Robin Swoboda announces WKYC exit; WOIO/WUAB general manager retiring

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Two major figures in local broadcasting announced plans to move on Tuesday.

Longtime local TV anchor and personality Robin Swoboda said she will leave WKYC (Channel 3) when her contract is done at the end of February. And Bill Applegate, general manager of WOIO (Channel 19) and WUAB (Channel 43), has told staff he will retire in April.

In a Facebook post Swoboda said, “My last day at Channel 3 will be 2/28. It is my choice so it’s all good. Now I can go to high school football games, happy hours and Bible studies — not necessarily in that order.”

Swoboda has been co-anchoring WKYC’s newscast at 7 weeknights. The program, which at one point seemed to play to the conversational style that suited Swoboda best, underwent several changes in the broadcast team and tone during Swoboda’s run.

Brooke Spectorsky, general manager of WKYC, said that Swoboda will definitely end her run on the 7 p.m. news but held out hope that another role for Swoboda can be worked out at the Cleveland-based NBC affiliate.

“We love her and she’s quite a wonderful talent,” Spectorsky said. But he admitted that Swoboda has her own ideas when it comes to a career.

Swoboda joined WKYC in February 2011, one month after she left WJW (Channel 8), where she had hosted a morning show since 2007. That was her third stint at WJW, where she had become a local star.

She also worked at WEWS (Channel 5), where she hosted the long-running Morning Exchange for a year before its cancellation in 1999. There have also been stints in local radio and national television.

Applegate came to Cleveland in 2001 from a Memphis TV station owned by Raycom Media, which also owns WOIO and WUAB. He oversaw considerable changes at WOIO’s news operation, where a red-graphics-laden, unapologetically tabloid style yielded significant ratings success.

In a memo to staff, Applegate said he and his wife Kathy had bought a home in Fort Myers, Fla., about a year ago as he prepared to wind up his 45 years in broadcasting.

“My years spent at Raycom, particularly my 13 years as VP/GM of WOIO/WUAB, have been personally rewarding and the highlight of my career,” he said. “I am immensely proud of our management team at WOIO/WUAB and all of our colleagues here who have contributed to our great success. … I also want to sincerely thank the management team within Raycom for their support and guidance — it has meant a great deal to me both professionally and personally.”

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Twitter (@RHeldenfelsABJ) and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 and rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.


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