Martha, My Dear

Can we get a little dishy? Is that, y’know, okay with you? You’re not gonna get all self-righteous and backboney on me, right?

Cause now that Orlando has had a few days to mourn the departure of Wendy Chioji, I think it’s time to address the future, and it is this:

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Of course, that writing’s been on the wall long before Chioji’s departure…and I know Wendy seems to be playing it all cool. But then there’s this, from the Sentinel:

Last year, Sugalski took Chioji’s high-profile spot on the 11 p.m. news. They have co-anchored at 4 p.m. weekdays, and Chioji has been solo at 6.

Friends say Chioji was dismayed at Sugalski’s increased visibility; Chioji would not comment. But viewers started weighing in on what they saw as a changing of the guard.

I think the most notable bit in there is of course not what is said, but what remains unsaid–I mean, if Chioji was all right with the Sugalski Shuffle, then why not just toss out even a weak quote to diffuse the situation? Instead, the “no comment” is basically a “that skank took my job” without saying “Oh, by the way, THAT SKANK TOOK MY JOB, and you can quote me on that.”

Then there’s that last sentence, which is a bit of an understatement. Anecdotally, I’ve heard plenty of locals complaining about Martha; the word “stripper” has been invoked, on more than one occasion.

If you need more concrete proof, take a gander at the Sentinel’s legendary Ticked Off section, where it seems as though there’s a pretty consistent stream of venting about Ms. Sugalski. Here’s a classic from April 1:

I don’t watch Channel 35 morning news any more. I can’t stand Heidi’s rat tail when she turns her head. The same goes for Channel 2’s Martha. They need to take a look at the great new hairdo Andrea Jackson has on the daily news.

“Rat tail”? No, tell us what you REALLY think.

What did Martha ever do to y’all? The business of TV news is cyclical, and if Wendy Chioji has managed to stay in the same market at the same station for 20 years, then good for her. She’s leaving now. It doesn’t make Sugalski the villain of the story; it just means time marches on, and people change. Would you prefer an empty chair, draped in black, reserved for the Spirit of Chioji in her absence? Maybe a nightly satellite link-up so she can give us updates on how great her bike shop is doing?

I’m taking a stand. I’m not native to Orlando; I just moved here two years ago, and so I hold no allegiance to Team Wendy. She seems to do a nice job, and she seems to be a nice enough person.

But I’ve always enjoyed rooting for the underdog, so my choice is clear. Mark my words, Orlandonians: From this moment forward, I’m on Team Martha.

2 Comments so far

  1. Terry Howard (orl_terry) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

    Hah, nice. Not too familiar with this drama unfolding before us, but it does make me feel nostalgic for some past local anchors. Who can forget the comforting drone and porn like name of Channel 13’s Rod Johnson!


  2. Matt (orl_matthew) on April 2nd, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

    Terry, that is freaky…there was a reporter when I lived in Chicago named Dick Johnson!



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