Why did WLWT-TV hire Seton High School graduate Alanna Martella to replace traffic reporter Vanessa Richardson after only two years?
Because Richardson is leaving to pursue her passion, becoming a TV sports reporter at Houston's KPRC-TV.
"It's never been a secret I had an interest in sports," she says.
The Indiana native sometimes worked a split shift on Friday nights at Channel 5 to cover high school football, and volunteered for assignments covering Opening Day, Kentucky Speedway races and the Kentucky Derby. She also hosted activities during Xavier University basketball games at the Cintas Center, as she had done for the Indiana Pacers while attending the University of Indianapolis.
"I felt I really grew a lot as a reporter here," says Richardson, who started at Channel 5 two months after graduating from college. "I wouldn't have this opportunity if George Vogel hadn't let me cover Friday high school football, and my bosses let me do sports stories. I'm thrilled, and it definitely wouldn't be happening without my experience at WLWT-TV."
She grew up in Terra Haute watching sports on TV with her father, who has been in a wheelchair due to multiple sclerosis since she was 2. One of her proudest moments is doing a story about the late Joe Nuxhall, and the Nuxhall Foundation's efforts to build a wheelchair-accessible miniature golf course at the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League fields in Fairfield, she says.
Richardson's last day is Friday, July 26. Martella starts on WLWT News 5 Today in early August.
Martella also comes to Channel 5 from Indianapolis, where she has been the traffic anchor and reporter for two years at Scripps' WRTV-TV (Channel 6). She graduated from Ohio University in 2014 with a broadcast journalism degree, with specializations in political science and theater.
"We're pleased to bring Alanna back to her hometown," said news director Jeff Benscoter in the station's announcement. "Being raised in Cincinnati, she is very familiar with the roads and highways, the bottlenecks, and all the ways to get around the trouble spots every morning."
"Wanting to do news in my hometown has been my goal ever since I grew up here, and I can't wait to return to Cincinnati," Martella said in the announcement.
Richardson's departure means half of the WLWT News 5 Today cast has changed in two months. Kelly Rippin joined co-host Colin Mayfield and meteorologist Randi Rico in June. Rippin replaced Lisa Cooney, who retired in April after 30 years at the station.