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Courtis Fuller returns to WLW-TV

Courtis Fuller anchoring WLWT-TV's 11 p.m. newscast Saturday April 1.
Screen shot by John Kiesewetter
Courtis Fuller anchoring WLWT-TV's 11 p.m. newscast Saturday April 1.

Longtime anchor resumes weekend newscasts after January surgery to remove a malignant tumor at the base of his skull.

Veteran anchor Courtis Fuller returned this weekend to anchor WLWT-TV newscasts after nearly a four-month medical leave for cancer surgery.

"It's great to be back. It felt strange being off the air this long. All the folks at WLWT and Hearst have been very supportive as I recovered from surgery in January," said Fuller Sunday, as he was preparing to anchor the Sunday evening news.

In December doctors discovered a large mass in the base of Fuller's skull. It was a rare malignant chordoma tumor, which the National Cancer Institute calls a "slow growing cancer of tissues found inside the spine." That's why he couldn't host local Martin Luther King Day events in January for the first time in 30 years.

"I thank God the surgery was successful to remove the tumor. I'm still facing a battery of tests and treatments – but overall I feel great. I am grateful to everyone for their prayers and kindness over the past few months," Fuller told me.

Fuller co-anchored the 6, 10 and 11 p.m. news Saturday with Jatara McGee, meteorologist Adam Burniston and sports reporter Olivia Ray. Before going to work, Fuller posted on Facebook Saturday that it was "time to get back to what I’ve been doing for the past 43 years. Many thanks for thee prayers and acts of kindness over the past few months while I was on medical leave. I am humbled and blessed. The support from my WLWT family has been wonderful."

Courtis Fuller with George Vogel at WLW-TV Friday, when Vogel retired as station sports director.
Courtesy Courtis Fuller
Courtis Fuller with George Vogel at WLW-TV Friday, when Vogel retired as station sports director.

Fuller, who left Channel 5's airwaves before Christmas, actually returned to the newsroom Friday for sports director George Vogel's retirement party.

"Glad I was able to make it back to the station to share your final day," Fuller wrote on Facebook Friday. Fuller noted that he had "worked with George Vogel for 35 of his 41 years at WLWT ... Hard to believe he’s calling it quits. His work in this business is as good as it gets. George is like a sports encyclopedia. Best wishes my friend on your retirement."

On Sunday, Fuller welcomed new weekend co-anchor Lindsay Stone,a Monroe High School graduate.

"As you know, this is a homecoming of sorts for Lindsay who recently worked in Indianapolis but grew up here in Greater Cincinnati. She will be a great addition to our talented news staff at Channel 5," Fuller says.

Fuller, one of the most visible faces at the annual King Day events, was honored in 2015 by organizers of the annual King Legacy Awards Breakfast at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

The Pittsburgh native has spent most of his career in Cincinnati. On his 30th anniversary in broadcasting in 2014, Courtis and his wife Marla established the Courtis Fuller Journalism Scholarship at the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation for student pursing a degree in journalism.

Fullerleft the TV station in 2001 to run for mayor as a member of the Charter Party. After winning the primary, he lost the general election to incumbent Charlie Luken, another former Channel 5 anchor. Fuller hosted a radio talk show before returning to WLWT-TV in 2003.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.