Eric Wilson is back on the Rockford, Ill., airwaves as the main news anchor for WTVO, the ABC affiliate there owned by Mission Broadcasting. Wilson will anchor weekdays at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. on WTVO and co-anchor at 9 p.m. on WQRF, the market’s Fox affiliate. He started last Thursday. Wilson had spent 19 […]
Eric Wilson is back on the Rockford, Ill., airwaves as the main news anchor for WTVO, the ABC affiliate there owned by Mission Broadcasting. Wilson will anchor weekdays at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. on WTVO and co-anchor at 9 p.m. on WQRF, the market’s Fox affiliate. He started last Thursday.
Wilson had spent 19 years as an anchor for Rockford’s NBC affiliate, before being let go in 2014.
WTVO is operated through a joint sales and shared services agreement by Nexstar. WQRF is owned by Nexstar. The two stations share studios.
“When I abruptly departed my last job in television, it wasn’t my choice,” Wilson told viewers Thursday night. “I was not allowed to say, ‘Thank you,’ or ‘Goodbye.’ Now I get a chance to say, ‘Hello,’ and I’m very excited.”
Wilson will take the place of Nick Toma, who has worked at WTVO for nearly four years.
Toma has accepted a main anchor job at WBRE, a Wilkes-Barre, Pa., station also owned by Nexstar, so he can be closer to his family that lives in northern New Jersey.
“I’ll miss this station,” said Toma at the end of the newscast.
“I’ve truly enjoyed my time bringing you the news each night in the Stateline and the many friends I’ve made here. But it’s time to go home.”
It’s not unusual for on-air news talent to move from one station to another within the same market. Usually, there’s a no-compete clause in contracts that requires the talent to be off the air for a while, usually a year.
The benefit the talent bring to the new station is name recognition. That means less heavy lifting by marketing. And if that established talent brings a history of being well-liked by viewers, that’s a huge bonus.
If the new hire is an unknown in the market, it might take months or years to get a new on-air anchor talent recognized in a market, let alone liked.
So how did WTVO-WQRF market the move? There were tease promos to heighten the suspense, but here’s the spot that I thought captured the emotion of it all very well.
Here’s a spot with a meteorologist who once worked with Wilson.
And here is an example of how members of the community came together to welcome Wilson home.
Here’s the video of Toma and Wilson passing the baton. Very classy.
In local TV news, change is inevitable. What viewers want is transparency, openness and honesty. I think viewers felt a seamless transition from one anchor to another in a way they could see and understand. Well done.