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10 local anchors and reporters with the chops to make it in the big time

A few weekends ago, I was visiting family in Washington, D.C., when I saw a familiar face on television in the morning.

Former Channel 4 meteorologist Amelia Segal seems to be doing quite nicely delivering the weather on weekends for the local NBC affiliate in the No. 8 market in the country.

She’s been given a fashion makeover.

Segal’s rise to a Top 10 market started me thinking about the young anchor and reporters in Western New York who could eventually follow her into the big time.

It isn’t always easy to predict. To be honest, I didn’t expect Segal to get there so quickly.

In addition, personal situations can get in the way of career advancement. Anchors and reporters who fall in love in Buffalo – or with Buffalo – tend to stay here.

But ignoring those situations, here is my Top 10 list of local television anchors and reporters who eventually could make it to a Top 10 market.

1. Jonah Javad, Channel 2 sports: When he arrived, Javad was a little too cocky and his references were a little too obscure. But he has calmed down, which has made his personality much more palatable. He also knows his stuff and is opinionated, two assets for any sports journalist. He also really has no place to go at Channel 2, since sports director Adam Benigni isn’t going anywhere after having waited so long for Ed Kilgore to retire. I wouldn’t be surprised if Javad stayed a few more years before getting a job in a bigger market. The fact that sports jobs rarely change hands anywhere and stations don’t value them as much as they used to could weigh against his advancement. But it wouldn’t shock me if Javad eventually made it to ESPN or Fox Sports 1.

2. Nalina Shapiro: Channel 4 certainly is showcasing Shaprio by naming her the 5:30 and 10 p.m. weekday anchor. She hasn’t been a big audience hit yet, but she uses social media well. In her mid-20s, Shapiro is believed to be the youngest permanent female anchor of a weekday evening broadcast here in about a quarter of a century. She could stay here a few more years to get valuable experience and then leave because she has the look and sound of a bigger-market anchor.

3. Brittni Smallwood, Channel 4 anchor-reporter: Smallwood quietly made some Buffalo broadcasting history as the first African-American anchor of a weekday newscast in decades. Still, it isn’t a prominent position, since Smallwood anchors the 8 a.m. hour of “Wake Up!” on WNLO-TV, Channel 4’s little-watched sister station. Smallwood, who recently married, has a great voice and an assertive reporting style that makes her a big-market possibility if that is what she wants.

4. Dave Greber, Channel 4 reporter: Every time I see one of his reports I’m shocked that Greber wasn’t named the weekend anchor in place of the departed Lou Raguse. Greber has a strong voice and a commanding style as both a reporter and a fill-in anchor. He is the best of the station’s new hires. New News Director Scott Levy opted to fill all his open anchor slots with young females. I don’t know how Greber feels about that, but it could eventually motivate him to leave. He certainly has big-market potential.

5. Danny Spewak, Channel 2: Spewak has been very impressive since arriving here two years ago. He has a pleasant voice and manner, and news-gathering instincts covering a variety of topics. Since he grew up in St. Louis, he wouldn’t appear to be wedded to this area, and certainly has the potential to leave it for a Gannett station in a larger market.

6. Katie Morse, Channel 7 anchor-reporter: Morse started at YNN (now Time Warner Cable News) and was as dull as just about every anchor on the cable channel. But since she arrived at Channel 7, Morse has done strong work both as a reporter and as a Sunday anchor. It is almost like watching two different people. Morse actually is allowed to exhibit some personality on Channel 7.

7. Hannah Buehler, Channel 7 reporter: Buehler left a job with the Buffalo Bills to join Channel 7. The new owners of the Bills and the station have invested a lot of money in trying to improve. Both appear to have done that. Buehler is one of the station’s best new reporters. She is aggressive and does a good job telling a story. I could see her leaving for a bigger market – if that is her goal – before the Bills win a playoff game under Rex Ryan.

8. Erica Brecher, Channel 2: Brecher looks young enough to still be in college, but she immediately impressed with her aggressiveness and comfort level when she does live stand-up reports.

9. Andrew Baglini, Channel 4: The young Channel 4 meteorologist hasn’t exhibited the theatrical skills that were on his resume, but Baglini does a solid job delivering an understandable weather report on weekends. With Todd Santos the likely heir apparent to Don Paul if and when Paul retires, Baglini would appear to be blocked if he has ambitions to be No. 1 here, so he’ll have to go elsewhere. He also is Brecher’s boyfriend, which could complicate things. However, they found jobs in the same market here, so they could do it again if that’s what they want.

10 (tie) Joe Buscaglia, Channel 7 sports: The former Bills beat reporter for WGR radio has had about as smooth a transition to television as anyone in recent memory. Buscaglia has a strong presence, uses social media well and is much more opinionated on TV as an anchor than he was on radio. He does have to clean up his writing and his grammar if he wants to hit the big time.

10 (tie) Ed Drantch, Channel 7 reporter: He is the same feisty reporter he was at Channel 4. He also has been given an opportunity to anchor, and does a good job alongside Morse. He might not be anchor material in a bigger market, but he is aggressive enough as a reporter to eventually grab a big-market job if that is what he wants.