Saturday, July 22, 2006

Where are they now?

Today, we feature former WNEP anchorman Nolan Johannes.

Johannes didn't start in television's Stone Age, but you could say it was close enough. He started in the early 1960s as a reporter at WHEN-TV in Syracuse, New York, after graduating from college. After a few years, Johannes headed out towards Buffalo as a reporter/anchorman for WKBW, and also hosted "Dialing for Dollars."

He would make his final stop right here in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, joining WNEP in 1982. And after 14 years, Johannes decided to retire, and left WNEP in 1996.

Where is he now? OK, Johannes didn't really "leave." If you really love waking up EARLY to watch WNEP's Saturday morning newscasts, you can find him there doing a recap of the past week's top stories.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nolan is a true gentleman. To this day, you can count on him for a smile and a warm greeting every time you meet him. No towering anchorman ego. No agenda. No wonder the viewers have loved him all these years.

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At last. A news name with no controversy, a gentle man and a gentleman that I've never heard anyone say a word against.

Where have you gone, Nolan Johannes, our market turns its lonely eyes to you, oo-oo-ooooo.

It's nice to hear his rolling tones every weekend. Wish he had an heir in the market, or in any market.

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


All you need to know about NEPA television is that our pre-eminent anchor was nothing more than "D4D" host in Buffalo.

Rev. Shimkus carried the ball for him. Remember his story about dropping by the ND office to see Nolan's tape running. Frank gave us the cockamamie story about thinking it was a national feed, then saying how floored he was because it was a tape.

I'm sure Nolan's a good guy. He once got lured into a Ginger Lynn story in his weekly recap w/o knowing who she was. But he was a major product of the 16 pub machine.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nolan was a gem---No ego to feed---just a nice person. Still is!

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nolan, Keith Martin, Susan Houseman, Gary Essex, early Frank Andrews, Debbie D., John Glawe, Jay Kristopher, et al. These are the people that made it worth watching the news. I don't care if they were talking heads that read everything on the teleprompter ala "The Anchorman", they read it like they understood it and believed it. This is what's missing on the local front. I, a 43 year old white male, imho feel no connection with any of the local anchors.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

10:55 said: All you need to know about NEPA television is that our pre-eminent anchor was nothing more than "D4D" host in Buffalo.

And how did you start? Not at the top, I'm sure. Even Arnold Zenker did radio before his 13 days as anchor.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nolan is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, and he certainly doesn't deserve the cheap shots he's received here. He showed up every day, and he did his job. He didn't complain. He took an interest in the product. I'm proud to know him.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great guy, great anchor to my way of thinking. But I always did think it odd that he made the jump from D4D host to news anchor at a dominant #1.

Most all the anchors cited by 11:32 had one solid thing in common; they could work without a prompter. They knew the story, it was more than just words on a page.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Howard Beale said...

But I always did think it odd that he made the jump from D4D host to news anchor at a dominant #1.

To Johannes' credit, he had anchoring experience from WKBW, so it wasn't like Gene Rayburn was taking over Walter Cronkite's job. Besides, do you know what Gary Essex's job was before he anchored at WNEP? He was a weather forecaster (anyone remember where?).

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure. Gary Essex did the weather at WABC in New York.

And at WKBW Nolan was in line right behind Irv Weinstein (sp?) the most popular anchor in market history. When it became apparent he'd never get a real shot at a top anchor job in Buffalo, he "winged" it (get it?) to WNEP.

This market and all the people who ever had the chance to work with him are luckier for it.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nolan overrated? Hardly. Highly rated, yes! He never claimed to be a great journalist. Not on the day he was hired by Nick Lawler. Not on the day he retired, but he always worked at reporting and writing.

One thing Nolan didn't have to learn was how to relate to a tv audience. He is a genuine communicator. That's what so many of today's local anchors lack. Nolan is one of the best.

Gary Essex was hired by then News Director Elden Hale. Essex did weather at WABC in New York.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Essex was a VERY popular weathercaster on WABC-TV in NYC. He did their late show, Tex Antoine did the early. There are more than a few good stories about Antoine, google him if you have a moment. Personally, I once heard Antoine drop the F-Bomb on air, heard it plain as day. This was the early to mid-70s, and it's no stretch to say that what local television is today was being created and defined in those days by people like one Paul Stueber. And, yes, Paul worked at WABC-TV in the glory days...

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Essex at WNEP - Huge success
Essex at WYOU - No Comment

Andrews at WNEP - Huge success
Andrews at WYOU - No Comment

Conclusion - In most cases, the station is the star. Plus, I'm betting a lot of BB's visitors don't eve recall Essex at WYOU...

