(from OrlandoSentinel.com) – Top-rated WFTV-Ch. 9 is replacing anchor Barbara West (right #1) at 5:30 weeknights with Vanessa Welch (right #2).
The change takes effect Labor Day, when WFTV will launch a 6:30 newscast on sister station WRDQ-Ch. 27. Welch will co-anchor the 6:30 newscast with Josh Benson, just as they co-anchor the 10 p.m. news on WRDQ.
WFTV General Manager Shawn Bartelt said the station is making the 5:30 change to provide some flow to the 6:30 newscast. “I have the utmost respect for Barbara West,” Bartelt said. “This is no reflection on Barbara. I have to get more faces into those 90 minutes” from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
West, who has been an anchor since coming to WFTV in 1986, will continue to anchor at noon.
“Barbara covers all of our health content, and we have a lot going on in the coverage of health,” Bartelt said. “We’re focused on kids and obesity, a lot of the stuff happening in the health sphere, a lot of that is online. Barbara brings huge knowledge and resources to that.”
West has covered health for years, but she made national headlines with her questioning of then-Sen. Joe Biden during the 2008 election.
WFTV also will be cutting back on the hours of morning anchor Vanessa Echols (left #1). She is on the air from 5 to 7 a.m. on WFTV, from 7 to 9 a.m. on WRDQ and from noon to 1 p.m. on WFTV.
But starting in October, Bianca Castro (left #2) will become Greg Warmoth’s co-anchor from 7 to 9 a.m. on WRDQ. Castro is coming from Corpus Christi, Texas….Cont….