Winkie to Leave WVIR

WVIR veteran Robert Van Winkle will be leaving WVIR (and the area) on the 15th, according to Bob Gibson in today’s Progress. Van Winkle’s long time position as weatherman has made him well-known, but his hundreds of appearances at public events made him the face of NBC 29 for much of the community. Charlottesville being a small market, it’s difficult for a station like WVIR to retain talent for long, so a recognizable face is a rarity. Van Winkle intends to move up to a bigger market, but declined to provide further details. WVIR has not yet publicly announced Van Winkle’s departure.

14 Responses to “Winkie to Leave WVIR”


  • The day I found out Robert Van Winkle was the real name of Vanilla Ice was the day I laughed uncontrollable.

  • Wow. Oh my sweet holy lord, that’s funny.

  • I thought for sure Robert would dress up as Vanilla Ice as a joke.

  • Todd Hawkins, he was funny as hell. I remember when it would be a slow day he would just have a highlight of a squiral waterskiing. I couldn’t stop laughing when he did the weather.

  • I’m sorry… but wasn’t Todd Hawkins a sportscaster? He didn’t do weather…

  • Actually you are right (for once :P) but one April Fools Day Robert and Todd switch places. We were rolling that night.

  • He seemed like he was going to stay at 29 for the rest of his career. They’ve had him doing weather for one newscast a day for years, so it seems like he had it his way over there in terms of doing what he wanted. I would of expected if he was going to find a better job, he would have left years ago like all the other transient TV news people. I wonder if Dave Cupp will stick around now….

  • There was a flap here over WVIR’s failure to warn us of impending tornadoes–twice. The first time they ran Wheel of Fortune and every so often a blink-and-you-miss it tornado alert banner at the bottom of the screen, while a tornado ripped up trees outside of Free Union and tore a fifty yard swath in on the hillsides as it bore down on Charlottesville. The second time I think WVIR ran a soap opera while a funnel cloud passed right over us, but luckily did not touch down. (The most recent tornado, I should note, WVIR did a better of telling us).

    People were talking about petitioning the FCC to deny WVIR’s broadcast license renewal. I wonder if Van Twinkle’s departure is related to an upcoming FCC license review?

  • I doubt that Robert would be held responsible for either of those lapses. Whoever was sitting in the control room dropped the ball, not him. He may not have been there either time, but somebody had to be watching the board, and that person surely would have been charged with handling any emergencies that would come up. The EAS alert should have been broadcast, as it was on the radio. That wasn’t Van Winkle’s ball to drop.

    I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine him saying "nah, no need to break in – it’s just a little tornado. Run a banner on the bottom of the screen." I can, however, imagine him demanding a break-in, and getting it, if he were there. I can also imagine general manager Harold Wrong being concerned about missing a local ad break during Wheel.

    No falling on the sword here. Robert is leaving town with a very clear conscience.

  • Rob most likely is getting a richer fatter deal somewhere else. Who can blame him. Cville is a small fries. I bet Robert’s motives are to better himself.

  • Personally, I like Robert. He has a good heart and a cheerful personality. Still–

    Last year when WVIR failed to tell us about an impending tornado I sent an open letter to WVIR (also published here) asking what remedial measures the station was taking to make sure it never happened again.

    I got no response.

    Now Robert–having privately given people his personal assurance he would do something–is leaving. Sounds like WVIR expects to get by with business as usual. Well I am going to make sure they change how they do business.

    I just e-mailed a complaint letter to the FCC, including transcripts from this website, detailing how WVIR failed to live up to its responsibility to keep the public informed in an emergency. Twice.

    I am asking the FCC to get a formal, written, public declaration from WVIR of what steps they will take to address the problem. And if they fail to satisfy the FCC that the steps are sufficient, I am asking that their license renewal be denied.

  • Actually, John DeMorro was the weatherman on duty, so to speak, on one night in question. But he was out at dinner for a couple hours and missed the whole thing. Of course, during one big storm, John was at home watching the Daytona 500 (during sweeps). John has since been PROMOTED to "Weather Office Manager", whatever that means.

    Look for the mass exodus to continue at WVIR: Linda Thomas’ last day is Aug. 29th, Bill Duvall is not re-signing his contract, Steve Trout isn’t re-signing either and is month-to-month, as is Ranji Sinha. Adam Longo won’t be re-signing his contract when it runs out in October.

    I don’t think Robert left because he was in trouble. I think he just got tired of all the BS. Don’t look for Dave Cupp to leave. He’s too busy burying his head in the sand at the discrimination in the newsroom to leave.

    John DeMorro is a brown-noser. Scott Gibson (the Chief Photog) follows John around like a lovesick schoolboy and while John may complain about needing his space (to others, not Scott aka Vger), he has absolutely no problem taking advantage of their friendship by getting time off or taking 2-3 hr. lunches.

    Now that Brooke Baldwin has left, I would imagine Scott is trying to find another female at the station to hit on.

    Another person who gets whatever they want is Brigida Mack. She got the weekend morning anchor job after only a couple months, although others had been with the station longer. She’s another one who can have whatever time off she wants, whether it’s during sweeps or on a weekend or whenever. There is racial discrimination going on at NBC29, but the African-Americans are the ones doing the discriminating.

  • Measures were taken to rectify that problem. I’m not surprised that no one from the station had the cajones to talk to you. They shy away from confrontations.

  • The funniest thing about the whole story is that 29 got scooped by the Progress! BWA-HA-HA-HA!

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