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.
The Orlando Sentinel’s fun summer online contest, the Orlando Celebrity Smackdown, has its championship match up.
The winner among all the local television personalities is WKMG chief meteorologist Tom Sorrells. He reached the finals by knocking out fellow Channel 6 weatherman Eric Wilson in opening round, then dispatching Fox 35 morning meteorologist Jim Van Fleet in the second round, upsetting WFTV chief met Tom Terry in the third round, then rallying late to defeat WESH-2 anchors Jim Payne and Martha Sugalski in the semifinals.
Facing Sorrells from the radio side of the contest bracket are Doc and Grace, morning DJs on K92FM. They made it to the finals by upsetting the Monsters of the Morning from Real Radio 104.1.
The WESH duo of Jim Payne and Martha Sugalski dispatched WKMG’s main anchors to move into the third round of OrlandoSentinel.com’s Celebrity Smackdown game. Also advancing to face the Channel 2 Cinderellas — the anchors of WFTV’s top-rated Daybreak show, Greg Warmoth and Vanessa Echols. Earlier, Payne and Sugalski upset WFTV evening anchors Bob Opsahl and Martie Salt.
More on the other big O-Town TV matchup after the jump …
We’re in the dog days of summer. The Casey Anthony case has cooled down, the tropics are relatively quiet, and other than the python-killing mania sweeping the state, there’s not much going on.
That’s why the folks in the Orlando Sentinel’s marketing department decided to shake up the summer a bit. They’ve produced an online contest to pick the most popular broadcasters in Orlando TV and radio. Called the Orlando Celebrity Smackdown, the summer sizzler is already pulling in thousands of online votes from Central Floridians. The contest is structured like a tournament, with matchups of broadcasters in each round. Winners from each week’s voting advance to the next round to face a new "challenger."
So far, the results on the TV side pretty much mirror what you would find in the Nielsen book — with one major exception. The No. 1- and No. 2-rated evening anchor teams are facing each other in the opening round: WFTV’s Bob Opsahl and Martie Salt against WESH’s Jim Payne and Martha Sugalski. Checking on the vote totals Thursday night, the WESH pair has more votes than the WFTV duo. I guess this would be akin to a No. 1 seed being knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, if the voting pattern holds.
Conan O’Brien got a first-hand look at some Central Florida media stars when he visited WESH on Saturday.
O’Brien, in the area before attending Sunday’s Super Bowl in Tampa, dropped by the WESH 2 studios to talk about his Bud Light Super Bowl commerical as well as his upcoming move from Late Night to the Tonight Show on NBC. WESH anchor Jim Payne and Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker interviewed O’Brien about both topics.
But it was the other local media stars who grabbed the late-night funnyman’s attention. WESH had Gatorland deliver a group of gators and crocodiles to greet O’Brien (must be sort of like attending an NBC-Universal corporate meeting). The Gatorland residents, who have been featured on countless TV shows over the years, got up close and personal with the NBC star.
WESH veteran anchor Wendy Chioji — who celebrates her 20th anniversary with the station today — will leave Channel 2 at the end of the May sweeps. In a press release issued Thursday, WESH said Chioji’s decision to leave “was based on her personal interest in moving west and the opportunity to open a new business in Park City, Utah. She and two partners will launch a new Vision Quest cycling center in that city.”
“It’s a bittersweet time for me,” said Chioji. “I have loved living in Central Florida for 20 years. I’ve also learned that life cycles have an ending, and it’s time to end my life cycle at WESH. I am forever grateful to Hearst-Argyle and WESH for the amazing two decades-long run here. It has allowed me to work with the most talented people in the business and live in one of the greatest cities on earth. I am excited about my new adventure.”
It became apparent not too long ago that WESH was turning away from its iconic anchor when the station brought in Martha Sugalski to anchor the 11 p.m. news with Jim Payne. Despite WESH’s improved numbers at 11 p.m., Chioji remains popular.