Friday, June 03, 2016

Deborah Wrigley exits KTRK abc13

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 06, 2016
Deborah Wrigley returns to KTRK abc13


Former bosses praise longtime channel 13 reporter Deborah Wrigley as she leaves the station

 photo deborahwrigley_zpskeeu2202.jpg
McGuff with Wayne Dolcefino & Deborah Wrigley (2015)

Longtime KTRK abc13 reporter Deborah Wrigley is no longer with the Disney/ABC Television Group station.

"We are disappointed she turned down our offer to maintain a relationship with us," KTRK VP of Creative Services David Lee told mikemcguff.com. "We wish her the very best and appreciate her years of service."

Thursday, Wrigley's bio was removed from the station's website. There has been no mention of any departure on her social media accounts.

After 37 years or so, you can call Wrigley two things, an amazing writer and survivor. Let's focus on the latter for a moment. She is the last standing reporter from when she started (this is excluding anchors). Can you imagine all of the big stories in that time she has covered?

"Every major city has that one person who is a great writer, knows the city inside and out and can turn stories that are compelling, hard hitting or will put a tear in your eye," former KTRK news director Dave Strickland told mikemcguff.com. "Deborah is that journalist and Houston is a lessor place without her on our streets reporting."

As far as reporting, Wrigley knows her storytelling. She understands how to get to the heart of a story.

TV staffers will understand this aspect about her writing. If you look at one of her scripts, it would not naturally be cut and pasted over to a web story. She knows how to write specifically for TV in a simple and clear way so it has natural flow for the TV audience. I think this is a style that has been lost over the years.

"She is one of the best news writers in the business," former KTRK assistant news director Don Kobos told mikemcguff.com. "There isn't a story in Houston that she hasn't covered and covered well. Deborah's departure negatively impacts KTRK."

And don't get me started on her institutional knowledge of Houston. Tie Wrigley's historical perspective with her love of history and you get one compelling story. I'd day almost untouchable in this aspect.

If you are talking about Wrigley, then you have to mention animals. Her love for our four-legged friends is so well known. Any KTRK producer or assignments editor knows to automatically assign Wrigley to animal stories because her passion will show through.

Where does her flair for reporting come from? It actually doesn't come from a journalism degree, but a University of Houston English degree and maybe even from Hollywood of all places.

Deborah's father, Dewey Wrigley, did visual effects and cinematography for the likes of Cecil B. Demille. He was under contract with Paramount his daughter once wrote.

Naturally, Wrigley had a following with the Houston television viewing audience. I have two personal experiences with this.

One time while working at channel 13, I was sent to interview a couple in Pasadena for a consumer segment. When we wrapped up the questions, all they wanted to talk with me about was Deborah Wrigley. She had apparently interviewed them many years before our meeting that day and they loved and followed her ever since. If I remember correctly, the couple had fled their burning apartment building all those years ago, but on that tragic day, were thrilled they got to meet Deborah Wrigley as a result.

When I was reporting for KIAH 39 years ago now, I was dispatched to a brutal convenience store robbery on the east side of the viewing area. Well, Wrigley had been there to cover the story the day before and the employees were still talking about it. After my interview, Wrigley was the topic of conversation, not the clean up after the crime. Once again, these people had just gone through a harrowing experience, but at least they were excited they got to meet Deborah Wrigley as a result.

Let me say from working in the industry and now blogging about it in my underwear, viewers are not usually this excited about meeting TV journalists these days from what I can tell.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 06, 2016
Deborah Wrigley returns to KTRK abc13






67 comments:

  1. I'll always remember Deborah for her no-nonsense news gathering, and that could be both good or bad depending what station you worked for, her teaching one of my media classes at UH, and her overwhelming love of dogs which I witnessed more than once. I wish her all the best.

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  2. Deborah had been with Ch. 13 for a very, very long time for almost 40 years.

    I wish her the best in the future endeavors!

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  3. Houston needs Wayne back on TV. None of the local stations have an investigative reporter or consumer reporter worth squat.

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    1. They do enjoyed Wayne! He went after real stories! We want news not model want a be! Sorry but some of the ladies dresses are a bit much! Not very professional!

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    2. I've never understood why people liked him. He had a big ego, annoying voice and was wrong a lot.

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    3. Also, the way they move around on set is a bit distracting. It's almost like a play. We are not watching to see fashions, etc. Just stick with the daily news - not old news.

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  4. She was a real Ch. 13 institution.

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  5. Tremendous loss for television news in Houston and a sad day for the animals. I will always remember her passion for animals. Best of luck, Deborah!

