As on-air positions in television news go, Sarah Bloomquist couldn't have started any lower. In 1995, WTVG-TV, Channel 13, hired her as an overnight reporter -- with the not-ready-for-prime-time hours of 1:30 to 10:30 a.m.
It was a perfect fit at the time: The recent college graduate was eager to prove herself, and a hometown station was willing to give her the opportunity.
And they're still together after all these years. Bloomquist, 30, is the ABC-owned station's senior reporter and a weekend anchor (Sundays).
Soon, however, she will be moving on -- with WTVG's blessing. She is going to the ABC-owned station in Philadelphia, WPVI, where she will serve as a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor. Her last day at WTVG is scheduled for Aug. 29.
She's making a huge leap in market size: Toledo is No. 68; Philadelphia is No. 4. (With 2.8 million households, the Philadelphia market is nearly seven times bigger than Toledo.)
Indeed, working for a network-owned station does have its advantages. “You hear a lot about that [the possibility of getting promoted by the parent company], and I'm living proof that it can happen,” she said. “They've been really good to me.”
WPVI has the No. 1-rated newscast in all time slots except 11 p.m. In most cases, it is a dominant No. 1. She is scheduled to start there Sept. 2.
Bloomquist, whose family has deep roots in Toledo, said the chance to work for the “No. 1 news station in the No. 4 market” qualifies as a dream job. “You've got to seize the opportunity when it's there,” she said. “My heart will always be here in Toledo, but I just couldn't pass this up.”
Despite her humble beginnings at WTVG, her career quickly blossomed. Today, she is generally regarded as the best television reporter in Toledo. In 2001, she was named the state's best TV reporter (for medium markets) by the Associated Press. In 2002, she was nominated for two regional Emmy Awards.
“Her potential is nearly unlimited,” WTVG news director Brian Trauring said. “She's got that competitive fire that managers look for.”
She credits her experience as an overnight reporter, where long periods of time are spent listening to the scanner for police and fire calls, for her propensity toward breaking news. “People in the newsroom know how much I thrive on chasing a story,” she said.
Bloomquist is the fourth WTVG newsroom employee since 1998 to land a job at an ABC-owned station in a Top 10 market. News director Janet Hundley, sports anchor Jeff Blanzy, and producer Jamee Garton Insko are now at Chicago's WLS. Another former WTVG employee, news reporter Adaora Udoji, works for ABC News.
WTVG general manager David L. Zamichow said: “I'm delighted Sarah is staying in the company. I think she's a fabulous talent.”
CHANGING ROLES: WNWO-TV, Channel 24, will have a familiar face for its weekend weathercasts while Kelli Durand is on maternity leave. Dave Hecht will fill in for Durand, who is expected to be out for about two months, on the weekends and work on special projects and features during the week, according to news director Lou Hebert. Hecht is not expected to return to the morning newscast, which was his home for three years.
STAYING PUT: WTVG morning/noon news anchor Jeff Smith has signed a one-year contract extension. He is on the air for 2 hours, 30 minutes each weekday -- the most of any anchor in Toledo.
PROMOTION: WUPW-TV, Channel 36, has filled a key behind-the-scenes position for its 10 p.m. newscast. Stacy Mutersbaugh, formerly the associate producer, was promoted to producer. She succeeds Mark Yoder, who was hired by a Columbus station.