It took so long for popular WIVB-TV anchor-reporter Brittni Smallwood to say goodbye Tuesday to her Channel 4 colleagues in news, sales, promotion and engineering that she expected to be very late for a doctor's appointment.
"I was saying goodbye all day," said Smallwood late Tuesday on her ride home near Rochester after announcing her departure on the separate "Wake Up!" shows that air on Channel 4 and WNLO-TV (Channel 23). "I'm going to be at least 40 minutes late to my doctor's appointment. Everybody was so wonderful. It was hard to say goodbye to everybody."
Smallwood's contract ended and she said goodbye after five years at the station.
"My contract expired and it's time," said Smallwood. "It all worked out. Everything was amicable."
She is three weeks away from delivering her first child and plans to spend the time immediately afterward with her daughter – to be named Grace – and husband. She left rather than take maternity leave.
"I just decided it was the best time and everybody ended on good terms," Smallwood said. "I told them I would let them know when baby Grace gets here and send them pictures."
It might not be too long before she uses one of the best voices on Buffalo television again on-air and says hello again to viewers in Rochester or Buffalo. She said her long-term plan hasn’t "been etched in stone yet."
"I have some things in the works, nothing is solidified yet," said Smallwood. "But I do plan on getting back to work. I don't plan on staying home forever. I'm open to working in either Buffalo or Rochester."
She isn't sure if she'll return to television or try something else.
"I still haven't decided," Smallwood said. "The nice thing is there are a number of different avenues that I could go in."
She left Channel 4 about a month after the station decided to go in a different avenue in the morning. Smallwood was the temporary "Wake Up!" anchor for almost a year of improved ratings before the station hired Melanie Orlins as the permanent co-anchor alongside Jordan Williams.
Smallwood made some local TV history in July of 2015. When she was named anchor of the 8 a.m. edition of "Wake Up!" carried on WNLO, Channel 4's smaller sister station, she became the first African-American to regularly anchor a weekday news program in Buffalo in about two decades. The list of African-American anchors here in prominent positions isn't a long one. Buffalo has a history of under-representing on-air minorities.
She would have made even more history if she had been named the anchor of Channel 4's more prominent 4:30 to 7 a.m. edition of "Wake Up!"
Viewers will never know if Smallwood would have stayed if she got the permanent morning job but her willingness to potentially return to television news may be the answer.
"I appreciate everything that everyone did for me on Channel 4," she said. "I appreciate my time at Channel 4. It was wonderful working with everyone. It was just time. That was it."