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News director Steve Hyvonen leaves WXIX-TV

Steve Hyvonen starts March 25 at WFTV-TV in Orlando.
Courtesy Steve Hyvonen
Steve Hyvonen starts March 25 at WFTV-TV in Orlando.

The visionary executive who made Fox 19 News a major player in Cincinnati TV news is returning to Orlando.

WXIX-TV’s Steve Hyvonen, who expanded WXIX-TV’s news morning, noon and night, has left Fox 19 to be close to his two daughters and new grandson.

“I loved my time at Fox 19. I loved the people at Fox 19. What a talented group of people! But it’s the perfect time to return to Florida,” says the Indiana native who came to WXIX-TV in Sept. 2015 after seven years at WKMG-TV, the CBS affiliate in Orlando.

On March 25 he starts at WFTV-TV, Orlando’s top-rated ABC affiliate. He will be managing editor, the No. 2 person in the newsroom.

Under Hyvonen, Fox 19 aggressively added about 20 hours of weekly local news, from 55 to the current 74-1/2 hours. He expanded the city’s first 10 p.m. news to 11:35 p.m., going head-to-head with the legacy newscasts on Channels 5, 9 and 12.

Steve Hyvonen with his daughters Emma and Alissa.
Courtesy Steve Hyvonen
Steve Hyvonen with his daughters Emma and Alissa.

The 6:30 p.m. half-hour local newscast grew to four hours, from 3-7 p.m. He also added an 11 a.m. newscast, so Fox 19’s morning news footprint stretched from 4:30 a.m. to noon. And the Saturday morning newscast doubled in size to two hours.

Another Hyvonen legacy: He paired Rob Williams with Tricia Macke as primary news anchors in March 2016 to replace Scott Schneider. Williams had started his career co-anchoring mornings with Macke in 1998, and stayed on mornings when Macke moved to the night shift.

“It was a no brainer,” Hyvonen said at the time.

After graduating from Ball State University in 1990, Hyvonen produced newscasts for TV stations in Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale before being named assistant news director in Hartford, Conn. From there, he went to MSNBC as an executive producer for four years before news director jobs in Birmingham, Ala., Cleveland (WEWS-TV) and WKMG-TV Orlando.

“A little over a year ago my wife Sabrina and I targeted 2024 as the year we would return to Florida,” explains Hyvonen, 56. “When we left Orlando 8-1/2 years ago, we left our 19- and 21-year-old daughters there, Emma and Alissa. So we’re going back to Orlando to be with our daughters and 10-month-old grandson.” His wife’s parents also live in Florida.

Chief meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer credits Hyvonen with “making many changes to the Fox 19 Now news operation during his stay that greatly benefitted the news viewer and made our product much better.” Horstmeyer, who has been a TV meteorologist for channels 5, 12 and 19, said that Hyvonen’s “outstanding feature was his concern for his employee’s welfare in a fast, multiple, daily deadline business."

Macke says Hyvonen was her “seventh news director and my favorite” because of his flexibility to allow for family time.

“The news business is a tough struggle, to juggle your life and family time and go to your kids’ events,” says Macke, a long-time youth basketball coach in Northern Kentucky with adult children in multiple states. “He was always good with family time. He gets it. And now he’s going to Florida for the same reason.”

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.