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Newcomer Waldman, Genero winners in Ch. 2 weather realignment; O'Neill out in the cold

At 11 p.m. Monday, Kevin O’Neill was the meteorologist on Channel 2’s newscast.

I hope that made a lot of his fans happy.

I was surprised by the number of readers who were concerned that the reorganization of Channel 2’s weather department meant they would see less of O’Neill doing forecasts.

The station began running an amusing promo last week during the Rio Olympics in which Maria Genero passed the morning weather torch to Patrick Hammer. In the new alignment, Hammer takes over on “Daybreak” on Monday.

Genero will move to the weather on weekend “Daybreak” -- O’Neill’s former spot -- and on Monday when main weatherman Kevin O’Connell has off in his four-day-a week schedule.

When O’Connell retires in January, Genero and a newcomer, Heather Waldman, will split the 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. from Monday through Sunday. Genero will be working a Monday through Friday schedule, Waldman will be working Wednesday through Sunday.

Jennifer Stanonis takes over Hammer’s weekend night shifts. She has announced on air that she is expecting a baby in January, when she will take some time off.

Some readers wanted to know where that leaves O’Neill, who earned a meteorological degree while doing his regular job as a feature reporter. It leaves him as a fill-in weather anchor, like he was on Monday night. He will be primarily focusing on his old feature job.

“We like having him five days a week as part of ‘Daybreak,’” said General Manager Jim Toellner. “His live shots are one of the most popular parts of the program.”

I’ve been asked by readers to assess the winners and losers in this realignment.

As far as weather is concerned, O’Neill’s new role appears to be a demotion since he has no regular assignment in the department and will literally be out in the cold on some of his live shots when he does features. However, he certainly would be eligible to get more weather work after O'Connell retires, Genero moves to a Monday through Friday schedule and Stanonis is on maternity leave.

Hammer’s shift also could be viewed as a demotion since he was originally hired to be O’Connell’s replacement. Morning TV is important, but the top meteorologists work evenings. However, Hammer will get the title of chief meteorologist when O'Connell retires and the move to mornings is understandable since he worked mornings in Minneapolis.

Stanonis is making a lateral move.

Genero clearly is the winner. She gets a promotion since eventually she will be sharing O’Connell’s duties with Waldman.

Waldman, who arrives from AccuWeather, is the big winner. She essentially is getting the role that Hammer was hired for without having to spend a year getting to know Buffalo and Buffalo to get to know her.

I don’t know much about her, either. Here’s what her AccuWeather biography says:

“An AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and NWA Telvision Seal-holder, Heather has led live broadcasts during big-impact weather events for FOX Business, ABC Digital News, the Big Ten Network and ESPN’s SEC Network, and more.  She has extensive experience in front of the camera and effectively communicates breaking weather news, information, and updates.  She also broadcasts for the AccuWeather Network and AccuWeather Live.  Heather has a broad range of experience behind the scenes, including work with Sony and the Emmy-nominated Centre County Report.  With degrees in communications and meteorology from Pennsylvania State University, Heather has had the opportunity to learn from the best in the broadcast meteorology industry. 

Heather became intrigued by weather as a child when she was extremely fearful of dark skies.  They used to send her running to the basement!  That fear stopped when one of Heather’s childhood teachers encouraged her to learn more about the fascinating phenomenon of our ever-changing weather.  Heather immersed herself in every weather-related book that she could find and knew her career would revolve around weather.  When she is not researching and reporting on weather patterns, Heather, an avid runner, enjoys training for half marathons.”

And what did Toellner like about her?

“Her credentials and experience doing AccuWeather, where she was doing about 90 forecasts a week for various markets,” said Toellner.

He added that Waldman was under contract but had an out for Buffalo and a few other Northeastern markets.

“It was just because she was excited about doing weather here,” said Toellner.

He said several candidates were brought in for interviews and Waldman was among three who were tested by focus groups.

“Her expertise and enthusiasm, along with the reaction of the focus group, made her the standout choice,” said Toellner. “She was the winner.”


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