Here are some of the highlights from the past several weeks from local broadcasting.
It’s been a busy hiring season at Spectrum News Buffalo as the station announced three new hires and a promotion from the staff.
Legendary broadcaster Sandy Beach will be inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in October as part of the 2017 class. Beach currently hosts his morning program on WBEN-AM during the week from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and is a staple of Buffalo broadcasting having been in the market for 35 years.
Last year, the Buffalo Broadcasters Association launched the inaugural year of the Student Mentoring Program. Three students were selected to meet with a team of six mentors each and completed the program over the course of late 2016. A year later, the mentees are now all enjoying success in their early yet promising broadcasting careers.
In an announcement made on Monday by General Manager Jim Toellner, longtime Executive Producer Athan Kompos has been named News Director at WGRZ-TV. Kompos was most recently Acting News Director after Kate Glover’s departure in June. The Buffalo native and Canisius graduate has been with the station since 2004 and was promoted to the Executive Producer role in 2009.
Sports anchor/reporter Tom Martin made it official yesterday and announced that he is leaving Buffalo for Kansas City. He will take over as a weekend sports anchor/reporter for KCTV-TV after two years in Buffalo. Martin came to Buffalo two years ago as WIVB-TV was revamping their entire sports department following the departures of Lauren Brill and Steve Vesey. Before Buffalo, the Mizzou grad worked at KATC-TV and KOMU-TV. He will start at the new station sometime in September.
Martin was also a four-time participant and guest speaker for the Buffalo Broadcasters Association’s Peer 2 Peer Speakers Tour. The initiative strives to connect the rising stars of the industry with students that might be interested in pursuing a career in broadcasting at local colleges and universities.
Fun fact, this is also where former WIVB-TV News Director Scott Levy went to take a new opportunity as well.
In a video announcement this morning on his personal Facebook page, Scott Levin announced that he is returning to WGRZ-TV alongside Maryalice Demler at the anchor desk.
Levin, who left the station in May, took a position with West Herr as a Finance Manager. In the video, Levin mentioned that sitting out on the coverage of the tornadoes that affected areas in Hamburg, Holland, and Angelica, made him miss being at the desk.
The story on WGRZ’s website confirms that he will return to the airwaves in early September.
Since the start of 2017, three local websites have popped up from current/former broadcasters in the Buffalo area. Each have a unique perspective on what they cover and are all good reads!
Former WGRZ-TV anchor/reporter Mary Friona has started Totally Buffalo, a blog/webpage dedicated to all things Buffalo! The site features updates on local happenings, stories about the people of WNY, breaking news, and much more. Friona is also launching a part of the website called Totally Niagara Falls, which covers her hometown and the community that we all treasure and value. The link to her site can be found here (https://www.totallybuffalo.com/).
The Cheektowaga Chronicle is a locally owned, independent, online news publication run by former WKBW-TV and WGRZ-TV photojournalist Jim Herr. The site covers the news around Cheektowaga and dives into investigative reports that affect the community. Herr is a lifelong resident of Cheektowaga and also is a member of the Pine Hill Drum and Bugle Corps, where he’s also served as President of the organization for the past four years. The link to his site can be found here (http://cheektowagachronicle.com/).
Finally, the most recent debut of the trio is Buffalo Sports Page run by Kevin Sylvester and Paul Peck. The site features covers the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bulls, baseball, and golf. The duo are also hosting a radio show of the sports page on WECK-AM/FM on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Sundays during football season from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The list of contributors to the site include UB Athletics Broadcaster Bob Gaughan, Tony Mrozik, J.K. Karlsen, comedian Jeff Wozer, Amy Audibert, Jim Kubiak, Bradley Gelber, football writer Greg Gabriel, Scott Wilson, Buffalo NHL Correspondent Joe Yerdon, and Nick Mendola. You can visit their page by clicking on the link (https://www.buffalosportspage.com/).
If you’re a regular viewer of Wake Up! on WIVB-TV, you’ll soon be watching a new morning co-anchor alongside Jordan Williams. The station has hired Melanie Orlins (left), who most recently moved to Buffalo from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she served as the Morning Anchor for FOX 43. She has also worked in Grand Forks, North Dakota and is a Florida State Univeristy alum. She takes over for Teresa Weakley, who left to move closer to family and is now working at WOOD-TV, over a year ago. Interim anchor Brittni Smallwood will return to anchoring the 8 a.m. newscast and report for Wake Up!
A familiar face in local television has returned to the local airwaves. Lia Lando (right) started filling-in as a weekend anchor at WKBW-TV in early July. Some may remember that Lando was the interim anchor at WIVB-TV after Lisa Flynn retired from the station from 2009 to 2010. After that she spent five years at WHEC-TV in Rochester as the anchor of “Roc City Tonight” and the station’s 11 p.m. broadcast. She has previously worked at WROC-TV and WETM-TV.
According to the Buffalo News, WKBW-TV will be launching a new news program after Labor Day titled, “The Now.” The program will be anchored by Hannah Buehler along with weather forecasts from Chief Meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski. In Alan Pergament’s article, a reporter will be added to this program too but no one has been specifically named to that role at this time. The 30-minute program will air at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“The Now” is a program that blends local, national, and international news with entertainment and lifestyle stories. The program will be independently produced in Buffalo and is currently hiring for a producer to fill that job. Many other stations owned by Scripps are already airing this program including stations in Phoenix, West Palm Beach, Denver, Cleveland, and Kansas City.
WGRZ-TV has added a new reporter from out west. Joshua Robinson comes from ABC/FOX duopoly KTMF-TV/KWYB-TV in Missoula, Montana, where he was a reporter covering the entire state and fill-in anchor. He is a reporter for “Daybreak” and is a graduate of Fresno State University. Fun fact too, Robinson is also a former pastry chef and worked in Las Vegas at all of Mario Batali’s restaurants on the strip.
In a producer switcheroo, WGRZ-TV hired Adrian Torres, who started in mid0June as a multimedia producer. He previously worked at KXII-TV in Sherman, Texas and also worked in radio. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas and majored in Broadcast Journalism.
Producer Dan Baran is leaving the station to take a producing job in North Carolina at TEGNA sister station, WCNC-TV. Baran has spent just over 3 years at WGRZ-TV and previously worked for 4 years at Time Warner Cable News as a news assistant/producer.
Spectrum News has filled vacancies on the producing side of the newsroom. Christine Streich has joined the station as a Senior Producer after spending 3 years at WKBW-TV as a producer. Streich has worked in public radio in New York City and graduated from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Brian Barker has been promoted to the role of Senior Producer and Dan Eye joins the staff as an Associate Producer.