The changes keep coming at Channel 9, and there’s a familiar face returning to town. WFTV announced this week that former anchor Jorge Estevez will be back on the Eyewitness News anchor desk starting June 4.
Estevez left WFTV in 2006 for CBS O&O WFOR-4 in Miami. He’s coming back to Orlando to report for WFTV but also anchor on sister station WRDQ-27 with Vanessa Welch at 6:30 p.m. and Martie Salt at 10 p.m. He’s replacing Josh Benson, who will be leaving WFTV-WRDQ after veteran Greg Warmoth was elevated as “heir apparent” for Bob Opsahl’s anchor chair.
Video of Estevez’s most recent audition at WFTV appeared to accidentally make its way onto the Internet and was indexed by Google earlier this week. Oops. But that’s OK.
Estevez is already going out of his way to ingratiate himself to his new co-anchors, sending them flowers — based on a picture posted on Twitter on Thursday.
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.
The deadline for the first round of voting is midnight on Sunday. Round 2 will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday. You can play and follow along here.
(Full disclosure: Yeah, it’s a silly, unscientific contest, but I do love the traffic this is generating for OrlandoSentinel.com.)
As any avid visitor to this site knows, I love news and old news video. I came across some new “old” video that I hope you’ll enjoy too. Here’s a WFTV Eyewitness News promo from nearly 25 years ago — 1984. It features then-Channel 9 anchor Bob Jordan (now the station’s news director — again), anchor Martie Salt (before she left Channel 9 to go to Tampa), iconic weatherman Danny Treanor and anchor Bob Opsahl. Just after the promo is another with Salt, then a middle-of-the-night news update from anchor Ted Russell.
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.
WFTV is promoting reporter Vanessa Welch to co-anchor of its 10 p.m. newscast on WRDQ.
“She’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with,” WFTV News Director Bob Jordan told Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker. “She’s our best enterprising reporter. When I think, over the years, of the people who have gone on to network jobs, she’s of that caliber. She’s got a big future.”
Welch joined WFTV in February 2007, coming to the station after stints at stations in Midland-Odessa, Texas, and in Raleigh, N.C.
Now, WFTV has big plans for Welch. Jordan told Boedeker that Welch just signed a 4-year deal with the station. She will co-anchor the 10 p.m. news with Darrell Greene and continue to report two or three days a week, too.
Welch replaces Cynthia Demos, who left the WRDQ newscast nearly a year ago to jump to Miami’s CBS O&O, WFOR-4. Martie Salt has been filling in with Greene on the show since Demos departed.