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Ch. 2 hopes talented Welshofer drives viewers to 'Daybreak,' website

Kate Welshofer is a television natural who is talented and full of charm and personality.

That is clear from the first week watching WGRZ-TV's new hire introduce herself to the "Daybreak" audience.

Let's call her the Why Woman.

As in, why is she on "Daybreak," using a person dressed in an elephant's costume to address what she called "the elephant in the room": "Who are you and what are you doing at Channel 2?"

Good questions.

After all, the station already has Why Guy Kevin O'Neill to provide entertainment and silliness in the morning while interviewing people on location stories.

In the first few days, Welshofer smiled frequently as she told viewers how to pronounce her name (think of good driver, which she equated to well chauffeur) and introduced viewers to the high school, a hair salon and a pizzeria in her hometown of Perry.

She also self-deprecatingly revealed the high school gym "was the sight of so much embarrassment on my part" and that she was named the town's Sea Serpent Festival Queen in 1991.

On set with co-anchors Melissa Holmes and Pete Gallivan, Welshofer added the title was "affectionately known" as the Sea Hag in Perry.

On her first day, she asked viewers for help in "highlighting people, places and stories" before concluding: "What am I doing here? I can't wait to find out."

Her talents reminded me of a female version of former Channel 7 legend Don Polec, who cleverly told odd feature stories.

She came on the first two days around 6:40 a.m., which I found a bit odd because that is usually the time people want information before heading to work.

She showed up at 6:15 a.m. Thursday on day three and was reduced to standing near "Daybreak" co-anchors Melissa Holmes and Pete Gallivan and telling viewers "What's Trending."

It was a trend. She was back doing "What's Trending" on Friday, telling viewers that different-colored Skittles taste differently and about a video that purported to show how to get the most meat out of eating chicken wings.

That's when I came to the conclusion that Channel 2 doesn't really know what to do with her before she gets viewers' suggestions about what people, places and stories to highlight.

It also made me wonder if Welshofer was hired away from Albany cable TV to do something else – possibly to anchor a new half-hour entertainment program – and may eventually get to do it.

Her features might work better on the evening newscasts, which could use a lighter touch at the end in the same way that Polec provided them.

Surely, there has to be more than "Daybreak" in her future.

I reached out to Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner to ask what he hoped she'd bring to the program and Channel 2.

"We are always striving for more unique content that you won’t see anywhere else and reducing repetition in our shows," wrote Toellner. "Kate is a talented writer, editor, content producer and video talent that will add interesting elements to all of our platforms. Anything done well works. She is not replacing anyone, she is additive."

Later, he added that in her first two days, her videos "have been by far the most viewed on the site."

In other words, she is trending, and for good reason.

Now if only Channel 2 would figure out how to use Welshofer as well as she used the elephant. I can't wait to find out.

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