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  6. I was fortunate enough to attend Jr. & Sr. High School with Debbie. I think we all knew back then that she was going to make it big one day! She was a great student and friend and I will always remember her. You did well, my friend!

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  7. A sad day for REAL news reporting. Debbie is a journalist in the truest sense of the word. News stations with quality reporters are very few in Houston.

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    1. So sad after almost 40 years and she gets a press release! Dine with channel 13 sorry Art and Melanie!

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  8. Debbie deserves better than than a one graph press release on Facebook. If weasels could write, that's how they would sound.

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    1. This classless move is what one would expect from an unlovable former cheerleader running the shop (into a ratings loss) at ABC-13. Not the first veteran journalist she's forced out for dubious reasons.

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  9. Deborah Wrigley is one of Houstons great storytellers and a real journalist. We shared so many memories at a once great television station. Houstonians deserve so much better than they get from local news these days and any boss who lets a writing legend like that leave is. Well. We all know. Especially those of us who had the pleasure to work for such lovely people in the past. 13 was a family. And Deborah was the tough fearless no nonsense kind of reporter who was a part of my journalism family. She deserves a tribute for her years of dedication and fight to tell the story. Knowing 13...They didn't give her the respect she deserved.

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    1. I just curtsied...purely impromptu!

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    2. What is wrong with the people running this station?

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    3. Its a youth oriented world and job market.
      Unstable longevity of the younger worker vs Stable experienced older worker. The work force chose the bottom line of youth and lower wages.

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  10. I am native Houstonian... just a ABC13 viewer....I am shocked and saddened to hear this news. Houston has so few true journalist like Deborah Wrigley...Shame on ABC13 !

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    1. It's a shame....last time I saw her she was covering the flood on 290 near Waller...TV news just wants readers, not reporters

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  11. I agree with all of the comments about Deborah Wrigley. However, as a fellow television behind the scenes person, I think I remember her in a "Swim Suit" when she first appeared on the channel. I am getting older now but that seems to "stick in my memory". Does anyone else remember this??

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    1. Adrain, that was Mary Ellen Conway, not Deborah.

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  12. Deborah Wrigley will be missed. Always looked forward to her seeing her report with such professionalism throughout the years. She is the only reason I continued to tune in to channel 13 - shame on them.

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  13. Yeah, have to agree with that. The current management promotes more out of popularity and "Entertainment Tonight" mediocrity. Deborah could write circles around all of the bling beauty model staff on-air right now. She was probably forced out or given a horrible new "opportunity" or shift at ABC-13. Wouldn't surprise me if KTRK management told her "now after your tenure you'll have to do janitorial service and report on it!" She didn't even get to retire properly--and didn't get a nice farewell from all of her co-workers--after 40 years??? Who does that? What company does that? Brilliant work, ABC-13. Cheers to your Dunder Mifflin mediocrity managers.

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    1. Hey! Don't give Dunder Mifflin such a bad name by looping them in with Henry and the Gang that couldn't shoot straight! You think this is bad? Just wait to see what they do to Dave Ward later this year. It will make Deborah's departure look like the queen's jubilee!

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    2. All you have to see is the statement from the California transplant and you know what happened.

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    3. What are you talking about Anonymous? This statement is like vague booking.

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  14. Best news writer in town...working side by side for years, I remain an admirer of her work. Good luck Deborah!

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  15. KTRK, please put Wayne Dolcefino back on the air. Not only would we finally have real investigations again (not lightweight), but maybe he'd get to the bottom of what's going on at the station. 1 keen observer's note about direction of news content: Seems like a serious dumbing down of talent, and reporting about Botox. Yuck. Don't want to watch them.

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  16. This saddens me beyond words. She is one of the finest reporters for ANY television entity and losing her will negatively impact Houston news in general and KTRK in particular. Good luck, Deborah Wrigley.

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  17. Dave Strickland and Don Kobos are spot on. I had the privilege of working with Deborah for 9 years at KTRK. She is a tremendous journalist and a treasured Houston institution. I marveled at how she approached each and every story. She did it with integrity and character and she is THE absolute best writer in the television news business. Her depth and wealth of knowledge of the Houston market and its key players is unrivaled. Well, ok...my colleague Phil Archer is right up there with her ;-) in all seriousness, her exit marks the end of an Era in the Houston Tv market. Wishing you all the best Deb as you embark on new adventures. SO disappointing and such a loss to our profession.

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  18. I have been on my job 35 years. GOD, I dread if they ever would do this to me. I would be devasted. DEB, I love you always and wish you the best. You have so many friends and fans that adore you and respect you.

