It's offical As of yesterday, Donna Hamilton and Virg Jacques became the newest news team on WBAL-TV (Channel 11). The partnership starts tomorrow when they co-anchor the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend news. This assignment will continue until management decides when to begin the new 5 p.m. weekday news show, which is rumored to be sometime in March.
Hamilton became well-known on "Evening Magazine" on WJZ-Channel 13 from 1982-1990. After that show left the air, she worked on projects for the Learning and Discovery channels, wrote a book, "Gracious Country Inns," made a documentary with the Mockingbird Co., which she owns with her husband, David Paulson; and did a stint as a Saturday talk show host on WBAL-radio with her husband.
Jacques, who arrived at WBAL about a year ago, has had an interesting career that began when he was working on his graduate degree from the University of Chicago in Champaign. From there he went to Nashville where he was on the air with Pat "Wheel of Fortune" Sajak, who did the weather; John "Entertainment Tonight" Tesh, co-anchored news; and political commentators Al "Vice President" Gore and Lamar "potential presidential candidate" Alexander. Oprah was, there, too, but on a competing station. From there, he went to Detroit where he switched to sports broadcasting before going to Chicago, where he won an Emmy for his coverage of the Bulls.
A delighted WBAL's news director, Dave Roberts, had words of praise for his new team, "Donna personifies what Baltimore is all about and exemplifies all the professional standards we need. And I feel Virg has the potential to be an impact anchorman in this market."
Other new hires at WBAL-TV include Dina Napoli, who co-anchors the Saturday news show with Dave Durian and the Sunday news show with Tony Pann. She comes from KXLY-TV in Spokane, Wash. Lily Hamer, news reporter, came from WTOP radio in Washington and will be covering the NAACP meeting this weekend, and Dave Collins, a Baltimore native, has signed on as a reporter.
Baltimore City's Fire Chief Herman Williams and his wife, Marjorie, were guests of honor at the first annual Fire Ball held at the lovely Garrett-Jacobs Mansion. Saturday night's party attracted more than 200 people and raised money for the newly established Garrett-Jacobs Mansion Endowment Fund.
The ball also celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Engineering Society of Baltimore, which has its headquarters at the mansion. Among those at the party were Hollis Albert, Baltimore City Fire Commission; chair of the Fire Ball Janice Leister Hanna and her husband, Jay Hanna III, president of the Engineering Society; Mike Szimanski, president of Maryland Media Associates; Ray and Julie Wittelsberger, he's with the Gazelle Group; and members of the Fire Ball committee Audrey and John Behm, Ann and Art Thompson, Carolyn and John Turner, Jay Ellenby, and Caroline von Kessler.
I'm told everyone had such a good time dancing to the music of the Swing Central Band and buying silent auction goodies, that there's sure to be a second annual.
Sunday Supper with Charlie Rose was a special evening at Citronelle for members of Maryland Public Television's "Society for Excellence in Television." Guests sipped wine and a few even got their pictures taken with Rose, an articulate and witty interviewer seen late at night on PBS, before sitting down for a divine dinner of leek-encrusted salmon, salad and the most sinful tasting and looking chocolate and berries heart-shaped concoction.
I enjoyed seeing MPT's president and CEO Raymond Ho and his wife, Tere; Tom Bohn, MPT vice president of operations; Clarisse Mechanic, a member of Maryland Public Broadcasting Foundation; Libby Rouse, past chair of the society; Doris and Donald Sweet, incoming co-chairs; Gerson and Sandy Eisenberg, members of the society; Linda and Zelig Robinson, he's the chairman of Maryland Public Broadcasting Committee; and Rhea Feiken, longtime MPT on-air personality, with husband, Colgate Salsbury.
Also there were Lois and Michael Hodes, he's a lawyer, financial planner and owner of WWLG-AM radio, who told me he has just bought another radio station, WASA-AM, in Harford County. I enjoyed chatting with Dr. Douglas Strouse, a psychologist, who told me that he's collaborating on a book, "You're a 24 Hour Person," with an old friend of mine, Dr. Steve Sobelman.
Rose brought the evening to an end with a charming, homespun talk, followed by questions. And "between you and me," he said he would not have used the remarks Newt Gingrich's mother made about the first lady.
Congratulation to Baltimore attorney Frances Reaves and Tom Koch, government affairs consultant and president and CEO of Curtis Engine and Equipment, who became engaged last week. He couldn't even wait for Valentine's Day, so he popped the question last Friday, just before they were to meet close friends, Shirley and Larry LaMotte, for dinner. The LaMottes were stunned when Frances walked in sporting a beautiful 3-carat diamond with diamond bagettes on the side. Needless to say, the champagne flowed.