Denise D’Ascenzo Honored with Silver Circle Award
October 15, 2013

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She doesn’t like to brag, in fact the whole notion of being recognized for her work makes her fidget, but Denise D’Ascenzo is receiving a big honor. My longtime co-anchor has been elected to the Silver Circle for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Basically, Denise is being honored for more than a quarter century of excellence in broadcast journalism and contributions to the community. I’m extra proud, because I nominated her.

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Truth be told, I’ve wanted to nominate her for years, but she recoiled in horror at the prospect of being in the position where our mathematically gifted viewers might be able to take an educated guess at her age in a youth-oriented business. I’ll tell you a secret: Denise is over 35. Shhh.

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We are so beaming with pride and joy. Congratulations, my friend.

Watch the nomination video we put together for Denise: http://www.wfsb.com/global/category.asp?c=208507&autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=9561877

Read more about Denise’s career from her 25th anniversary in 2011: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/denise-dascenzo-celebrates-25-years-at-wfsb/

Channel 3 Back to School Pictures
August 21, 2013

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It’s August, and that means back to school, although I’m pretty certain when I was a kid we went back to school after Labor Day. Perhaps it is revisionist history on my part, but I’m still in the summer mode.

To get people jazzed about leaving the beach and heading back to the bus stop, our WFSB promotions guys Greg Thomas and Brian Kowalenko have come up with a pretty cool idea. They asked members of the Eyewitness News team for our class pictures when we were in elementary school to be used in a promotional campaign.

Here are the pictures you will see, but you’ll have to watch Channel 3 over the next few weeks to see the clever captions Greg and Brian pulled out of their brains. They’re pretty funny. By the way, that’s me above in the snazzy turtleneck in either kindergarten or the first grade at the Cornelius Callahan School in Norwood, Massachusetts sporting a bad case of bed head. Check out another class picture and read about my trip to one of my elementary schools right here: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/its-all-about-norwood/

Here are my Channel 3 teammates in their grammar school glamour shots.

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Mike Cameron

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John Holt

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Mark Dixon

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Kara Sundlun

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Eric Parker

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Irene O’Connor

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Hena Daniels

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Olessa Stepanova

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Scot Haney

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Bruce DePrest

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The Jubilation of that First Baby Picture
July 23, 2013

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WFSB made the rare decision to break into programming to get a live look at the royal baby leaving the hospital in London. Why? Our viewers wanted us to.

There has been tremendous interest in the future king by people who live in the former British colony of Connecticut. We nutmeggers in the Constitution State apparently love a good baby picture.

We’ve certainly had our share of baby debuts on television at WFSB over the years. It was a big deal when Gayle King, now of CBS This Morning, introduced her daughter Kirby to the viewers in 1986 and then her son William (shown here) a year later.

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The birth of Mika Brzezinski’s daughter Emilie in 1996 was the talk of the morning news. Mika is now on MSNBC and wrote of the attention her childbirth received in her book, “All Things at Once.”

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In 1997, viewers tuned into get a first glimpse of Denise D’Ascenzo’s daughter Kathryn, just a few weeks after she was born. Denise spoke to the viewers in a live report from Kathryn’s nursery.

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In 2007, Kara Sundlun and I introduced Helena to the viewers from her nursery, and two years later our son Julian had his Channel 3 premiere live on Better Connecticut from our family room.

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Also in 2009, Irene O’Connor showed off her twins, Robert and Quilty.

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Big $$$ Raised in 2013 Capital Catwalk
June 4, 2013

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Great news from the Hartford Stage! The sold out 2013 Capital Catwalk to benefit Dress for Success Hartford raised more than $72,000! The show featured some familiar faces as models including Scot Haney as John Travolta, Kiki Kennedy, Dr. and Mrs. William Petit, and ESPN’s Steve Levy. Channel 3′s Kara Sundlun was the emcee, and several members of the Channel 3 team modeled: Denise D’Ascenzo, Mark Dixon, Olessa Stepanova, Irene O’Connor and yours truly.

Special thanks to the sponsors and companies that helped make this event a huge win for disadvantaged women.