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  19. I had the honor and rare privilege to work with Deborah during one of her final assignments here Dallas on the Ebola story in 2014. We spent a long time visiting, laughing, and sharing Houston stories together. You've never had a good laugh until you've spent any time at all with Deborah. We continued the relationship on Twitter. Whenever I put a question out there she would always be the first journalist to chime in. My close to 300K followers all adored her and respected her and loved her postings of her beautiful dogs and really rallied around her warmth. Deborah you will definitely be missed. Thank you for all you contributed to not just Houston but beyond. We appreciate you so much! ❤

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  20. Jeez, I wonder what type of "offer" they tried to give her to make her go like that??? Very sad to hear. Best of luck to her.

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  21. I've admired Deborha's reporting since moving to Houston as a kid in 1971. She is a treasure that will be missed, and I pity the KTRK management fool responsible for this misguided move. What a short-sighted, fool-hardy idiot...

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  22. Deborah...You will be very much missed. I'm an avid fan and only watch KTRK for my news coverage, and it will be sad to not see your wonderful reporting and usual positive spin on even the most tragic of stories. While I understand in this day and age that younger, prettier, and "built" seem to be the norm, more and more, I thought Channel 13 was better than that. They have lost a true reporter's reporter, and the Jounalism/News profession, the City of Houston, and KTRK viewers are much better off for having you in their living rooms for so many years. Good Luck to you and I hope for only the best for you!

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  23. Management hasn't said a word to the staff. There was no "good luck Deborah" email. No nothing. She deserved so much better than this exit after busting her butt for KTRK for so long. Treating a veteran of her caliber like his is definitely not good for morale around the newsroom.

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  24. Who is the Bozo that did this ???

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  25. So sad to read this. I remember watching Deborah Wrigley back in the 90's when I was in middle school, so I've virtually grown up watching her. She's the best at KTRK and didn't deserve this graceless, cold exit. She deserved all the fanfare you can bet Dave Ward will receive when he's finally pried out of the anchor chair.
    I'll miss you, Deborah. Good luck!!

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  26. Pathetic. Cost-cutting at its worst. They're prolly jumping for joy bc now they can hire 2 or 3 newbie reporters from Lubbock or Amarillo for what they were paying Deborah. Nevermind they have minimal skills and zero sources ... they're cheap and Wendy needs to make budget. Also, seriously ... management has said nothing to the staff?!? Wow.

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  27. Replies
    1. What happened, really? This seems to be par for most companies now days. After 18 plus years of service, I was treated so badly that they pushed me out the door. I chose to retire after that and am enjoying my life immensely by not having to put up with a bunch of idiots! Hopefully Deborah will do the same thing. May God Bless you Deborah!

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  28. I've known Deborah since her days in radio in the early 70s. Her first real job was at the short-lived Houston News Service, a local wire service created and run by the late Jack Cato and former KPRC guy George Nelson. They had people out covering local news and selling their stories to radio and TV subscribers around town. I was at KPRC Radio news at that time, and we knew any story with her name on it could go on the air with little or no editing or rewriting.

    One of my favorite memories of her from back then was when a local media writer noticed that she was the "cut-away shot of choice" for the local TV photographers. She was and still is so gorgeous that showed up in cut-away shots on the local news practically every night.

    Deborah is one of the best and most principled TV journalists I've ever known, and Houston TV news is less for not having her. Surely one of KTRK's competitors will put her back on the air.
    (Jim Bell - Retired in East Texas)

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    1. It's funny. Whenever they do a story about a man, people never mention how gorgeous they thought he was, or still is. I think being thin, blond and wearing a lot of makeup when she was young, was her downfall. She had to stay that way and she didn't. I was a fan of hers, but I don't think anyone else will hire her. They like them young and if you have noticed, only seem to be hiring minority reporters; especially, Hispanics.

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    2. Sad to say you're probably right. Deborah never fit the stereotyped "perky" mold that took over local TV in the 70s and 80s. I don't agree however that no one else will hire her. I choose to believe that somewhere in Houston TV there is someone with a brain who will recognize her vast experience and deep knowledge of Houston history and put her back to work.

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    3. She should probably just start her own business, or something. Is she 65? She can just retire and do work here and there. Maybe, write, or work for our horrific paper that now cost 4 dollars..LOL!!

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  29. Deborah is a great reporter and the genius who let her go should be shown the door. If she wanted to retire, where was the weeks of showing old reports and praising her decades of service on the air? Where was the mention of her leaving? You let her go as if she was trash—just threw her out. She knows how to write a compelling story that—as channel 13 used to call it—gets to the “heart of the news”.
    What has happened to 13? When Marvin Zindler died, they stopped helping people the way they used to. They let Wayne go and do not have any real investigations any more. The hire reporter after reporter and all you see is a revolving door of these new hires. Even Wayne's replacement only stayed for a year, and then the replacement's replacement didn't even stay for five months. Now they can’t even keep their longest serving reporter. Shame on Houston's News Leader!

