The Heather Kovar situation that nobody wants to talk about.

Let’s start with a disclaimer. I haven’t watched WRGB news in a very long time – ever since they were acquired by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, and their on-air news reads became word-for-word recitations of Sinclair’s ultra-conservative mantra. To put this in perspective, I blogged about why I will not willingly watch WRGB news in this blog post from four years ago.

Now that being said, I understand that Heather Kovar was one of WRGB’s popular anchorpeople. She had what every newsreader has – good diction, likeability, and a decent knowledge of the local area and the important stories surrounding the Capital Region.

And unfortunately, all that went down the drain in a Saturday news broadcast.

This broadcast.

The thing is, I really wanted to find a Heather Kovar broadcast that didn’t take place last Saturday. Something that didn’t show her at her worst moment.

Unfortunately, the predictive YouTube text seemed to only direct Heather Kovar this way. Ugh.

And suddenly Heather Kovar becomes a national punchline.

Which never should have happened. She shouldn’t have her entire broadcast career be encapsulated into the same boat as the “Boom Goes the Dynamite” guy and the passive-aggressive KYW Philadelphia morning host who traded verbal barbs with one of her co-workers.

And after Heather Kovar’s ill-fated broadcast, every home-schooled YouTube detective is now trying to figure out what happened and who’s to blame. Was Heather Kovar drunk? Was she suffering a stroke or a seizure? Was she exhausted? Why didn’t WRGB have a backup plan for something like this? Was there no one in the studio that weekend to cover in an emergency? Or was this a carefully orchestrated plan to leave Heather Kovar out to dry so that any future job opportunities would be microscopic at best?

Let’s start with a few things here. What we see from our living rooms is only a tiny part of what a news anchor does. They’re not just sitting there reading the teleprompter. They have to prepare the scripts. They have to make sure every news story flows to an exact time limit, and also take care of any mandatory read-through items. And they have to prepare for that breaking news item that, within five minutes of the newscast commencement, throw the entire script out of whack. They need to ensure that there’s 3 1/2 minutes for local and national sports. And they need to confirm enough time for the weather report. And then do it all over again 30 minutes later, with the news sounding fresh and not a repeat of the previous 30-minute broadcast.

And they need to look immaculate. Hair on point. Makeup on point. Clothing on point. Jewelry on point. That’s a tremendous amount of pressure. And add to that a litany of Twitter shitposters who will immediately point out that someone wore the same blouse three weeks ago, as if that was a crime against fashion, while another set of Twitter shitposters compose their own sick online fantasy of whether this newscaster is more bonkable than the one on the other channel.

And Heather Kovar already had enough stress on her. Her father recently passed away. And she already had an extended break from WRGB to take care of family business in her hometown. And she was working on a double-shift – reading the morning news, coming back for the 6:00 news, and then the 11:00 news that same day. That’s a lot of man-hours with very little time for rest or recharge.

That being said, if she was not able to do her broadcast that evening, there should have been an emergency backup plan. WRGB should have been in close communication with Heather Kovar. There’s no shame in saying, “Hey, you’re not in a good place tonight, Heather, let’s have someone else take a turn behind the podium, come back when things are better.” And by the same token, there’s no shame in saying to WRGB, “Hey, I’m really still going through some things, can we get a sub for today?”

What I’m saying is that for those who are looking to blame Heather Kovar for the broadcast, or to blame WRGB or Sinclair for allowing it to happen … the biggest problem in all of this is that there may not have been communication. Or at least comfortable communication.

See, this kind of “leave them hang to dry” moment happened before. And it happened on the national news, to one of the brightest stars in 1980’s broadcast journalism, Jessica Savitch. For on that night, whatever happened to her – a medicine mixup, an extra adult beverage, an emotional breakdown – we’ll really never know. But again, we have more armchair pundits who probably couldn’t even spell Teleprompter, let alone read from one, who think they’re the smartest people in the room.

So here’s the thing. Whatever happened to Heather Kovar on that July 9th evening, she’ll rebound. Newscasters always do. And wherever she goes from here, whether it’s on another TV station in the area or in another market, hopefully wherever she travels, she will find a station where communication between its higher-ups and its on-air talent is more fluid.

And maybe if that happens, we’ll remember Heather Kovar for news reports that look like this.

Because through all this, Heather Kovar has had many people speak in her defense and in her support.

None of them, however, seem to come from her co-workers at WRGB.


And this is the part of my blog that addresses my blog headline.

All these images of Heather Kovar from the July 9th broadcast are WRGB’s property. They could put a copyright claim on every single one of them and have them yanked off YouTube in a matter of seconds. They could say, “Heather Kovar had a bad moment, let’s not make it worse.”

Why haven’t they? They have every right to hit the 500 or so YouTube rebroadcasts with DCMA takedown claims. In other words, they could cut Heather Kovar some slack and give her a bit of a respite.

Surprisingly … that just hasn’t happened.

As I said before, we’ve all had bad days. I’ve had them. You’ve had them. In that instance, it would be nice to have some sort of support from your co-workers.

But I guess that’s the media grinder in Smallbany for you.


UPDATE 7/16/22 – I was contacted by Craig Adams of WRGB, as he noted that he too spoke up in defense of Heather Kovar. I initially didn’t see his comment on my blog, in that for some reason his post ended up in my spam filter. But in the interest of fairness, I have posted his Twitter comment about Heather Kovar below.