Our summertime series, Blast from the Past, continues with this ad for the Eyewitness News team that first boosted Channel 9 to news dominance in Central Florida. Here you see the promotion for the 5:30 p.m. newscast with anchors Bob Opsahl and Carole Nelson, and then the 6 o’clock team that included (from left) sports director Mike Storms, Nelson, news director/anchor Bob Jordan and weatherman Danny Treanor.
Did you catch Bob Opsahl anchoring the 11 p.m. edition of Eyewitness News on WFTV-Channel 9 last week? If so, that may be the last time you see Bob at 11 in awhile. Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker broke the news about Opsahl being moved off the 11 o’clock shift, making way for anchor heir-apparent Josh Benson. But, did you know that this isn’t the first time Opsahl was moved off the 11 p.m. news? It wasn’t his choice then, but in the 1986, WFTV bumped him off the 11 p.m. (and 6 p.m.) shows for anchor Bud Hedinger. Once Bud left the station, Opsahl reclaimed the main anchor chair in 1989 and hasn’t given it up since … until now, on his terms. …
Good thing for upcoming WUCF TV, the future home of PBS in Orlando. After losing WMFE-24 as a home for PBS programming, the region’s other choice fro PBS, WDSC-15 in Daytona Beach, is dropping the public broadcasting network on July 1. The reason? Financial woes. Read it all here. …
Former WOFL-Fox 35 meteorologist Sabrina Fein has landed out West. She’s the newest addition to the weather team at San Diego’s XETV-CW 6. She’s forecasting on the station’s 10 and 11 p.m. shows.
WFTV Eyewitness News anchorman Bob Ospahl opens up about his long career in Orlando in an interview with Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker.
For example, has Opsahl ever considered leaving Channel 9 and Orlando for a job in a larger market?
Said Opsahl, “Like most folks in TV news, I had early visions of advancing to the so-called ‘Big Time,’ moving to larger markets, and possibly even the network someday. And I did have some offers over the years. But a few things kept me from making those moves. First, I love Orlando. It’s been home base for me since 1968. And most of my family members live here, too. Second, I wasn’t convinced that any success here would necessarily translate to another market. And third, I grew up in an Air Force family, where moving was a way of life. Many times when my Dad got transferred I would have to leave all my friends behind and start over again in another state. So, the opportunity to finally put down roots, and stay in one place was very appealing to me.
“And here’s a fun fact: When I started at Channel 9, in 1978, the Orlando market was the 43rd largest in the country. Now, it’s 19th. So, I did move to a much bigger market, and I didn’t have to leave town.”
There’s been a lot of speculation about vetran anchor Bob Opsahl’s future at WFTV. News director Bob Jordan has hinted at pending retirement for his star newsman, and that talk ramped up after new weekend anchor Josh Benson was hired.
Well, what about Bob? He set the record straight on Monday with Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. Asked about talk that he may retire next year, Opsahl said, “For now, I can take that only one step further: I won’t be retiring next year either.”
So, that would keep Central Florida’s longest tenured anchor on Eyewitness News through 2011. Opsahl started at Channel 9 back in 1978. Wow — that’s a looong time.
Come July, you’ll see a new face weekends on the WFTV Eyewitness News anchor desk. But could he ultimately be Bob Opshal’s replacement?
The newcomer is Josh Benson, who is currently morning anchor at KVOA-NBC 4 in Tucson, Ariz. According to AZBiz.com, Benson will be leaving Arizona at the end of May and begin his new weekend gig at Channel 9 on July 6.
But it’s what else AZBiz had to say about Benson that’s very interesting: “WFTV is owned by Cox Enterprises — parent of the company that owns Tucson’s cable system — and has been Orlando’s news ratings leader for most of the last 20 years. The station’s main weekday anchorman, Bob Opsahl, has been in that position since 1984 and the word is he is planning to retired in about a year, which could propel Benson into the top spot in the market if things work out.”
Back in December, it was reported that WFTV was beginning to think about who would replace Opsahl — and the weekend anchor position was mentioned.
According to Benson’s bio, he joined KVOA in June 2005. Previously, he was the 6 and 10 p.m. anchor at KAAL in Austin, Minn. He interned at KSTP and WCCO in Minneapolis.
Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather were iconic anchors for their networks. But Bob Opsahl has them beat.
Opsahl has been anchoring the news at WFTV-Channel 9 for more than 30 years — even before Rather, Brokaw or Jennings took over the lead roles on their network newscasts. Granted, Opsahl wasn’t the main anchor for Eyewitness News when he started at the station in 1978, but he’s still going long after those other guys left their respective network desks.
But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker reports that WFTV is starting to look for Opsahl’s replacement.
“Bob Opsahl is going to retire sometime. It would behoove us to be ready,” said WFTV News Director Bob Jordan — the man who hired Opsahl years ago. “I know one day I’m going to have to replace Bob Opsahl. I’ve be happy if he stayed forever, but he has a contract that runs out. He’s had a fantastic career. He’s an extremely valuable player.”
For now, the station is holding auditions for a male weekend anchor — but folks can see the writing on the wall. Fortunately for Opsahl’s many viewers, he’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon.
“Not next year,” Jordan said. “As long as he’s going to be here for 2010, aren’t goodbyes premature?”