Hey, Is Someone Retiring This Week

In case you’re reading OMW from underneath a rock, a reminder…Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 is saying goodbye this week to one of the few remaining news anchor icons in the Cleveland market.

You can be forgiven if you get a sense of “deja vu” this week while watching the station pay tribute to long-time “NewsChannel 5” anchor Ted Henry…who exits the anchor chair after the 11 PM newscast on Tuesday.

After all, the station celebrated his 35th anniversary a few years ago with various clips and retrospectives of Henry’s time at 3001 Euclid. Perhaps, at the time, they knew he would be retiring soon.

With Ted Henry’s exit nearly here, he got the full treatment over the weekend from two local newspaper writers who cover television.

Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington has her take here, and Beacon Journal pop culture writer Rich Heldenfels has his take here.

Both have a taste of Ted’s first taste of broadcasting – producing radio commercials for his father’s Hartville hardware store, which aired on then-religious WTOF in Canton, his hometown.

It wasn’t a good fit, admits Henry…the station was small, and had little audience, and potential customers of his father’s hardware store were mostly Amish, and didn’t own radios.

Oh, and Ted Henry was just 16 years-old, and hadn’t found his broadcasting voice, to put it mildly.

We wonder…did Ted’s father even remotely imagine that his son would be one of the biggest names in Northeast Ohio broadcasting one day?

From Canton, Ted went to Akron’s WAKR, to Youngstown, then WEWS, where did weekend weather and newscast producing in 1972 before becoming evening co-anchor in 1975. Until…Wednesday.

Oh, and a stint in the Peace Corps was in there as well.

Some scattered interesting observations here…our time schedule is a bit more compressed than we’d expected this afternoon, so we’ll just put up random quotes from the two articles:

(Heldenfels:) As for anchoring somewhere other than Northeast Ohio, Henry said there were opportunities but this was his home — ”and I saw some really good people leave Cleveland — and die on the vine.

(Washington:) “The smartest thing I ever did is never try to leave Cleveland,” said Henry, who co-anchors with Danita Harris.

————

(Washington:) It’s doubtful that, because of changes in the way local television works, Henry’s replacement will have an opportunity to stay at one station as long as he did.

(Heldenfels:) Asked whom he would like to succeed him, he said, ”The business is changing so quickly now, I frankly don’t know what type of individual would be the most likely to succeed. . . . [Former Channel 5 executive] Don Perris told me before he retired — this was back in the mid-’80s — that the day was coming quickly when there would be two or one TV stations in Northeast Ohio doing news. He was off by a couple decades, but it’s coming.”

Henry believes Channel 5 will be the last one standing. But even as Henry looks toward a new chapter in life, he still remembers the love he has for broadcasting.

———

We’ll have a lot more to say about that last part, later.

But no, to quote Julie Washington, we’re not a “local media watcher” speculating that WEWS will reach out to former WKYC/3 anchor Tim White, now living in Cody, Wyoming. We haven’t heard any rumblings from 3001 Euclid that would suggest that…so if WEWS’ Viki Regan is interested in that move, she’s not telling anyone who has contact with us.

For the nonce, the plan is still apparently to use a variety of co-anchors alongside Danita Harris.

After he’s said goodbye, and after the latest ratings “sweeps” period ends, WEWS will pay tribute to Henry in an hour-long special…set to air May 26th…

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