I took a week off from my column, but the questions didn’t. So let’s get right to them.
Sara from Naples writes: “I’m wondering if you have any inside information regarding the weather/meteorology staff for Waterman Broadcasting these days? It seems as though we haven’t seen Robert Van Winkle in a good three weeks, yet he is still listed on the NBC-2 website. Is he on a long pre-hurricane vacation?
“The other night it was deja vu for us long-timers when Len Jennings, Stacey Deffenbaugh and Jim Reif were together at 6 p.m. once again — only this time on NBC-2 rather than their old home at ABC-7. I just smiled at the irony of it all.
“And perhaps you have insight into just what is Jim Reif’s new ‘role’ with the company? If there was an announcement of that, I missed it somehow.”
Thanks, Sara. To get some answers I went to a stand-up guy at NBC-2 who always answers our inquiries in mere moments: Darrell Lieze-Adams, executive news director and manager of promotions at Waterman.
Robert Van Winkle, who made a lot of fans during his tenure as the 6 and 11 p.m. meteorologist, moved to mornings this year at his own behest. Lieze-Adams tells me that Van Winkle has been on vacation and returns Monday.
What you may or may not know is that Jennings, Deffenbaugh and Reif are all long-time Waterman employees, as the two stations are joined at the hip, as it were.
Jennings has been serving as evening anchor at NBC-2 since the dismissal of popular long-time anchor Craig Wolf. Deffenbaugh and Reif can be seen regularly on the midday newscasts on NBC-2. As Lieze-Adams tells us, with summer, come vacations. So with Deffenbaugh and Reif filling in, you’re absolutely correct, it was a reunion of sorts for the old ABC-7 evening news team.
As for the new faces in weather, most have served Waterman in some capacity for a while now, with the exception being Jason Dunning, who is a new face.
In addition to Van Winkle and Haley Webb, Reif and John Patrick have played musical chairs lately as to what station and which newscast they appear on.
Dunning recently joined Waterman, leaving the CBS affiliate in Columbus, Miss.
Also, congrats to weekend anchor Lindsay Logue, who was recently promoted to 4 and 11 p.m. anchor, replacing Jamie Yuccas, who accepted a position as consumer reporter for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.
I recently asked, what do you watch at 4 p.m.? Here are a couple of responses …
Jodi from Bonita writes: “I can tell you what I don’t watch ... three and one half hours of news! Really? I would rather watch ‘Friends’ reruns, or even ‘Roseanne.’ I’ve lost a lot of respect for WINK adding a whole hour of local news, which is nothing but stories repeated over and over by different anchors for three hours. What a poor choice. When I am home, my channel will not be on channel 5 or 2 for anymore than a half hour.”
Dale writes: “The last thing we need is another hour of ‘breaking news’ on WINK. Don’t they understand that news, by definition, is current? It would be nice if the newscasts would use their time to give us expanded coverage of lesser news stories rather than to put two half-hour shows together and call it an hour-long news program, followed by two more of the same.”
I’ll have more of your questions next week.
Former racist erases past
On Sunday, MSNBC will debut the documentary “Erasing Hate,” the true story of a violent, racist skinhead who underwent nearly two years of excruciating procedures to remove the racist tattoos covering his face and hands in an effort to put his past behind him.
The opportunity was made possible by an organization called the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The documentary, which airs at 9 p.m., features interviews with Joe Roy, the SPLC’s chief investigator of hate and extremist groups.
“Erasing Hate” explores Widner’s 16 years in the white power movement, the decision that led him and his wife to renounce the movement and racism, and the obstacles he encountered with his racist past literally etched across his face.
This week’s "Food Network Star" features Courteney Cox, Paula Deen
Season five “Star” winner, Melissa d’Arabian (“Ten Dollar Dinners”), kicks off the episode by challenging each of the 11 finalists to create an amuse bouche in 45 minutes for a special guest using Kellogg’s cereals, toaster pastries and snacks along with other items typically found in a home kitchen.
Guest star Michael Symon (“Iron Chef America”) joins the contestants as they present their dishes one by one.
Then, it’s off to the set of ABC’s “Cougar Town” where the finalists are divided into five teams and challenged to create an on-set meal for the cast and crew. Each team must tailor their meal to the department they are assigned and Paula Deen (“Paula’s Best Dishes”), Courteney Cox, show “Cougar” creator Bill Lawrence and other cast members are on hand to evaluate the final product.
The show airs at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.
Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.