WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — They’re the people who appeared on our TV night after night.
They shared with us the critical things that affected our everyday life…and the surprises and the joys of living in the Ohio Valley.
To celebrate WTRF’s 70th year on the air, we’ve reached out to some of the brilliant journalists who passed through our newsroom and asked them about the little piece of Wheeling news they still carry with them today.
Starting with one you probably still see around town…Tate Blanchard.
A former 7News anchor and reporter, he says he wanted to be in broadcast his entire life…and felt like he had made it when he stepped through our doors.
He had the opportunity to cover crucial events in his four and a half years here, including the devastating 2017 floods…and says the memory still sticks with him.
“The story with Page Gellner when she and her boyfriend went missing from Elm Grove and covering that from beginning to end is something that I don’t think that I will ever forget. And my heart still goes out to her and her family every time that I think about that story.”Tate Blanchard, Former 7News anchor
Tate now works as Chief Development Officer for the IC group of companies, including IC Care and IC Cab…and emceeing many, many nonprofit events in the Ohio Valley.
Sara Yingling may live across the country now, but she tells us that WTRF was the launchpad for her career.
Working as our northern bureau reporter, she was in charge of finding the stories that mattered most to you in four different counties.
Beginning just out of college, she found herself reporting on the Steubenville rape trial as one of her first assignments and being interviewed on the case by national news networks.
“It really taught me that the best way to learn anything in life is by experiencing it. You can be taught this, that and the other in school or told things through peers, but until you actually experience it and go through it yourself, that’s the best way to learn something.”Sara Yingling, Former 7News reporter
Sara now works in the Dallas, Texas, area as communications director for an electric company and is considering opening her own PR firm.
Finally, we sat down with an anchor last seen at our desk only five years ago, who now works in one of America’s largest news markets.
Tessa DiTirro’s accomplished local news career has taken her to Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and now Cleveland, but she says she still misses the spirit of the Ohio Valley.
She fondly recalled what it was like learning her craft and navigating the roads in the Mountain State.
“I had never been in West Virginia before, so just learning the culture, I didn’t know what a steak fry was. I went to many when I was here…It was a new adventure every single day.”Tessa DiTirro, Former 7News anchor
Each had story after story to tell about how WTRF shaped them into the professionals they are now.
They say they’ll never forget their time bringing you the top stories of the day in Wheeling…or the experiences no other city can provide.
“I miss my National Road apartment and my DiCarlo’s pizza. And it was just the best place to start TV ever.”Tessa DiTirro, Former 7News anchor