|DAVID HECKARD and WHITNEY RAY|
As I told you a couple of weeks ago, both David Heckard and Whitney Ray will soon be leaving the Eyewitness News team. Heckard is taking a job with NBC affiliate WBBH and ABC station WZVN in Ft. Myers, Fla., while Ray plans to become a stay-at-home wife and mother.
I had the chance to sit down with both David and Whitney in the studio at WEHT/WTVW this afternoon to talk about their upcoming departures.
As it turns out, and several readers have asked about this: The timing of their exits from the station is purely coincidental; neither Heckard nor Ray knew the other was planning to leave. "You shocked me," Ray told Heckard. "I had no idea."
Heckard, whose final forecast here in the Tri-State is scheduled for Sunday night's 10 p.m. newscast on WEHT Local, told me he is looking forward to the challenge of Florida weather, but will miss being here. "The biggest thing for me is this is home," he said. "I interned here, so this is truly home. I will miss the fact that Mom and Dad are just an hour away, Wayne and Ron have been great to work with."
At his new place of business, Heckard, who will produce the weather during the week and be on-air for WZVN on weekend evenings once he starts his new job July 29, won't have to deal with tornado outbreaks, ice storms and snow, but Florida is, of course, known for something else: Hurricanes. And if you're annoyed when there's wall-to-wall coverage here of severe weather, in the Sunshine State, he tells me they go wall-to-wall for several days during those events.
"They are very serious about weather," Heckard said. "It will be significantly different."
For her part, Ray, who will leave Aug. 9, says she is excited to spend more time with her husband, John, and their nearly two-year-old son, Wyatt. "It's a great time to work here, but at the same time, there's a bigger calling in my life," she explained. "He [Wyatt] deserves more time with me, I want more time with him, and this is a time in my life I can't get back."
Both agreed that Eyewitness News has been a great place to work, and they credited station management and the talent that GM Arika Zink and news director Bob Freeman have put together with making it that way. "It's difficult to walk away from a job you love," Ray said. "I've been treated pretty well here," Heckard concurred.