NBC2 fires longtime TV news anchorman Craig Wolf

BILL GREEN
Pronouncer Craig Wolf, right, talks with judges and the Lee County coordinator Connie Harris, left, over the pronunciation of a word as Bonita Springs seventh grader Amanda Masi, center, waits for her word during the 13th Annual Lee County Public Schools Spelling Bee at Three Oaks Middle School in Fort Myers on March 3, 2010. Greg Kahn/Staff

Photo by GREG KAHN // Buy this photo

Pronouncer Craig Wolf, right, talks with judges and the Lee County coordinator Connie Harris, left, over the pronunciation of a word as Bonita Springs seventh grader Amanda Masi, center, waits for her word during the 13th Annual Lee County Public Schools Spelling Bee at Three Oaks Middle School in Fort Myers on March 3, 2010. Greg Kahn/Staff

Craig Wolf

Craig Wolf

— Longtime NBC-2 news anchor Craig Wolf has been fired by Southwest Florida television station WBBH.

Wolf, 56, who worked at the station for more than 17 years, said he was abruptly let go Thursday morning.

“I walked into work at 10 a.m.,” Wolf said. “I was called into the general manager’s office at 10:05. By 10:10 it was all over. By 10:15 I was in my car.”

Wolf said the station told him they were not going to renew his contract which expires in August. The former senior anchor said he does not know why he was fired.

Darrel Lieze-Adams, executive news director and manager of marketing/promotions for Waterman Broadcasting Corp. — which operates NBC-2 and ABC-7, declined to comment, referring the Daily News to Steven Pontius, executive vice president/general manager.

In an e-mail Friday, Pontius would only say, “This is a private personnel matter between Mr. Wolf and the company.”

Wolf said he is “at a loss” by being asked to leave the station immediately.

“This is what hurts me. I wish I would have been able to say goodbye to (co-anchor) Kellie Burns, all my co-workers, and the tens of thousands of loyal NBC-2 news viewers.”

Wolf’s last day on-air was Wednesday. He’s been a WBBH employee since 1993, most recently co-anchoring the noon, 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts Monday through Friday. He was initially hired as a reporter, then a morning anchor before being promoted to senior anchor in 1996.

His contract could prevent him from working at another station in this market for as much as a year from its expiration date.

Lead anchors in large and small markets have faced huge pay cuts due to the tough economy. And, yes, many contracts have not been renewed. But this move is unusual for two reasons: WBBH is usually ranked No. 1 or a close second against main competitor WINK in the Southwest Florida market; and Wolf was seemingly not allowed to fulfill his contract or offered a new one at a lower pay rate.

“I’m out in the community a lot,” Wolf said. “It was the part of the job I loved the most. Over the past 17 years, I’ve had thousands of conversations with people who were strangers to me, but I wasn’t to them. I loved talking to every single one of them. I hope the charities, agencies, organizations and causes I’ve been affiliated with will still want me.”

Wolf says he’s still recovering from the shock and is unsure of his next move.

“It’s been 24 hours and I’m still no closer to understanding it.”

This move comes less than three months after longtime meteorologist Robert Van Winkle was switched to the morning shift.

At the time, Van Winkle told the Daily News it was his decision to make the move. However, many self-proclaimed NBC-2 viewers expressed disbelief with the decision.

Last week, it was announced that Haley Webb, the former morning meteorologist, was promoted to manager of weather services for Waterman Broadcasting.

Newsroom managers have not publicly announced who will replace Wolf on the newscasts he anchored.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 10

richrpd writes:

What a terrible loss this is for Fort Myers. A true gentleman, a true reporter, a true humanitarian. I am personally upset with NBC2's decision. Is this what a person deserves after 17years of service and dedication? I am switching to another news channel. I am not happy with NBC and it's rash and crude decision

blondie writes:

My family are loyal NBC listeners. For years we have watch this channel for news and especially enjoyed Craig Wolfe, Kelly Burns and Robert Van Winkle. I can not imagin why Craig was relieved of his position with NBC News. I truly hope it wasn't because the station wants "younger and hipper" reporters with whom they can identify with more easily. News is a serious subject and must be presented in a mature and respectful manner. Craig Wolfe has those qualities. If he goes to another local station so will we.

RayPray writes:

Not to worry.

Craig Wolfe is now scheduled to take Charlie Sheen's place on Two and a Half Men.

Carolinahalfback writes:

Craig Wolf was the sole reason I have watched channel 2 news for the last 16 years. His professionalism was deeply appreciated. I will look elsewhere for my local news. Corporations are becoming more and more reckless with power.

Carolinahalfback writes:

in response to richrpd:

What a terrible loss this is for Fort Myers. A true gentleman, a true reporter, a true humanitarian. I am personally upset with NBC2's decision. Is this what a person deserves after 17years of service and dedication? I am switching to another news channel. I am not happy with NBC and it's rash and crude decision

Exactly!

MrsT writes:

So sorry to see him go. Hopefully he will remain in the area and turn up on another station soon.

mom2cats writes:

I'm also very disappointed. Kelly Burns annoys me so much with her stupidity and editorial comments on stories. Certainly time for a change now. Hope they don't dump Morgan Palmer even though they don't utilize him enough.

alaskaflake writes:

nbc really missed the mark by firing craig wolf. his calm composure and excellent newcasting added that touch of class that propelled nbc to number one. many viewers, including myself, will no longer watch a station that would fire such a person. the person responsible for these recent changes should be fired.

lilsandspur writes:

Are these people kidding me!? He was about the only reason most people watched- a true gentleman! I feel like I have lost a family member!

GlennFraller writes:

This action is SO typical of FL companies. Fire people with no reason given! Well that's 17 years of Craig's LIFE and career toward possible retirement GONE! That TOO is SO typical for American labor today! Whatever he did I believe he should sue for the station for the rest of what's due him. So Sorry to hear Craig!

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