Hair: Blades

Makeup: Tiffany Hall Scarmana

Restaurants:

Black-Eyed Sally’s
Burger Baby
California Pizza Kitchen
Cuvee
Feng Asian Bistro
Firebox
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Max Downtown
Morton’s The Steakhouse
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Beverages: Brown Forman

Host: Hartford Stage

Sponsors:
Prêt a Porter Sponsor: Walmart
Chic Sponsor: The Travelers Companies, Inc.
Empire Sponsors: Aetna & EquiPower Resources Corp.
A-Line Sponsors: Cigna, Lia Sophia, Petit Family Foundation
Simple Sheath Sponsors: Accenture, All Waste Inc., Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, The Sandra and Arnold Chase Family Foundation, Inc., UBS Realty Investors LLC, Westfarms Mall
Client Sponsor: Jones Apparel Group
Full Page Ad Sponsors: Bank of America, Day Pitney LLP, Mickelson, Jacobs and Bozek, LLC, Reid & Riege, P.C., Vanishing Veins and Vivesse the office of Dr. Lori Greenwald, Waterford Group Charitable Foundation
Half Page Ad Sponsors: Barnett & Shoflick Family Dentistry, Berkshire Bank – CBT Region, Hoffman Auto Group, Lindberg & Ripple, Inc., Marsh USA Inc., NEOS LLC, Rogin Nassau LLC
Gift Bag Sponsor – Hebert Candies

Clothing:

Westfarms Mall
Mariella Creations Rocky Hill
Stackpole, Moore, Tryon, Tuesdays

Photography by Danny Kash

Learn more about the Catwalk at the link at the bottom of the post.

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Watch and learn more about the Catwalk and check out video of the big event: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8956188

2013 New England Emmys
June 3, 2013

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Executive Producer Special Projects Tracy Furey, yours truly, Kara Sundlun, Denise D’Ascenzo, and photojournalist Eric Budney

Members of the Channel 3 team traveled to Boston Saturday for the annual New England Emmy Awards ceremony. We had eight nominations, and won only one Emmy, but that single award was thee moment of the Emmys.

Denise D’Ascenzo, Tracy Furey, Eric Budney and Mike Arentz won for “Advancing Medicine: the Colby Salerno Story.” Colby is the Chashire man whose journey to get a heart transplant captured the hearts of people across Connecticut.

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During the acceptance speech, Denise pointed out Colby to the crowd and he received a standing ovation. It was an emotional moment, especially for Colby and his parents.

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Colby Salerno with parents Kelly and Jeff

Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron was their to receive the Governor’s award, for his years in television in Boston. Denise and I were also honored to be presenters.

John Holt, who had three nominations, was also there.

Here are some pictures of the night.

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Joe and Tracy Furey

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Tom Bergeron

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The gang with Channel 3 alumnus R.D. Sahl

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Vociferous Vice Back on Channel 3
April 18, 2013

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For a generation of Connecticut television viewers he was known as the “Money Man.” Jim Vicevich was a business reporter for WFSB for thirteen years in the 80s and 90s, and was a reliable mainstay in a period of tremendous economic change. He filed his first report for Channel 3 as the Carter malaise came to a close, covered the boom of the Reagan era, and signed off shortly after the first President Bush was sent into retirement.

To give you a sense of just how big of a deal Jim was back then, whenever he would walk into a lending institution during the banking crisis of the early 90s, employees began to sweat. They instantly knew that the Money Man knew what they didn’t know; that their bank was closing. Jim Vicevich had great sources.

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I was a Channel 3 rookie then, and after watching a couple of Jim’s reports I had doubts about whether I could make it here. He was that good; always the consummate journalist, known for breaking big stories and double checking his facts. Whether he was reporting from the Soviet Union or CityPlace, Jim was never unprepared. He spoke with such determination, Denise D’Ascenzo nicknamed him the “Vociferous Vice.” Our news director Mark Effron once told me Jim was “one of the best reporters around.” I learned a great deal from him.

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This past Sunday on Face the State, Jim returned to Channel 3 to share details about the current chapter in his life, one he is facing with with determination and optimism. Jim suffers from Lupus, an autoimmune disease that doesn’t get the attention cancer or heart disease receive, but affects millions of people. During our taping, Jim explained how Lupus has changed his life, and how he is using his position to help find a cure. You can watch the segment below.

