They may have left Buffalo, but many former local TV reporters also left a piece of their hearts here.
That was clear recently when they left their current stations in bigger markets to help stations here cover the racist mass shooting at the Tops supermarket on Jefferson Avenue.
The reporters who used to work here are an asset in covering one of the biggest stories in recent local history because they knew the area and some of the newsmakers before they moved to bigger markets.
In addition, some reporters with jobs in bigger TV markets who work for the same ownership groups that own Buffalo stations were sent here to assist with the coverage of the heartbreaking story.
Here is a partial list of the reporters who no longer are based here who have reported on the story or volunteered and what stations they now work for after leaving the Buffalo market.
Madison Carter, the former WKBW-TV (Channel 7) anchor-reporter, has been a significant part of WGRZ-TV’s (Channel 2) coverage. She assisted Channel 2 rather than her former Buffalo station because she now works for a station in Atlanta, 11 Alive, that has the same owner, Tegna, as Channel 2. Atlanta is the No. 6 market in the country, a big step up from Buffalo, which is No. 53.
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Once she returned to Atlanta, Carter tweeted: “Thanks for letting me come home and be with you all for a few days. Wish I could do more. As always, my heart remains in (Buffalo emoji.)”
Karys Belger, a former WGRZ reporter, also is helping her former station on the story. She also now works for 11 Alive in Atlanta. Upon leaving Buffalo, she tweeted: “I love you Buffalo. You are truly unique. I hate that this tragedy is what brought me back. I also hate that I’m leaving feeling like I could have done more. A piece of my heart will always belong to the 716.”
In an email to questions from this reporter, Belger added: “I spent three years of my life in Buffalo. While some of my time was challenging, I truly loved being there and the way people embraced me.”
She was at her Atlanta station when she received notifications on her phone about the shooting and reached out to people to find out if they were OK.
“If my (Atlanta) news director hadn’t asked me if I wanted to come back, I would have gone into her office and demanded she send me,” Belger wrote.
When asked, she immediately answered, “Yes! Absolutely.”
She hasn’t processed yet how covering the story has affected her.
“I’ll be honest, I was on autopilot for most of it,” she wrote. “From the day I landed until the Sunday I left I was kind of going through the motions. There were moments when I could take it all in. I would speak with people, some who knew me from my time in Buffalo and others who did not. There was this understanding that I couldn’t quite describe. However, it was there and it kept me going. I can’t fully describe right now how it affected me because I’m still processing it. It might be a month or two or five before I can fully answer that question. I just hope that I was able to do a little good.”
Nikki DeMentri, who left WKBW-TV (Channel 7) for a bigger market, has been a big part of her former station’s coverage. She now works for WRTV, an Indianapolis station that is in the No. 25 market in the country. Like WKBW, WRTV is owned by the EW Scripps Company, which uses Channel 7 as a training ground for reporters like DeMentri before they are ready to move on to bigger markets. Upon arriving here with a photographer, DeMentri tweeted: “Buffalo, we love you. You hold such a special place in my heart.”
John Kosch: The former WKBW reporter was at that station for the first weekend’s coverage of the shooting. He is now a reporter at WEWS in Cleveland, the nation’s No. 19 TV market in the country. He tweeted: “Our heart aches for Buffalo, a city that those who know Stacey (his wife of him) and I know shares a special place in our life.” Then he shared a sweet Op-Ed he wrote about living in Buffalo for three years that this newspaper ran when he left 20 years ago.
Jamie Hoskin, a former WIVB-TV (Channel 4) producer, came here last week to volunteer, not to work. She is now a producer at Fox 5, WTTG, in Washington, DC, which is the No. 7 market in the country. She tweeted a few days ago: “I spoke to so many kind people. I will never forget them or the conversations I had with them. But that support and sense of community cannot end. Racism has no place in this country and there is so much work that still needs to be done.”
WIVB (Channel 4) also might have confused some viewers by suggesting that a couple of strong reporters from other Nexstar stations were based in Buffalo instead of just being brought here last weekend to help with the coverage.
Jamie DeLine is headquartered at WTEN, News 10 in Albany. Like WIVB, the Albany station is owned by Nexstar. She is the New York State Capital Bureau reporter for the Nexstar group.
Reshad Hudson, another Nexstar employee assisting WIVB’s coverage, is a Washington, DC, correspondent for Nexstar.
inquiring minds want to know: Where is WGRZ reporter Leanne Stuck? She left the station a few months ago. Just this week, a podcast, “Unsolved: True Crime in WNY,” by Stuck and another WGRZ staffer, Amanda Berg, was nominated for a regional Edward R. Murrow award.
What’s in a name?: To those asking why the WIVB news director fired last week was named Lisa Polizzi in the story about her departure rather than the name she used for most of her five years in the position, Lisa Polster, the answer is simple. Polizzi, who is divorced, told me recently she preferred now to be called by her maiden name de ella.