Catching up on Orlando TV news after being busy Christmas shopping …
Former WESH anchor Wendy Chioji has reunited with former Channel 2 colleagues Marc Middleton and Bill Shafer on their Growing Bolder television venture. She’s joining the show for its second season on public television. She was at the show’s Maitland headquarters recently to tape segments for season 2. Click here to see a video of the shoot. And the Orlando Sentinel has more on Chioji’s new role with Growing Bolder. …
WESH News Director Bob Longo responded to Comedy Central’s poking of the station for its incorrect report about “red and green” being banned at Heathrow Elementary for the holidays. Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker says Longo sent him the following email: “We pride ourselves on providing our viewers with accurate information. It’s one of our core tenets. And while we always strive to be accurate, in this case we made a mistake We regret it. We spoke to the school superintendent after the story aired and asked what we could do to make it right. We corrected our mistake immediately on TV and posted the school’s entire statement on line, which was two weeks ago. They are satisfied.” …
WKMG reacts to that news, reported here via NewsBlues.com, that it was dropping weekend sports anchor Todd Romero and bringing in Jamie Seh from Albany, N.Y., as his replacement. “It’s a personnel matter. He has left the station following the conclusion of his contract,” WKMG General Manager Skip Valet told Boedeker. Said Romero, “My contract was ending Dec. 31. I just think they didn’t want me to say goodbye on the air.” …
Finally, another WKMG alumnus, Donald Forbes, has joined Bright House Networks as its senior director of corporate communications. Congrats.
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.
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.
How popular? News of Chioji’s departure was among the top stories on the OrlandoSentinel.com Web site, and a photo gallery of her career at WESH had more than 65,000 page views on the Sentinel Web site on Thursday. That’s really not surprising for someone who has been in viewers’ homes for 20 years, sharing personal information such as her battle with breast cancer.
“Wendy is a class act,” said WESH 2 News Director Barbara Maushard. “She will be greatly missed in the WESH 2 newsroom and in homes all around Central Florida.”
No decisions have been made regarding Chioji’s replacement or other anchor assignment changes at the station.
Longtime O-Town anchor Marla Weech is being laid off from WKMG as the slowing economy starts to takes its toll at Local 6.
“I’m being laid off,” she told Orlando Sentinel TV Guy Hal Boedeker on Friday. “It’s tough economic times. My position is being eliminated. My heart goes out to anyone who’s losing a job.”
Weech has been an anchor on Orlando TV since the early 1980s, first at Channel 6, then for more than 20 years at WFTV-Channel 9. She left WFTV in Sept. 2005 after being bumped to the 10 p.m. newscast on sister station WRDQ-Channel 27. She returned to Channel 6 in 2006.
Weech is the latest high-profile anchor to leave the air. Wendy Chioji departed WESH-Channel 2 in May after more than 20 years.
Chioji decided to leave the business, which — like all media — is facing a tough economic climate. In a memo to the Channel 6 staff explaining Weech’s anchor position being eliminated, GM Henry Maldonado warned, “The position being eliminated will not be the only measure we will have to take. But for now, everyone affected by these changes has already been informed.”
Weech’s last newscast will be tonight. Read the full Orlando Sentinel story here.
Some quick hits to start the week …
As WESH prepares to go HD, one of its anchors has already been digitized. Wendy Chioji is the surprise tour guide for the Florida High Tech Corridor Web site. As you poke around the site, you can always call Wendy back to help you when you have a question. Maybe they should do the news that way? …
From an O-Town tipster — but not yet confirmed: Former WESH morning anchor Tom Schaad has landed a main anchor gig at WAVY-NBC 10 in Norfolk, Va. …