Local ABC affiliate KITV announced this afternoon that newcomer Amber-Lynn Hyden would take over morning weather anchor duties. But for all the glowing praise KITV News Director Tod Pritchard heaped upon the former flight attendant, not a word was said about her predecessor: veteran morning weather anchor Ben Gutierrez.
Presumably, fresh-faced Hyden is a considerably less expensive resource than the experienced Gutierrez. But in saving money, KITV is losing quite a bit.
As a periodic “LOST” commentator for the station, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know the KITV morning team pretty well. And I’ve always been immensely impressed with Ben’s work.
You hear everyone talk about “up to the minute forecasts,” but Ben was the real deal. Studying data right up until his segment, then coming into the studio and working that bluescreen like a pro — usually without notes or prompts, yet smooth and silk all the way through. He seemed to never miss his mark or miss a cue, and was always ready with facts and figures and a clever retort when necessary.
And for all his natural talent with the weather, he frequently showed his extensive journalism chops with news and feature stories. Not surprising for a former news director and talk show host.
Frankly, in terms of experience, qualifications, and genuine passion for weather reporting, I thought KITV had the deepest resources of any local news outlet. Combined with evening weather anchor Justin Fujioka, Ben made the station a force to be reckoned with.
I do know that Ben had many other interests, among them music and other artistic pursuits, so I hope this change creates more opportunities for him with things he loves. I also hope he gets a more fitting sendoff than one hidden between the lines of a press release.