TV 7&4 and 29&8 anchors Erika Erickson, Brody O’Connell and Kate Fox are all moving on from the station they've reported news from the past three years.
Erickson and O’Connell are jumping to larger markets; Erickson will be reporting for WJBK-TV FOX 2 in Detroit and O’Connell for WBTV in Charlotte – a Top 50 market.
“The jump made it worth (leaving),” says O’Connell, a Pittsburgh native who’s been anchoring the weekday morning show. “It was in my perimeters to stay on the East Coast.”
O’Connell is engaged to Fox, weekend anchor and Rochester, Mich. native. Both were hired in 2010 and later promoted to the anchor desk. Fox’s future role is undecided, O’Connell says, while he settles into his new job. “She was willing to let me venture out and we both thought this was a good (position)…”
Brendan Kinney (pictured top left), who's from Port Huron and graduated from Valparaiso University, replaces Fox as weekend anchor and reporter. He starts at the station today and will begin anchoring weekends June 1. The station is still seeking replacements for O’Connell and Erickson.
Erickson, whose last newscasts are tomorrow (Friday), was primarily on 29&8 but recently filled in on 7&4. She’ll be returning to the same FOX station she interned at while attending Wayne State University.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” Erickson says about the move to a larger market. “But I couldn’t pass it up!” FOX contacted her about an open position after seeing one of her stories on 7&4, she says, adding her daily producing experience was an added bonus.
Jill Saarela, president and CEO of WGTU/WGTQ-TV and WPBN/WTOM-TV, says it’s “always a bittersweet moment” when employees leave. “Nine times out of ten, we hire them right out of school, train them and they get great offers – which makes us very proud. The other instance is when a contract is up and station management feels we could find a better anchor/reporter for our viewers.”
While many have gone on to bigger markets, others have chosen to make Traverse City their home, adds WPBN/WTOM-TV Vice President of News Pat Livingston. He cites as examples current Meteorologist Joe Charlevoix and evening anchor Marc Schollett, who’s won two Edward R. Murrow Awards. Others have come here from bigger markets, as well, like Emmy Award-winning Chief Meteorologist Mark Watkins who came from a top-rated morning news show in Charlotte and “loves it here,” Livingston says. There are also many behind-the-scenes employees with long careers at the station.
“What I tell new hires,” says 27-year-old O’Connell, “is if you work hard and give it your all (here), you can get out of it what you want.”
Here are a few former 7&4 employees who’ve gone on to bigger screens:
Molly Henneberg – A news correspondent for the FOX News Channel based at the network’s Washington D.C. bureau, her career path includes an early evening anchor stint at 7&4. During her FOX career, she’s been a White House correspondent and provided extensive coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 as the first national reporter on the scene.
Dao Vu – Currently co-host of “The Morning Blend” on KTNV in Las Vegas (co-hosting recently with Donny Osmond), Vu worked as a national host for The Weather Channel after gaining on-air experience at 7&4 in the early 2000s.
Pallas Hupé – In the 1990s, she anchored the newly-launched “First at Five” on 7&4. After leaving TC, she did several on-air job stints in the Detroit area and later became the evening anchor at KOVR in Sacramento. She now lives in New Zealand with her husband and two sons, focusing on writing and media coaching.
Adam Bartelmay - A long-time 7&4 anchor, he’s now anchoring the evening news at an NBC affiliate in Joplin, MO.
Diana Fairbanks – She left in 2012 after 12 years to anchor News 4 Wake Up, Winging It Buffalo Style and News 4 at Noon on WIVB in Buffalo, New York.
Melissa Smith – We woke up to her for six years on 7&4. Now she’s waking up viewers in Davenport, Iowa via NBC affiliate KWQC.
Click here to find out where other “famous local TV faces” have gone in this 2010 Ticker.