WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) anchor Pete Gallivan is going back to the future when he becomes the permanent co-anchor of the morning program "Daybreak" after John Beard exits late next week.
He was as surprised as anyone last Friday when General Manager Jim Toellner told him Adam Benigni decided against becoming the "Daybreak" co-anchor to return as sports director, freeing Gallivan to return to the market's No. 1 morning program.
"I was ecstatic," said Gallivan. "It is a show I obviously feel a great sense of ownership for. I have a great passion for that show and connection with the audience."
Gallivan replaced Harold Fisher as the "Daybreak" a year after the program premiered. He was co-anchor alongside first Maryalice Demler and later Jodi Johnston before John Beard replaced him in 2009.
He hoped to get his old job back when Beard exited. But that possibility appeared to be eliminated when evening news anchor Scott Levin decided to return after three months in the automotive industry just when it looked like Benigni was going to get his job.
As sort of a consolation prize, Benigni was named to replace Beard on "Daybreak."
"I was disappointed because I spent 10 years in that seat," conceded Gallivan. "But Adam has been a friend of mine for two decades and I thought he did a great job and I knew 'Daybreak' would be in good hands either way."
"In broadcasting, nothing is guaranteed," he added. "I was going to be a supporter being I've been here 22 years next month."
Gallivan has the coming departure of backup sports anchor Jonah Javad to Dallas next month, Benigni's change of heart and Toellner to thank for his "Daybreak" return.
Benigni, who will also do some anchoring on the news side, wrote in a text that he made his decision because of "the opportunity to return to sports and continue on the news side was appealing. Jonah deserved a shot at sports director. When he decided to leave, I started to reconsider. I'm also very happy for Pete."
Gallivan has been filling in with co-anchor Melissa Holmes when Beard has taken time off so he should be comfortable when he takes the same permanently when Beard leaves late next week.
"Melissa is phenomenal," said Gallivan. "She is a great teammate and so is meteorologist Patrick Hammer. I feel lucky to be sitting next to both of them."