Two weeks ago, Erica Brecher and Andrew Baglini became the first married couple to work together on the same Buffalo newscast in several years.
Husbands and wives working on-air together is a rarity in local TV news, with John Murphy and his wife, Mary Travers Murphy, the most prominent when they worked together at Channel 7 almost 15 years ago.
But the story of Brecher and Baglini is even more amazing when you consider how fortunate they were to eventually get together after Baglini forgot to check his email in 2011 when Brecher proposed he help her celebrate a birthday.
The WIVB-TV couple’s seven-year journey together has included meeting at a Christmas party, the failed email connection and brief tears over the fear that career goals in a tough industry for relationships could end their romance.
But there they were two weeks ago with Baglini awkwardly introducing his wife as Channel 4’s new weekend anchor after her four years as an aggressive reporter at WGRZ-TV (Channel 2).
Baglini’s rambling introduction concluded with the meteorologist saying he would eventually become known as Mr. Erica Brecher.
In her husband’s defense, Brecher conceded in a joint interview at a North Buffalo coffee spot that she and a news producer gave him only about 4 minutes to come up with something.
“I thought of it about 30 seconds before I said it,” Baglini explained. “I asked, 'Is there anything you want me to say?’ ”
“I told him have fun with it,” said Brecher. “My mistake.”
“I knew it was a mouthful but it was a message I wanted to get across,” he added.
“It was very sweet,” said Brecher.
"Very sweet" was a good way to describe their interaction during the interview. Baglini believes Brecher’s hiring is a big boost to Channel 4 News and he gets an additional benefit.
“If I ever get stressed or frustrated in my job, I could always message Erica at Channel 2,” he added. “Now I can just go over and see her. So that’s nice.”
They are still getting used to seeing each other at work.
“It is a little weird for me to see her,” said Baglini, who notes they work at different parts of the newsroom. “Weird in a good way. It makes me happy, I think she is doing a wonderful job. Now I get an added smile seeing my wife there.”
“We’re only crossing right before and doing the shows,” said Brecher. “It is important for me and my career that I am independent person from him as much as I enjoy we are working together and we are so lucky about how well we’ve been received by Western New Yorkers both for our performances individually and as a couple.”
They acknowledge being cautioned about the danger of spending too much time together.
Brecher’s father Stu advised her to “make sure you are both OK with this.”
Baglini’s father Tom had a half-joking remark.
“He said he just doesn’t want us to get sick of each other,” said Baglini.
They graduated from Penn State, where Baglini was a year ahead of Brecher. A native of the Philadelphia suburb of Upper Darby, the 30-year-old Baglini’s first meteorology job was at AccuWeather in State College.
Brecher, 28, who is from Randolph, N.J, was a weather intern at AccuWeather for the first semester of her senior year.
They met at the AccuWeather Christmas party in 2011. When one of Brecher’s friends left early, a mutual acquaintance suggested she meet Baglini, who was at a table devouring some food.
“We talked about an hour and a half,” said Brecher. “I thought he was charming and very good-looking.”
“She seemed fun, very pretty and had a great personality,” said Baglini, who worked at AccuWeather from 2011-2014. "I am a naturally shy person and she was easy to talk to.”
“I never got her number,” added Baglini. “I told you I am shy.”
Brecher wasn’t shy. She sent him an email.
“I wrote my 22nd birthday is coming up, friends are going out at this place, would love to see you there, I had a really good time with you,” said Brecher. “He never showed up.”
“I never saw the email,” explained Baglini. “I’m not great at checking my email. I thought that was a nice night and we’d never see each other again.”
When they ran into each other months later, it took them a second to recognize each other.
“She jokingly yelled at me for not showing up, standing her up and I said, ‘You never messaged me'," said Baglini. "She said, 'check your email.’ I checked and found her email. We had a laugh and ended up exchanging numbers at this point.”
They had a couple of dates before she took a job a few hours away in Elmira. She started dating someone else. Brecher was laughing as she described the year she and Baglini spent away from each other. Baglini wasn’t laughing.
“You got that right,” cracked Baglini. “She broke up with her boyfriend in Elmira.”
“He broke up with me,” corrected Brecher, ever the journalist.
They started dating for real in July of 2013, commuting between Elmira and State College for about a year.
“We both felt we had this connection that we hadn’t tried to explore at this point,” said Baglini.
By July of 2014, they decided it was serious enough to look for jobs in the same TV market.
WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) had openings for a reporter and a temporary meteorologist. Brecher got the reporting job, but Baglini wasn’t comfortable taking a temporary job.
“We both decided she should take this job, it is a great opportunity,” said Baglini. “She was elated for about 30 seconds and then she started crying because she thought it meant we were going to have to break up.”
He assured her that his plan was to come to Buffalo so they could be together.
“At this point, I think I told you I loved you,” Baglini laughed as he recalled saying it. Brecher laughed, too.
When Baglini came to help Brecher move to Buffalo, he saw there was a weather opening at Channel 4. He spent some time with then-Channel 4 meteorologist Don Paul and Paul told him there was an opening.
Baglini interviewed with news director Joe Schlaerth, who was fired soon afterward. Baglini was hired a few weeks later by Peter Jacobus, who was the temporary news director.
So Baglini and Brecher started working for two competing stations. There were no ground rules, but they knew not to discuss planning or anything important to their stations.
There were pluses to working at different stations.
“It was fun,” said Brecher. “I think we maximized the friendships you can make out of it.”
They have friends at all three local news stations, with Channel 7 photojournalist Dave Morales officiating at their May 27, 2017, wedding and Channel 7 producer Sara O’Brien as one of Brecher’s bridesmaids.
The big issue while working at different stations was seeing each other because of their schedules. Brecher said the first two years they “were ships passing in the night.”
“Mondays were our only mutual day off,” said Brecher. “Other than that, I was working morning or days and he was working nights.”
They started having the same schedules in October of 2016.
Brecher said the positives of working together at Channel 4 include sharing dinner breaks, having natural on-air chemistry and having a friendly face in the building who she genuinely cares about.
“Andrew teases me relentlessly,” said Brecher.
“I thought I was being very nice to you,” said Baglini.
It would be nice for the couple if Baglini’s contract situation was resolved soon. While Brecher just signed a three-year deal, Baglini is in negotiations for a new contract.
They both have expressed their love – of Buffalo.
“We’ve really grown to love Buffalo,” said Brecher. “I don’t think there is an end day on our time in Buffalo.”
“I am no rush to leave,” said Baglini. “I don’t know if we will stay forever. We might. We night not. I just know I don’t view Buffalo as a steppingstone as many do. We’ve come to love Buffalo more than we thought we would.”
When it comes to expressing their love of Buffalo, that was a mouthful, too.