Bill Ritter is established as the top anchor at WABC/Channel 7. But since 2001, he has also been the go-to guy for Christmas newscasts.
Ritter, who is Jewish, does not mind logging some holiday hours to help his fellow man (and woman) celebrate the birth of Jesus.
“We now have two Jewish anchors, but before Phil [Lipof] got hired I was the only male Jewish anchor,” Ritter tells FishbowlNY. “You work Christmas Day. It’s the right thing to do.”
Ritter would typically anchor December 25th newscasts in every daypart. However, this year’s schedule is slightly altered. Since it’s a Sunday, there is no noon newscast. And with the NBA kicking off the season on ABC that afternoon, the 6 p.m. broadcast is preempted.
But this is more than about Ritter’s Christmas work ethic. A more impressive WABC holiday tradition is the reading of viewer emails during the morning newscasts from 6 to 10 a.m. (with a break for Good Morning America). It’s a heavy dose of communal experience for Ritter, this year’s co-anchor Jen Maxfield, and meteorologist Lee Goldberg.
“After 9/11, we thought we want to be able to have people express themselves in a way that would be interactive, that they’d have an access to a television station, and it was before the Web took off,” Ritter says.