His final appearance on the station was last Thursday.

Wednesday morning, NewsBlues.com first reported Ramaker’s departure. After several websites also reported the news, Ramaker himself confirmed it on his Twitter account. “I kept quiet about it but, yes, I’ve left Fox 35 in Orlando. Specifics aside, I will be moving west and starting my new job July 16,” he tweeted.

Laurie Jacoby, Ramaker’s agent, told Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker that Ramaker “has accepted another position, which we are not at liberty to discuss yet because his new station has not made an announcement. It’s a very exciting opportunity, and he is looking forward to a new challenge.”

NewsBlues, quoting “friends,” says Ramaker is heading to San Diego.

Ramaker joined Fox 35 in 2005 as the main male anchor on its 10 p.m. newscast. The station’s news footprint expanded during Ramaker’s tenure, and he also anchored at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

WOFL brought in former WKMG-Local 6 anchor Bob Frier in December 2009 and used him on the station’s hourlong 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts – somewhat diminishing Ramaker’s role at Fox 35.

Still, Ramaker had his admirers – even at rival stations. “Fox35 has lost a darned good anchor. Good luck, Cale Ramaker,” tweeted WFTV-Channel 9 News Director Bob Jordan.

Barbara West leaving WFTV’s Eyewitness News

Veteran anchor Barbara West, who has been with WFTV’s Eyewitness News for 24 years, is leaving the station.

NewsBlues.com reported today that West will leave the station sometime before Jan. 1. “She’s had a great run. We’ll miss her,”  News Director Bob Jordan told NewsBlues.

Despite a long career in Orlando in which she was Channel 9’s health reporter and anchor for various time slots over the years, she is best remembered — at least from a national perspective — for her satellite interview with Sen. Joe Biden during the 2008 presidential campaign. She asked Biden “How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?”

Biden’s reponse: “Are you joking? Is this a joke? Is that a real question?”

Locally, West is well-known on the charity event circuit.

West, who has been the station’s longtime noon and 5:30 p.m. anchor, started to she her role diminish in the past several months. She was taken off the 5:30 news to make way for rising star Vanessa Welch.

NewsBlues said “West will likely use accumulated vacation days, and is expected to sign off soon.”

Ex-WESH anchor Chioji: ‘Life’s never been so good’

Former WESH 2 anchor Wendy Chioji
Former WESH anchor Wendy Chioji in Utah. Courtesy of EuporiaFitness.com

As part of its continuing coverage for Breast Cancer Awareness month, the Orlando Sentinel decided to check up on former WESH 2 News anchor — and breast cancer survivor — Wendy Chioji. It’s a story with a happy ending.

After Chioji announced her breast cancer diagnosis on air 10  years ago and successfully staged a very public battle against the disease, she decided there was more to life than TV news. The very athletic anchor left Orlando behind to pursue a career in fitness and health.

“Cancer makes you reprioritize things…I decided I wasn’t going to stay in a job that wasn’t fulfilling any more.,” Chioji told the Sentinel. “It was time to do things that you thought about, that you dream about. It was time for me to go.”

So, how’s her new life in Utah? The Sentinel reports that she’s working part-time and freelance jobs that include being a a personal trainer, leading cycling tours here and abroad,  and also working as a reporter at the nearby Sundance Film Festival.

“Life’s never been so good,” Chioji said.

Read the full story here.

Media picking up story of Mark McEwen’s return to CBS

Mark McEwen on CBS' Early Show
Mark McEwen on CBS' Early Show in 2006 (courtesy CBSNews.com)

As we mentioned earlier this week, former WKMG-Local 6 anchor Mark McEwen returns to television this Saturday when he fills-in as the weatherman on CBS’ Saturday Early Show.

Now, media outlets around the country are picking up the feel-good story — noting McEwen’s miraculous recovery from his massive stroke nearly five years ago. …

  • “Mark McEwen is a survivor, who has beat all odds and is returning to his true passion — reporting,” CBS News reports.
  • “Mark McEwen will return to ‘The Early Show’ on Saturday. But it’s more than a homecoming — it will be McEwen’s first nationally televised weather forecast since suffering a devastating and debilitating stroke in 2005,” the New York Post reports.
  • “Mark McEwen returning to visit ‘The Early Show,’ ” The Associated Press reports.
  • “Weatherman Mark McEwen will return to CBS News and The Early Show Saturday for the first time since recovering from a near-fatal stroke,” Broadcasting & Cable reports.
  • “Mark McEwen, who worked for CBS from 1987 to 2002, will appear in his first nationally televised weather forecast — and he’ll sit down for an interview — since recovering from a near-fatal stroke in 2005,”  USA Today reports.

By the way, this won’t be his first appearance on the CBS morning program since his stroke. He returned in 2006 to discuss it and his recovery.

Mike Garofalo leaves Local 6; Erik von Ancken on desk

Local 6 NewsIn the summer of surprising changes at WKMG Local 6 continued Tuesday with word that main 6 and 11 p.m. anchor Mike Garofalo has left the station.

This switch “started with Mike’s decision,” WKMG GM Skip Valet told Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. Garofalo was married in October to a reporter at Post-Newsweek sister station WPLG-10 in Miami. Apparently the two decided they wanted to live in Miami.

Garofalo arrived at WKMG in December 2008 from KOAT in Albuquerque, where he worked with his now-wife. In Orlando, he’ll likely will be best remembered as the man who replaced longtime popular anchor Bob Frier on Channel 6’s anchor desk.

Garofalo’s replacement — at least for now — will be Erik von Ancken. He has the 6 and 11 p.m. co-anchor slot next to Lauren Rowe on an interim basis and is a candidate to take the job permanently. “I have a lot of confidence in Erik and want to give him a chance to do the job,” Valet told Boedeker.

In an odd arrangement, von Ancken was anchoring on Saturday evenings and Garofalo was anchoring Sunday evenings. Now that both are off the weekend shift, who’s going to anchor? WKMG said that task falls to Bridgett Williams, who arrives at Local 6 from WAGT, the NBC affiliate in Augusta, Ga.

Garofalo  joins the other high-profile departures from the station in the past several months, including longtime anchor Jacqueline London, morning weather guy Eric Wilson and reporter Donald Forbes.

“I don’t think we have any more turnover than the other stations,” Valet said. “Ours are coming a little quickly. I’m back to fix our product.”

Mark McEwen returning to network TV

Mark McEwenGood news for former WKMG-Local 6 anchor Mark McEwen. He’s returning to network TV.

However, it’s just for a day — next Saturday when he presents the weather on CBS’ Saturday Early Show.

“It’s very heartening to be back on TV,” McEwen told Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. “I want to show people you can overcome a stroke or anything. I got in touch with them [CBS] about by doing entertainment pieces. They came back and said, ‘How about the weather?’ I said OK. It’s a one-day fill-in.”

As you likely know, McEwen suffered a massive stroke in 2005, just a couple of months after he was named the new morning anchor for Local 6.

Since then has come lots of therapy, public appearances to raise awareness about strokes and a book he wrote about his experience, “After the Stroke: My Journey Back to Life.” He even has a website to promote the publication.

McEwen told Boedeker that while he’s “doing fine,” “I’m still kind of dealing with the aftermath of a massive stroke.”

Read more with McEwen here.