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Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo

Anchor Lee Van Ameyde Transitions to New Role at WZZM

Lee Van Ameyde is reducing his hours at the WZZM anchor desk, according to Mlive.com.

Van Ameyde, who has worked at the Grand Rapids ABC affiliate for 36 years, is transitioning to a new role as the head of the station’s investigative team. He will continue to anchor the 5:30 and 6 p.m. newscasts but will no longer anchor at 11 p.m.

“You won’t see Lee on the WZZM 13 News at 11 p.m., but you will see Lee and his Watchdog team out in the community – demanding answers from our politicians, watching out for your best interests and making sure that your voice is heard,” news director Stanton Tang told Mlive.com.

Juliet Dragos will continue to anchor the 11 p.m. newscast. No co-anchor has been named.

Tara Hernandez Says Goodbye to WXMI

WXMI sports anchor Tara Hernandez is signing off from the Grand Rapids Fox affiliate, according to Mlive.com.

Hernandez joined the station in 2008 from WJBF in Augusta. Her last day at WXMI is Wednesday, and she begins next week as communications and marketing manager at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids.

“In this position, I’ve met so many incredible people and covered so many great things,” she told Mlive.com. “But some of my favorite things are the daily, local stories. Telling stories about people you wouldn’t know unless you watched FOX17.”

WXMI Photographer Recovering From Live Truck Crash

A WXMI photographer suffered fractured leg after he was involved in a crash while driving the station’s live truck Friday morning.

The photographer was traveling on U.S. 131 Friday morning when he “hit an arrow board traffic sign where a work crew was making an emergency repair to a pothole,” according to WXMI. The live truck spun out and crashed, and he was pinned inside the vehicle. He was alert and talking as he was extricated from the truck and taken to a Grand Rapids hospital for treatment.

The crash resulted in lane closures on U.S. 131 as emergency crews removed the photographer from the live truck and cleared the accident scene.

VIDEO: Murder Suspect Gives WXMI Tour of Crime Scene

Ten days before he was charged with murder, a Michigan landlord granted Grand Rapids Fox affiliate WXMI extensive access to the murder scene (video after the jump).

WXMI reporter Mitch Fick interviewed Marion Conley, who was charged this week with the murder of one of his tenants, on March 10. In the interview, Conley showed Fick where the body was found and laughed about how police searched his house for the murder weapon.

“You can take a picture if you want to,” Conley told Fick. “There’s two puddles over there.”

“When I sat down with Mr. Conley there at the house where Jodi Snyder was found dead, he was open, cordial, downright hospitable,” Fick said on WXMI Thursday. “He showed me all around the home, talked to me about where the body was found … and answered all my questions very honestly. He made no impression whatsoever that he could have been committing any sort of crime.” Read more

WXMI Launches Weekend Morning Newscasts

Grand Rapids Fox affiliate WXMI has launched weekend morning newscasts.

The newscasts, which debuted Saturday and will run both mornings from 5 to 9 a.m., will be anchored by Tim Doty and Leigh Ann Towne.

The station has also hired meteorologist Kelly Smith for the newscast. Smith joins WXMI from KDLT, the NBC affiliate in Sioux Falls, S.D.

VIDEO: Reporter Makes Snow Angel in Skirt

WXMI reporter Courtney Perna punctuated her 6 p.m. live shot about snowy road conditions in the area by encouraging viewers of the Grand Rapids FOX affiliate to enjoy the powdery goodness that had fallen on the area. You can watch the video after the jump.

In the true spirit of “show don’t tell,” Perna performed a perfectly executed backwards “trust fall” into the eighteen inches of snow behind her and began creating a snow angel. Though we at TVSpy can’t pretend we haven’t seen this move before, we were impressed that she was wearing a skirt when she did it. See the video inside. Read more

WWMT Adds Weekend Morning Newscasts

Grand Rapids CBS affiliate WWMT is launching weekend morning newscasts later this month.

The newscasts will air Saturdays from 6 to 8 a.m. and Sundays from 7 to 9 a.m. beginning January 19. Jessica Harthorn (left),a veteran WWMT reporter, will anchor. She will be joined by meteorologist Cyndi Kahlbaum (right).

“These weekend morning newscasts will deliver breaking news and severe weather coverage while also reflecting more of a ‘Face the Nation’ feel on the local level,” VP-GM Jim Lutton said in a statement. “We will incorporate major live interviews, debate the hot issues and report live on the scene of developing stories with a dedicated reporter.”

Heather Walker Joins WOOD in Grand Rapids

Heather Walker has joined WOOD, the Grand Rapids NBC affiliate, as a reporter.

“WOOD-TV has such a great reputation around the country for its investigative work,” said Walker. “I’m thrilled to be a part of the team and to start telling West Michigan’s stories that matter.”

Walker comes to WOOD from CBS affiliate KIMA in Yakima, WA where she was an investigative reporter and anchor.

According to MLive.com, Walker is expected to make her debut on the WOOD news at 10 and 11 p.m. sometime next week.

Entertainment Reporter Emily Richett Leaving WXMI

Emily Richett is leaving WXMI after almost seven years as a feature and entertainment reporter for the Grand Rapids Fox affiliate.

“Being a FOX 17 News Reporter and sharing stories about the people, places and good news in our community has been a dream job,” she wrote on Facebook Monday. “But after 6.5 years, I’ve decided it was time for the next story in my career.”

Friday will be Richett’s last day reporting for the WXMI morning newscast. She said has “an exciting new adventure” that she will share soon. [h/t MLive.com]

Grand Rapids’ WOOD Upgrades Look

WOOD, the NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids Michigan, unveiled a sleek new set this week.

Designed by FX Design Group, the set was a year in planning and features the use of bold color graphics and a massive wall of monitors featuring 16 55″ flat screens.  The monitors can be fed as a whole or by single feeds.

Newscast Studio has a brief explanation and pictures of the design on their site.  Click here to view.  WOOD’s website also features both a retrospective of the station’s sets over fifty years and a gallery of their new set.  Click here to see the 50 year retrospectiveClick here to view the new set gallery.  You can also watch a video walk through with WOOD anchors and a shot of the monitor wall after the jump.

Read more

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