As WKBW-TV’s (Channel 7) hiring of former WIVB-TV (Channel 4) meteorologist Don Paul illustrates, it isn’t easy to walk off the TV stage when broadcasting is in your blood.
Paul is headed back to local television news six months after he left the CBS affiliate. He has verbally agreed to join Channel 7 on a part-time basis in two months, unless there is an unexpected last-minute contract snag.
Channel 7 General Manager Michael Nurse confirmed the verbal agreement. And two of Paul’s new Channel 7 weather teammates, chief meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski and senior meteorologist Mike Randall, welcomed Paul to the ABC affiliate in messages on social networks.
Paul, 69, left Channel 4 in March after almost 29 years as the station’s top meteorologist.
Sources said Paul also talked with Channel 2 about a part-time position. His decision to join Channel 7 means he will be completing a hat trick of sorts in local television. Beside working at Channel 4, Paul worked at Channel 2 for three years.
He is primarily expected to become Channel 7’s meteorologist on weekend nights in September. He also may do vacation fill-in work and appear during storm coverage.
That job presently is held by Randall, who is expected to become the new weekend morning newscast’s meteorologist in the fall. His contract runs through the end of 2017.
The move to weekends will benefit Randall, who has had to pass on “Shakespeare in the Park” and other acting projects because of nighttime television duties.
When he left Channel 4, Paul said he didn’t plan to retire. He has since started writing an online weather column for The Buffalo News.
Since noncompete contract clauses were declared illegal in local television years ago, Paul has no problem joining a rival of Channel 4. He will have been off the air for about six months anyway, which often was the amount of time specified in noncompete clauses.
Channel 2’s top weatherman, Kevin O’Connell, may not be leaving the TV stage as early as expected, either. O’Connell, 67, is considering working on a part-time basis after his contract expires in less than six months.
O’Connell announced more than a year ago that he would end his quarter-century-long Channel 2 run in January. But O’Connell, who works four days a week, said this week that he has had preliminary discussions with Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner about a new role after January.
“My intentions are to leave at the end of my contract,” O’Connell said. “Jim has indicated to me he’d like to have discussions about possible roles I could play at the station after that.”
It is no secret inside the halls of Channel 2 that a parade of meteorologists is being interviewed for O’Connell’s position.
Toellner has several options after O’Connell’s departure.
He could try to delay O’Connell’s departure while looking for the right candidate to join Patrick Hammer, Maria Genero, Kevin O’Neill and Jennifer Stanonis.
He could have Hammer, considered O’Connell’s heir apparent since being hired a year ago, take over on weeknights. Hammer’s legal problem last winter doesn’t seem to be an issue in the decision. He appears to have recovered on-air after a DWI arrest on Nov. 3, 2015, that resulted in being off the air for more than two months.
Or Toellner could find someone he loves during his current interviews and move Hammer to “Daybreak” in the mornings.
After all, in Minneapolis, Hammer worked in the mornings for years. Genero, who supposedly was only a temporary morning fix after Andy Parker bolted to Channel 7 almost two years ago, has told friends she wants out of those dreadful hours. If Hammer is moved to mornings, Genero could take his weekend role.
Toellner wasn’t revealing anything about his options and didn’t even want them discussed.
“I’m not talking about personnel matters in any way,” he said.
Toellner did give Hammer some support.
“Patrick Hammer is part of this team and we hope he’ll be part of this team for a long time,” he said.
All-Star Decline: The American League’s 4-2 victory over the National League Tuesday night garnered only a 2.2 rating on WUTV, the local Fox affiliate. That was less than half the 4.8 rating for the game a year earlier and an even bigger drop from the 5.7 rating in 2014. NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” was the big Tuesday winner, with an 11.3 rating. ABC’s coverage of the ESPYs – which featured a beautiful and poignant speech by Craig Sager, the TNT announcer battling leukemia – had a 2.3 rating Wednesday on Channel 7.
Convention time: Channel 4 is planning to send Dave Greber and Teresa Weakley to cover the Republican National Convention next week, and Greber and Jordan Williams to cover the Democratic convention a week later.
Magical moment: When he was the long snapper for the Buffalo Bills, Jon Dorenbos’ ability to do magic card tricks became legend. Now, Dorenbos has achieved national fame after receiving the Golden Buzzer treatment by guest judge Ne-Yo Tuesday night on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” This means he has qualified for the live finals edition of the popular program. He was identified on “AGT” as “the long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles, where he has played since 2006.” He was the long snapper for the Bills in 2003-2004.