Wilma Smith (newscaster)
July 24, 1946
Garfield Heights, Ohio, U.S.
|Education||Bowling Green State University, 1968, B.A. (Speech, English), 1972, M.A. (Journalism)|
|Occupation||Television news anchor|
|Known for||Longtime TV news anchor/reporter in Cleveland, OH market|
|Spouse(s)||Tom Gerber. ?-present|
Wilma Smith (born July 24, 1946) was an American local television news anchor from 1977 to 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. She was with Fox affiliate WJW-TV from 1994 to 2013, following 17 years at ABC affiliate WEWS-TV.
Early life and education
Born Wilma Pokorny, Smith was born and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Garfield Heights. She graduated from Garfield Heights High School in 1964 and then earned a bachelor's degree in speech and English from Bowling Green State University. She also holds a master's degree in broadcast journalism.
Smith began her broadcasting career in 1972 at ABC affiliate WXEX, Channel 8, in Richmond, Virginia. She was the host and producer of a daily one-hour talk show and anchored the 6 p.m. weekday newscasts, which made her the state's first primetime female anchor.
Her broadcasting career in Cleveland started at ABC affiliate WEWS, Channel 5, on July 17, 1977, when she became co-host of Afternoon Exchange, and early evening news/interview program. She co-hosted the news program Live On 5 beginning in 1982 and the following year began co-anchoring the 11 p.m. newscast with longtime anchor Ted Henry. Her final on-air appearance at the station was in December 1993.
After completing a contractual no-compete waiting period, Smith joined Cleveland's WJW, Channel 8, in 1994. The move occurred around the time that the station was switching from being a CBS affiliate to Fox. From 1995 to 2005, Smith was the co-anchor of the 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m. newscasts with longtime anchor Tim Taylor. In 2005, Smith and Taylor reduced their schedules to anchoring only the 6 p.m. newscast. In December that year, Taylor retired and since then Smith has been anchoring the newscast with Lou Maglio. Their newscast is number one in the local ratings.
On March 18, 2013, Smith announced that she would retire from her 41-year broadcasting career two months later. She said, "It’s a lovely gift to be able to leave on your own terms" and "It’s been a wonderful career". Her last day was May 22, 2013.
Awards and honors
Smith has won 10 Emmy Awards. In various polls, she won several titles such as "Cleveland’s Most Watchable Woman", "Best Anchorperson in Cleveland", "Anchor of Excellence", "Newscaster of the Year", and "Best Anchorperson". Smith appeared on the cover of Cleveland Magazine five times. She has interviewed four presidents. She was also named "Cleveland’s Citizen of the Year for Community Service and Contribution to the Arts". Smith was inducted into Ohio's Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1993.
On May 14, 2013, Garfield Heights, Ohio, Smith's hometown honored her with a proclamation from the Garfield Heights City Council and Mayor's office. There is talk in Garfield Heights of honor naming Plymouth Avenue as Wilma Smith Way, nothing is set in stone. Plymouth Avenue is where Wilma Smith lived.
- Loreno, Darcie (March 18, 2013). "Wilma Smith’s Big Announcement!". Fox 8 Cleveland.
- Dawidziak, Mark (March 18, 2013). "Wilma Smith announced she is retiring, ending her 35-year Cleveland broadcast career". The Plain Dealer.
- "Wilma Smith". The Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- Dabrowski, Jessica (May 22, 2013). "Wilma Smith's Final Thoughts". Fox 8 Cleveland. Retrieved May 23, 2013.
- Dawidziak, Mark (May 22, 2013). "Wilma Smith Bids Viewers Goodbye with Emotional Final Newscast". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
- "Inductees by induction year". The Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 18, 2013.