Tag Archives: Barbara West

Do WESH, Payne have WFTV to thank for Obama interview?

Catching up with the latest Orlando TV news …

WESH 2’s Jim Payne was among several local anchors invited to the White House last week to interview President Obama — who was pushing his jobs plan. But why WESH instead of market-leader WFTV-Channel 9? I’m guessing the Obama team still hasn’t forgotten Barbara West’s satellite interview with Joe Biden during the 2008 campaign. …

Speaking of WESH, Steve Rifkin was named creative services director for Hearst Television’s Orlando properties, which include WESH, WKCF, MeTV, ThisTV, Estrella TV, WESH.com and CW18tv.com. Read more here. …

WFTV.com has undergone a makeover, and it is featuring more national and world news on its home page. The site has been asking its registered users to re-register. WFTV.com and WESH.com usually are pretty close in the ComScore rankings of local websites — leading the Orlando TV stations but still pretty far behind local leader OrlandoSentinel.com in market share. …

Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World. And unless I missed it, I didn’t see any Orlando stations showing their footage from opening day in 1971. I hope they kept that film — since it was a pretty historic day for all of us. But I suspect like many old news films, it’s probably disappeared. Too bad.

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.”

Summer break over: Catching up on Orlando TV

After a nice summer break away from TV news, it’s time to catch up. And, wow, there has been a lot going on ….

WFTV-Channel 9: Some of the most newsworthy changes have come from an unexpected place: the usually rock-steady Eyewitness News juggernaut. The big shocker: longtime anchor Barbara West is being taken off the 5:30 p.m. news, making way for rising star Vanessa Welch. GM  Shawn Bartelt told Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker the station is making the 5:30 change to provide some flow its new  6:30 p.m. news on WRDQ-TV 27. “I have the utmost respect for Barbara West,” Bartelt said. “This is no reflection on Barbara. I have to get more faces into those 90 minutes” from 5 to 6:30 p.m. West has been at WFTV since 1986 and will continue to anchor at noon and report on the health beat. … Another longtime WFTV anchor is also getting her air time scaled back, too. Daybreak anchor Vanessa Echols will be replaced by newcomer Bianca Castro from 7-9 a.m. on the Eyewitness News This Morning show on WRDQ. “We felt she needed a break,” Bartelt said of Echols. … And even more changes at WFTV: Main sports anchor Phil Burton is being shuffled out the door to make way for Christian Bruey, 26, who does play by play for the Daytona Cubs. Bruey starts in September. Burton will hang around through football season. … Morning meteorologist Matt Makens is departing WFTV to accept a weather position at Denver’s KMGH-ABC 7. … Speaking of Channel 9’s new  6:30 p.m. news, with Welch and newcomer Josh Benson, it will debut on Labor Day. … Finally (whew!), WFTV announced it will replace Oprah at 4 p.m. with Dr. Oz, starting in 2011. So much for theories that WFTV was going to launch a 4 p.m. newscast.

WOFL-Fox 35: After eight years, General Manager Stan Knott announced plans to leave the Fox O&O. While he’s been on board, the station has greatly expanded its news footprint in the mornings, evenings and weekends. No word on a replacement yet. More here.  … Dr. Phil will be joining the Fox 35 family in 2011.

WKMG-Local 6: Well, when we last checked, WKMG was in the process of a major house cleaning. Gone were anchor Jacqueline London, reporter Donald Forbes and morning weather guy Eric Wilson. The changes kept on coming. Reporter Jessica D’Onofrio has left, stepping up to ABC O&O WLS-7 in her hometown of Chicago. The Chicago Sun-Times says she starts Aug. 30 will be covering breaking news in the mornings. So, what about all those openings at WKMG? Julie Broughton, formerly of Central Florida News 13, has been brought in temporarily to help anchor on the weekends. More new faces at the stationShaun Chaiyabhat, from Memphis, is a GA; Quinn Schuler, from Tuscon, Ariz.,  is a GA; and Cortney Hall, from Champaign, Ill. is a morning reporter. … We mentioned earlier, WKMG is going to let Dr. Phil — which replaced its 5 p.m. news — go to WOFL in 2011. Will WKMG get back into the early evening news game? GM SkipValet isn’t saying.

WESH 2 News: Sunrise anchor Jason Guy became a daddy earlier this month. He and his wife welcome daughter Quinn Katherine Guy. … And congrats to Todd Grasley, who had been heading up WESH’s High School Playbook website. He’s off to Panama City for a new weekend sports anchor gig.

Central Florida News 13: Well, I was surprised. Hal Boedeker reported on News 13’s ratings and how they fare against the other stations in town. I didn’t think 13 was much of a player, but the local cable news station regularly beats some of its broadcast competitors in several news time slots. Who knew “Weather on the 1’s” could be so popular? … Anchor Jackie Brockington, missing for three months, returned to the air. Where was she? On medical leave. “Nothing serious — reconstructive foot surgery,” Brockington told Boedeker.

WFTV’s West back in news with Biden visit

bidenWith Vice President Joe Biden due to visit Orlando on Wednesday, Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker revived the discussion about WFTV anchor Barbara West’s controversial interview with Biden during the 2008 campaign. Boedeker asked WFTV News Director Bob Jordan if West would cover Biden’s visit for Eyewitness News. 

“Just for old time’s sake? That’s a great idea,” Jordan told Boedeker with a laugh. Turning serious, Jordan said, “I saw a brief e-mail that he’s coming. I haven’t discussed how we’ll cover him. We certainly will cover him.”

One of the issues that West sparred with Biden in her interview was health care. On Monday night at a town hall meeting by Rep. Alan Grayson to discuss President Obama’s hot-button health care plan, West’s husband was on hand. According to Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell, who was live blogging from the event: “Wade West, husband of WFTV anchor Barbara West, just stormed out, yelling ‘Shame on all of us!’ at the entire room.  West was reacting to Grayson saying he wasn’t going to be able to take questions from everyone – and complaining about the number of Democrats front-ended loaded into the forum.”

After the jump, why one local TV web site has closed, plus more notes

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Too many hugs for Casey Anthony? That’s what local stations say

Orlando’s local TV stations are so obsessed over Casey Anthony — especially now that it’s sweeps — maybe they just all need a hug? Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker takes the local stations to task for overplaying a story about Anthony attorney Jose Baez hugging Casey twice while in jail.

Boedeker wrote: “No way, Jose,” WFTV-Channel 9 anchor Bob Opsahl said in opening the 5 p.m. Friday news. “Now hugs have him in trouble.” Anchor Martie Salt added: “Lawyers are never supposed to touch their clients, especially like this.” It was all rather breathless.

Meanwhile, WKMG’s Tony Pipitone has been trying to trace Anthony’s movements via her cell phone records and checking into movies she rented before Casey disappeared.

Continue reading Too many hugs for Casey Anthony? That’s what local stations say

Spotlight still on Barbara West after Joe Biden interview

 The spotlight continues to shine on WFTV anchor Barbara West in the wake of her much-discussed interview with Joe Biden.

On Monday, West was on CNN and Bill O’Riley’s show on Fox News Channel to explain her oft-dowloaded interview with the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate. She also plans to be on more national shows Tuesday. (Here’s video of Fox News Channel coverage of the interview).

In a new follow-up story about the incident, West tells the Orlando Sentinel, “The thing that stuns me is that this has become about me. It’s not a good thing. I am not trying to seek the limelight in any way,” she said. “I did not do the interview to make headlines, but to get answers that people in the street want to know. When I’m doing fund-raisers, I see vast numbers …

Continue reading Spotlight still on Barbara West after Joe Biden interview