Local TV types in your area who made it to big time

Pat Sajak was a weatherman and house announcer at WSM-TV (Nashville) back decades ago. He usually had the Creature Feature show late nights on weekends and his spiel was “This is your announcer speaking…”

Frank McGee was news anchor at WSFA-TV (Montgomery) before moving to NBC and being their main man for the early NASA broadcasts.

Jim Varney worked out of an ad agency in Nashville doing commercials for all sorts of goods and services before his Ernest thing took off

I’ll probably think of others.

Jerry Springer. One time mayor of Cincinnati, and anchor of our local NBC station’s nightly news.

Yes, I swell with pride just thinking about the buffoon.

He’s not quite “big time” yet, but **Pat Tomalsulo **at WGN here in Chicago is right on the verge, I think. He’s had a few viral video hits and even co-hosted that SHAQ VS show on ABC a few months back. Keep an eye on him.

Regis Philbin’s first talk show was a local San Diego show in the 1960s. (Uncertain of the year it started.)

RTP area of NC: Bobby Batista of CNN, Jim Axelrod of CBS, Brett Baer of Fox, John Tesh went on to ET before going into music. Also in radio Rick Dees started here.

Suzy Kolber used to be our local sports reporter way back when.

Tesh also served some time at WSMV (may have been WSM-TV when he was there).

Connie Chung was on the local CBS news in L.A. before she ‘made it bigtime’ in New York.

Actually, I preferred Tricia Toyota. Connie Chung didn’t have a song written about her. :stuck_out_tongue:

I worked at the same student station , WKNC at NC State, where Tesh got his start in radio. He left 4 years before I got there. He also played soccer at NCSU but dropped out before getting his degree.

Aaron Brown and Lou Dobbs were both local news anchors in Seattle when I lived there.

Better still was a show called Almost Live. It started as a local talk show hosted by Ross Shafer, who went on to host a late night show in the early days of Fox. With Shafer’s departure, AL was taken over by his second banana, who was a terrible interviewer, but it morphed into a sketch comedy show and moved to Saturdays at 11:30 (Saturday Night Live was pushed back to midnight), and launched the careers of Bill Nye and Joel McHale.

I’m from the part of Connecticut that mostly watches the New York City flagship stations. But among the Connecticut affiliates, Gayle King (now most famous as Oprah Winfrey’s best friend) was a long-time anchor at WFSB, the CBS affiliate in Hartford. And while it was radio, Glenn Beck worked at a New Haven-area station for six years during the 1990s. (I apologize on behalf of the residents of Connecticut who listened to his program enough that he was able to continue to work in broadcasting.)

Off the top of my head, I can only think of Dennis Miller and Mr. Rogers (I already am your neighbor!), but here are some others.

Forrest Sawyer, Deborah Norville, & Jan Hooks all worked in Atlanta before going national.

In Chicago, Shelly Long was huge. She was the “Homemaker’s” (A divison of John M Smythe) girl. She also hosted a lot of local talk and “what to do around town” type shows on WMAQ and NBC owned and operated station.

It was big news when Cheers, which in it’s first year was a rating’s failure but a critical hit was starring such a well known local Chicagoan.

Around here, Chris Kopostasy, a local news anchor, has become a major newscaster for MSNBC and NBC News; when she was hired she switched to using her married name, Chris Jansing.

Channel 10 in Providence, RI, had a “PM Magazine” host in the 1980s by the name of Matt Lauer.

I’m originally from Houston.

TV personalities that made it big in one way or another:

Dan Rather (local reporter, longtime network anchor)
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (was local anchor)
Lisa Malosky (was local sports commentator, TNT - WNBA commentator, American Gladiators host in 1990s)
Ron Franklin (ESPN football commentator, was local sports guy)
Ray Miller (was local news director; host of “Eyes of Texas” syndicated show)
John Quinonez (was local reporter, now ABC News correspondent)
Jacque Reed (was local anchor, was also BET Nightly News anchor)
Tom Jarriel (was local reporter, now ABC News correspondent)
Janet Shamlian (was local anchor, now NBC News correspondent)
Spencer Tillman (local sports guy, now CBS Sports)
Paula Zahn (local anchor, was on CNN)
Linda Ellerbee (local reporter, then NBC News anchor)
Jessica Savitch (local anchor, NBC news anchor)
Dan Patrick (local sports guy, now Texas state senator)
Rick Sanchez (local reporter, now CNN Reporter)

And also a news reporter named Meredith Viera.

Bill Kurtis was a long-time local news anchor in Chicago before getting his gig at… wherever it was. A&E Channel? Bill’s co-anchor, Walter Jacobson (can you imagine two white guys being co-anchors anymore? But I digress) never made it big nationally, but his son plays Dr. Taub on “House MD.”

And Robin Meade was a local cutie before moving to CNN.

Indianapolis has a few:

Jane Pauley
Kat Sadler (celebrity-type on E!)
David Letterman (former weatherman)

There’s some other guy on E!, but I can’t think of his name.