WPXI co-anchor departing; replacement named
There will be a new look to the mornings at WPXI-TV Channel 11 News, starting Oct. 22.
Co-anchor Todd McDermott, who came to the station in January 2010, is moving to WPBF-TV, a Hearst-owned ABC affiliate in West Palm Beach, Fla., to be closer to his daughter.
Joe Arena, most recently a news anchor and reporter for five years at WIVB, a Lin Television-owned CBS outlet in Buffalo, will replace him. Arena, a New York City native who attended Syracuse University, assisted Tom Brokaw on his “Greatest Generation” interviews, and worked with another broadcasting legend, Don Imus, on his radio simulcasts at MSNBC.
“Replacing someone as talented as Todd McDermott isn’t easy, but I think viewers will find Joe to be warm and engaging and a good fit with co-anchor Jennifer Abney,” says Ray Carter, vice president and general manager of WPXI.
In addition to Abney, Arena will join traffic reporter Trisha Pittman and meteorologist Kevin Benson every weekday morning from 4:30 to 7. He will also co-anchor Channel 11 News at noon with veteran anchor Peggy Finnegan.
Morning anchors are sometimes the most difficult to find, Carter says.
“They need to have that combination of seriousness and stature, while at the same time, they need to be warm and approachable. No one wants to wake up to someone who never smiles. I think when you see Joe Arena, you’ll see the right combination. He’s a terrific communicator and, on the personal side, a well-grounded person,” he says.
“After meeting with Joe, I can tell he will be a tremendous addition,” says Mike Goldrick, news director. “He can’t wait to get started.”
Arena’s 15 years of experience include working in Shreveport, La., Washington, DC, and Bluefield, W.Va.
“It’s very refreshing moving to a city like Pittsburgh that is on the rise. My wife, Mary Claire, and I are very excited about it,” Arena says.
“We have a handful of friends and distant relatives all around the city. We are expecting our first baby in January, and it’s kind of good to know we won’t have any problem finding a baby sitter.”
The public already is familiar with the work of his father, Francesco Arena, an early “Marlboro Man” (“He was one of the guys on the horse in the national advertisements,” Arena says), and of his mother, Jean Arena, who created the “I’ve got a headache this big” advertisements for Excedrin.
McDermott, who has a political science degree from Canisius College, Buffalo, his hometown, will debut at his new station during WPBF’s live team coverage of the presidential debate at Lynn University on Oct. 22.
“I’ve had three great years at WPXI,” he says.”There are no memorable moments on the air that will equal just getting to know the incredible people of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. I’ve never lived in a better city with better, friendlier people. I’ll miss them very much.”
Rex Rutkoski, a staff writer for Trib Total Media, can be reached at 724-226-4664 or [email protected].