FORT MYERS — 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.