Swanson, who came to Orlando from Seattle in 2011, said family reasons were behind the decision to leave. “Gaard’s family lives in Seattle. He’s been flying back and forth,” WKMG general manager Skip Valet told Boedeker. “His wife has a job she loves. His children are entrenched there. We don’t want to lose Gaard. He’s well liked in the newsroom.”
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Shortly after midnight on Sunday, Casey Anthony was released from jail. The Orlando stations, which have followed the case for the better part of three years, were ready. All five stations in the market started coverage in primetime Saturday night and stayed on the air well past midnight, when Anthony allegedly boarded a jet at a local airport and took off for a still-unknown destination.
WESH stayed in regular programming until a few minutes before Anthony was released from jail. The NBC affiliate broke in to “Saturday Night Live” with coverage anchored by Cara Moore. WESH went back into regular programming at 1 a.m.
All five Orlando local stations are planning extended coverage this weekend for the release of Casey Anthony from jail, which is slated to happen at an unknown time on Sunday, July 17.
WOFL, WFTV and WKMG will all prepare for a potential release in the middle of the night, starting their coverage during the Saturday late evening broadcasts and going through midnight. All three stations will stay on the air at least 90 minutes and possibly longer as news warrants.
WESH will present live updates during primetime on Saturday and will have extended Anthony coverage on its evening broadcasts. Unlike the other three stations, WESH did not make a minimum time commitment for overnight coverage, but The Orlando Sentinel reported that regular programming will be interrupted for Anthony’s release.
Central Florida News 13 also plans live coverage of Anthony’s release from jail when it happens, supplemented by live hourly reports throughout the weekend.
Rowe, who has been with the Orlando CBS-affiliate for ten years, was in awe of Swanson when the two read together during his audition.
“It was very exciting to sit next to someone I found fascinating personally,” she told the Orlando Sentinel:
Gaard’s depth was immediately apparent. It won’t take long for people to know that this guy has leadership, skills, intelligence. We can’t have enough leaders in that newsroom. We all need to innovate.
Swanson comes to WKMG from Seattle’s KIRO, where he served as sports director for eight years. In addition to his job at KIRO, Swanson has worked as a host for HGTV, appearing on the network’s popular series “Generation Renovation.”
Laura Behnke joins WABC in New York City as a sports anchor-reporter from her position at KNTV in San Jose.
David Novarro has joined WABC as a reporter-anchor. He comes back to Channel 7 where he worked for 14 years prior to going to WFLD Fox Chicago as an anchor.
Sheldon Dutes jumps over 70 markets and joins WBAL-TV in Baltimore as a reporter from WCSC-TV in Charleston.
Gaard Swanson joins WKMG-TV in Orlando as the weeknight main anchor from sportscaster at KIRO-TV in Seattle.
The CBS-affiliate announced this week that Swanson, who has been with KIRO since 2002, would become the station’s primary male anchor.
He will join Lauren Rowe at the anchor desk for WKMG’s 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.
In addition to his job at KIRO, Swanson has worked as a host for HGTV, appearing on the network’s popular series “Generation Renovation.” He has also hosted KIRO’s daytime lifestyle show “Better Northwest.”
“He’s very comfortable on camera,” said Skip Valet, WKMG’s general manager. “You’ll see that almost immediately. He’s very versatile.”
Swanson’s first day on-air will be February 3. Video of Swanson in action after the jump… Read more