WABC-TV/Channel 7 has turned the corner from the ugly situation involving Heidi Jones.
The station has hired Amy Freeze, yes Freeze, as their new weekend morning meteorologist.
Freeze, 36, had been the former chief meteorologist at the Fox affiliate in Chicago.
TimeOutChicago.com reports that Freeze was bounced out of her job unceremoniously on February 20 after four years, as her contract wasn’t renewed.
Now in New York, though, WABC news director Kenny Plotnik tells FishbowlNY that Freeze will be an asset to the station.
“She brings a wealth of knowledge that will mix in very well with our three people, in terms of understanding the weather, explaining it to our audience, and strong forecasting.”
Freeze reunites with David Navarro, a 10-year veteran of the Fox Chicago station. (Navarro had previously done anchoring and reporting at WABC).
“She is a very strong personality, and I think she will communicate,” Plotnik says. “I think she will connect very well with the audience.”
Freeze joins WABC following the Jones ordeal, in which the former meteorologist was arrested in December for lying to police about an alleged sexual attack in Central Park. Various reports said Jones, who also got national exposure on Good Morning America, told police she made up the story because she was stressed out and wanted attention.
She was suspended and never worked again at WABC.
That ultimately led Channel 7 to post job ads for the position.
“There [were] a lot of qualified people from all over the country, locally and nationally,” Plotnik says. “We wanted to find someone that would mix, that would gel well with our other three folks.”
Once of those four is Jeff Smith, who had been pulling double duty on the weekends. Smith has been officially promoted to weekend nighttime newscasts (6 p.m. and 11 p.m.).
“Now we have four meteorologists, not weather forecasters, not people who just do weather,” Plotnik says.
It will likely take Freeze, who starts at WABC on Monday, a couple of weeks to get fully trained before viewers will see her weekend forecasts.
In the end, Plotnik says it was a difficult undertaking to make the choice, but he’s certain it was the correct one.
“It took me a long time to do it, but I’m proud to have her here.”
Freeze holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Science from the University of Pennsylvania and degrees in Communications and Meteorology from Brigham Young University and Mississippi State University, respectively.
Freeze, hired as a full timer, will eventually handle some reporting during the week.
“It’s unclear what yet.” Plotnik says. “…Certainly with her expertise in environmental sciences that would probably be a good place to have her do some reporting.”