Alyssa Rae has a new job in a different state, but area viewers will still be able to catch her on TV in the fall.
Rae, a Hidden Valley High School and Virginia Tech graduate, left WSLS (Channel 10) at the end of May after serving as the station’s weekend sports anchor since 2015.
She started work in North Carolina last month as a sports anchor and sports reporter at WNCN-TV, the CBS affiliate in Raleigh.
“I wanted to cover some professional teams, so having the [NHL’s] Hurricanes in town was amazing,” Rae said.
But Rae won’t be appearing only on WNCN.
The Nexstar-owned station also produces a weekly Carolina Panthers show, and Rae will be the co-host. The half-hour show will not only air on WNCN but on other Nexstar stations in the region as well, including WWCW (CW5) in Roanoke.
“That really drew me [to WNCN] so I could cover the NFL because I love football, love professional football,” Rae said. “And it’s [on in] seven markets, so to be able to get that kind of exposure, that’s bigger than just a local market broadcast.
“And I like the Carolina Panthers, so … to be able to cover them professionally was pretty much a dream come true.”
“Black and Blue Huddle” will air Saturdays at noon on WWCW, beginning Sept. 7. Rae’s show will be one of two weekly Panthers shows on WWCW, in addition to the Panthers-produced “Panthers Huddle.”
Rae will get to cover all of the Panthers’ home games for WNCN.
Rae’s father and brother are moving from Southwest Virginia, so Rae decided to leave WSLS when her contract expired at the end of May. She said it was a “scary decision,” but she was confident she would be able to eventually find a new job in a bigger TV market.
She has moved up from the No. 68 market in the country to the No. 25 market.
But Rae will miss WSLS and its sports director, John Appicello.
“I got to cover my alma mater. I got to learn under him and work with some of the best people,” she said. “I will always be a WSLS fan.”
Rae will still be covering the ACC at her new station because there are three ACC schools in the Raleigh-Durham market. In fact, her first assignment for her new station was ACC football media days in Charlotte last month.
Promotion for Romano
WDBJ (Channel 7) promoted Anthony Romano to weekend sports anchor last month. He will also be a weekday sports reporter.
Romano, 23, had been a news reporter for WDBJ since May 2018. Romano, who was based out of the station’s New River Valley bureau, also sometimes served as a sports reporter.
He succeeds Victoria Wood, who left the station in June for a non-TV job.
“Once the sports job opened up, it was something that I knew I had to go for,” Romano said. “Sports has always been a passion of mine.”
Romano is from Massapequa, New York — the same part of Long Island where Alec Baldwin and Jerry Seinfeld grew up.
“I never have lived in the mountains before, so [Southwest Virginia] is totally different, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” Romano said. “Most of my family lives in New York still, so I go back every few months. … Driving across the Verrazzano [Bridge] and you see the skyline of New York City, it’s almost like a different world.”
He graduated from the University of Missouri last year. While attending that school, he worked for KOMU-TV, a university-owned station that is the NBC affiliate in the Columbia, Missouri, market.
“For my reporting classes, you would produce content for the evening news at the local NBC station, so it was really cool experience that I was getting,” he said. “I would produce sports out there, I would anchor on the weekends. … That’s part of the reason I was even in the running for this position out here.”
Waddell exits WFXR
Samantha Waddell, who has been a sports anchor and sports reporter at WFXR since 2017, has left the Fox affiliate.
“There’s a lot of great, historic moments that I covered in sports, but it’s really the people that have really meant the most to me as I look back over the two years,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without my phenomenal coworkers, … but it’s a lot about the coaches and the players and the organizations that I worked with over the last two years. Probably the thing I’m most proud of is the relationships I’ve built with those people.”
Waddell, whose contract ended at the end of last month, is looking for a new TV job.
“I’m really excited about what comes next,” she said.
New radio affiliates
The radio networks of Virginia Tech and Virginia have new Roanoke affiliates.
Tech football and men’s basketball games will now air in Roanoke on WFIR-AM 960, as well as on sister stations 107.3 FM in Roanoke and 94.5 FM in Troutville.
In recent years, Tech football games had been on WSNV-FM 93.5 in Roanoke, while the men’s basketball games were on WJJS-FM 96.9 in Roanoke.
Tech play-by-play announcer Jon Laaser said the network wanted to get both teams on the same station. So when Tech’s contract with the parent company of WSNV and WJJS ended, the network turned to WFIR owner Leonard Wheeler.
“We’re pretty excited,” Laaser said. “It gives us a lot better market coverage.”
“Tech … [is] a strong franchise to carry in this area,” said Wheeler, who had already been carrying the Hokies on one of his Lynchburg stations.
WFIR had been airing UVa football and men’s basketball games. So Wheeler is moving the Cavaliers’ games to one of his other stations, WVBB-FM 97.7 in Roanoke (“The Vibe”).
While all UVa games will be on WVBB, the Cavs’ games will still air on WFIR whenever there is no conflict with the Hokies.
WFIR will air both “Tech Talk Live” on Monday nights and UVa’s “Coach’s Corner” on Tuesday nights.