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  30. Heartless. Reprehensible. Deb cast out after 40 years of service? With Cruella Deville Barbie and her little lapdog, the GM running the shop--what can you expect?? What happens when great writers are disposed of like trash--well, they write about it! Deborah was brilliant at her craft, and it was like casting pearls before absolute swine at 13.

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    1. The Cruella Deville dictatorship wreaking havoc at Ch. 13 is going to get much worse. I'm afraid that they'll kick Melanie Lawson to the curb next!

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  31. Stammerin' Hank strikes again.

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  32. Why do they not do a "Breaking News", which they do every 3 minutes anyway? The people of Houston AND Deborah deserve a moment to say good bye.

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    1. Yes, what is with the "Breaking News" every 3 minutes. Seems like everything they have to report on is "Breaking News". And always announcing the reporters names.. What has happened to 13 News?

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    2. Doesn't it drive you crazy? Every station does it too. I mean, a car cash is not major news;unless, people have died, or something major. I really can't take it any longer. We find ourselves screaming at the TV..lol!!

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  33. Deborah Wrigley had an incredible career here. Very few people today work at any station in a top ten market for more than 5-10 years. TV news is nothing like it was years ago. She can feel very proud of her work and contribution to Houston. She will be missed, and she is impossible to replace.

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  34. Hope you stay engaged and demonstrate that SHHS Trojans are persistent in their pursuit of Excellence. Thanks for the MANY years of reporting professionalism!! Wish you the Very Best in your next gig and the future.
    M Austin

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  35. I love Deborah Wrigley!!! She always got the story right! Good Luck lady in your next adventure.

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  36. Letting Deborah Wrigley go sounds like something one of our current presidential candidates would do, because it defies all common-sense logic.

    Art Abernathy

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    1. Seems like Trump and Cruella Deville Barbie (AKA: Wendy G News Director) have a helluva lot in common. Think Wendy and her small puppet, Henry just need to go and work for his campaign instead of savaging an entire news station. They're taking the morale of the station to an all-time low. (Most Hated ND in HTX) Politics aside: you are respectful to talent who have worked for you for 40 years! Deborah was an extraordinary reporter. You allow her to gracefully say goodbye.

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    2. Anyone married to John G doesn't have a track record of good decisions. So add this to the junk pile of her poor choices.

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  37. Deborah Wrigley was such a great field reporter. She will be sorely missed by Houston TV audiences.

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  38. just like the car dealership I came from. They do not care about their employees. Does not matter how long you work there or how HARD you work.
    It's sad to see big companies do this. I will miss watching you on 13 news.
    Good Luck

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  39. Although I am sad to see Deborah go, I can't say that I am surprised. I noticed in the past few months, that for the most part, I would only see Deborah on the weekend newscasts. I even mentioned to my wife that I was hoping maybe she was cutting back and getting ready to retire. Now my take on this is that management was attempting to limit her stories and airtime and she is too much of a class act to allow that to happen. Shame on you KTRK. I wish you well Deborah.

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  40. Deborah, you will be missed. Longtime resident, longtime admirer of your craft.

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  42. I grew up watching Deborah Wrigley in the late 70's and ALL of the 80's. I admired her work and personality as a viewer in my teen years. KTRK 13 inspired me to get into the news business myself. After working many years in the Austin and Los Angeles markets as a photojournalist, I started my own freelance business here in South Texas. I never met Deborah until this year (2016). Fortunately I saw her working the Hillary Clinton campaign appearance at Texas Southern university. I was hired to be Hillary's teleprompter operator . I saw her on the outside with her photog as we waited for secret service to do a sweep of the venue. I witnesses HPD coming along with the K-9 dog sniffing out all the news vans and Sat trucks from all over, and wouldn't you know Deborah made her way to the female HPD officer/dog handler (she seemed to know her) and confided with the K9 ...I knew right there she was an animal lover. I followed her on her station's Facebook page and saw the compassion she had for animals. I never got to really meet her but I grew up with her on the TV and was honored I got to work an event with her.

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  43. Hi Deborah;
    Hope all is well as you begin Chapter II of your beautiful life. Is there a social media site out there that those of us who have admired you over the years might be able to check in with you from time to time?
    You have meant so much to our community over your distinguished career that it would be a shame if we couldn't just say hi every now and then.
    Peace and blessings to you and yours always

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