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering when someone would get around to mentioning Elden Hale. As News Director, Station Manager, then GM he is the one person most responsible for WNEP's news success.

How about a "Where Are They Now?" for Elden Hale?

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Criticizing Nolan for hosting "Dialing for Dollars" in Buffalo?

How about praising him instead.

Nolan goes back to the days when EVERYBODY who was on-air at a TV station did EVERYTHING. You learned every aspect of your craft while paying your dues every day. It made people like Nolan professional and unflappable. And WKBW in those days was a juggernaut.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets start a petition! Bring back Nolan and give the heave ho to Mike "I love myself,I look like I just got embalmed, not a hair out of place, big ego, making 6 figures a year, Lewis

11:05 AM  
Blogger Philly... said...

I'd love to hear more about Gary Essex at WYOU 9:23...I moved away from the market, still have family there--and never recall Gary at WYOU!! What year and for how long? And *why*??? Did he leave NEP on his own accord?

1:52 PM  
Anonymous hugh g rection said...

No disrespect intended at all...but why are we doing a "Where Are They Now" on Nolan Johannes? He never left the market...he's still on the air on a limited basis. It's not like he's retired or left the market.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really fuzzy on this one, but it seems that Essex left WNEP to work with some cable net out west, a start-up with big promise that didn't deliver. HQed in Denver maybe. Does that sound familiar? That fell flat and he ended up back at WYOU. Relying on fading memory again, but I think he was a Larry Stirewalt hire. Last I knew, Essex was a Methodist minister in the Blomsburg area. Any corrections to my info more than welcome...

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remember watching him anchor the 6:00 news with karen something or other - i can't remember her last name....they all cried when she left the news....what was her last name?

10:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Her last name was Harch and she was married or is married to the sport anchor who was there for a time and moved to Pittsburgh.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of Nolan's co-anchors was Karen Harch. She's worked as Karen Welles for years at WPXI in Pittsburgh.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't it Karen Harch? I think. She taught a TV journalism class I took at Wilkes. Word was she left when she married the red headded sports guy that went to Pittsburgh. Now, what was his name?

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karen Harch was her name. Lots of sad viewers when she left, same with Essex. WNEP never lost a beat, never lost so much as a share point. Why? Because WNEP's too smart to let an anchor's leaving harm them, and the other stations(and there were really two at the time)were too dumb to exploit the situation. A station is never more vulnerable than when it loses a key player, I've heard consultants say that again and again.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:13 asked "....what was her last name?"

I'll take Harch for $200, Alex.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Philly... said...

10:13 p.m.---you're thinking of Karen Harsch---and thanks for the fuzzy memory there 9:38...if anyone else has any recollections of Gary's departure from NEP to end up at YOU---"when", "why" and "for how long"...I'd love to hear about it. Thanks!

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gary Essex (real last name is Sprunger), 71, is a retired minister living in Michigan.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karen Harch married Alby Oxenreiter, after a, ahem, courtship, while the two worked at Dubya

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't remember Karen Harch's maiden name, but even "Harch" is a bit of a contraction. She was married to a guy named Harcharufka--although I'm not sure about the spelling.

She later married former WNEP sportscaster Alby Oxenreiter. They have two or three kids and both work at WPXI. But she does NOT go by the name "Karen Harcharufka Oxenreiter." CG operators are thankful.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Alby Alby Oxenreiter. Sounds like a game we played in grammar school during recess.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best this market has scene in my lifetime! No only was he a great anchor, but he's a much greater person. He's all about class. I remember when I broke into the business, Nolan went out of his was to introduce himself, and he offered advice on a regular basis. A true professional!

4:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D4D was the local Regis and Kathy before Regis and Kathy existed... Before GMA existed... They interacted with the home and studio audience... He was versatile...

No satellite or national feed to jump into... All locally hand crafted (as it were)... They had to work hard to keep it entertaining and informative...

I can't exactly recall the schedule, but it ran either against the Today Show, or immediately after...

11:13 PM  
Blogger John said...

Gary Essex had a female co-anchor by the name of Cheryl Toney. Later replaced (while on vacation) by Jacquelyn Bolden. She left 16 to work for an Orlando, Florida TV Station. Incidentally, viewers of that era might remember a reporter at 16 named Kathy Belish. She currently is a reporter for WFTV in Orlando, Florida. I was Assignment Editor at 16 during this period. jb

7:47 PM  

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