After more than a year and half off local airwaves while she recovered from heart problems, Melissa Voetsch returned to TV on Monday and at a new station. The longtime WTOL-TV, Channel 11, anchor-reporter is now a general assignments reporter at WTVG-TV, Channel 13, for at least the next three months.
It’s a short-term arrangement that served the needs for the station and TV news veteran.
For Channel 13, Voetsch fills a temporary reporting vacancy “on kind of a freelance basis, not a necessarily a permanent thing,” said WTVG executive news director Brian Trauring.
“We had some needs and Melissa was available and interested, and so we worked it out so that she will be with us for at least the next few months and we'll see if there's an opportunity after that,” he said. “I feel fortunate to have someone of her ability and her experience level and who is still known in the community working on our team.”
And for Voetsch, 48, the WTVG job, whether it turns into a long-term position or not, is an opportunity to again cover local news.
“I have three children to support and it’s what I love to do,” she said. “I look at it this way. This is the best fit for me right now. I get back into television news, Channel 13 is the No. 1 station, and it’s stable and has a lot of people I know there. And I respect the level of journalism that they represent. That’s what I was looking for when I got back into television news.”
Voetsch, who suffers from cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart and a leaky valve, was first diagnosed with the condition in August, 2011, and took a leave of absence from WTOL to recover. After doctors successfully treated Voetsch, she began rehab treatments before briefly returning to the air. But by May, 2012, her condition forced her off the air again and the WTOL opted to end their professional relationship.
“I tried to go back but my heart wasn’t strong enough,” she said. “I needed to take some more time to recover and at that time they had to move on. I respect their position. They’re a business.”
Months later and with her heart problems hopefully behind her, Voetsch said she’s able and more than ready to return to work.
“Over the last year and a half I’ve taken every single day and worked on getting better with my heart. The doctor has given me a wonderful report; my heart has continued to improve and get stronger and now I'm in the normal range," she said. "My health is good."
Viewers will see Voetsch reporting health stories -- part of what she covered at WTOL -- as well as general assignments for the dayside and early evening newscasts, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“I've got to make sure this works out with my kids,” she said. “So it’s cool. It gives me a chance to get back into it and see how everything falls together.
“But I feel good,” she added. “I’ve never felt happier.”
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.