Seven years ago this month, Jim launched Sound Off Connecticut, a daily show on WTIC AM 1080. He’s been called the “Rush Limbaugh of Connecticut,” but he calls himself simply a proud libertarian. Sound Off is one of the most listened to radio programs in the state.

Also on Sunday, Jim joined our political roundtable discussion with Christine Stuart of ctnewsjunkie.com and Matt DiRienzo of Connecticut Magazine and the Torrington Register Citizen as we talked about the Tom Foley interview and the governor’s race.

Watch Jim right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8797070

Watch Jim in a report from 1988: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/face-the-state-flashback-the-skyscraper-boom-that-never-happened/
…and this report from 1993 https://dennishouse.wordpress.com/tag/g-fox-department-store/

Watch Tom Foley, Vicevich, Stuart and DiRienzo right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8797070

Watch these segments on other Channel 3 alumni:

Bill O’Reilly http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/bill-oreilly-the-lost-wfsb-tapes/

Gayle King http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/gayle-king-at-wfsb-the-hartford-years/

Mika Brzezinski http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/mika-brzezinski-at-wfsb-the-hartford-years/

Bob Steele http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/tag/bob-steele-wtic-channel-3/

Al Terzi http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/goodbye-big-al/

Melissa Francis http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/melissa-francis-at-wfsb-the-hartford-years/

2013 Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 11, 2013

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WFSB photographer Mike Fisher grabbing a shot of our team careful not be devoured by the land shark that is a 1965 Buick Electra

What a weekend! Members of the Channel 3 Eyewitness News team were privileged to be part of the 2013 Hartford St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, and Mother Nature provided us and the tens of thousands of people along the parade route with a spectacular day. After a brutal winter, it seems everyone was in the mood to get outside and have some fun.

First of all, kudos to the Celtic committee and the many folks who put this event together every year. It’s not easy, like herding cats, in fact. Denise D’Ascenzo, Kara Sundlun, Irene O’Connor and I have been honored to be parade honorees and persons of the year in the past, and we wear our emerald green sashes with pride every March. Along with Channel 3′s Kim Lucey, Courtney Zieller, Jill Konopka and Matthew Campbell, we had an awesome time marching through downtown.

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Secondly, I want to thank all of the Channel 3 viewers who came out to say hi, wave, or shout out a compliment. Our team is truly humbled to see and meet many of you. Connecting with the people who invite us into their homes everyday, and into their iPads and phones is the best part of the parade.

Thirdly, thanks to Denise’s daughter Kathryn who snapped many of these pictures and to some of you who sent them in! Enjoy.

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check out last year’s pictures: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/03/10/2012-hartford-st-patricks-day-parade/

2010 pictures: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/hartford-st-patricks-day-parade/

another parade: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/channel-3-at-the-southington-apple-harvest-parade/

Covering the First World Trade Center Attack
February 26, 2013

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20 years ago I embarked on what was at the time the biggest assignment of my young Channel 3 career. Terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center, killing six people and injuring a thousand others. It was a shocking event to Americans, although in retrospect, it paled in comparison to what would happen at this very spot after the turn of the century.

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WFSB photojournalist Tom Lang and I arrived on a scene that was surprisingly accessible. Police had cordoned off the streets beneath the World Trade Center, but we still got fairly close. Those towers were massive, and at the time it never occurred to me they could be brought down. A huge bomb detonated in a truck had blown a hole in the garage, but most of the damage was smoke damage.

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Our assignment was to report the latest information and to track down Connecticut folks who were in building. We did both. Tom and I ended up staying in lower Manhattan for three days and just expensed what we needed, including clothes.

Eight years later, I was back.

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This Sunday in our Face the State flashback, you will see one of our several reports from the scene of the first attack on the World Trade Center. In this report that aired March 1, 1993, I was inside the lobby, which was one chaotic scene as people returned to work for the first time since the attack. You’ll see Denise D’Ascenzo, and some people from our state who were there when it happened. One local man told me he wasn’t afraid to go back inside the twin towers, saying “if they wanted to bring it down, they would have.”

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Watch the entire flashback that aired Sunday at 11AM on Face the State, only on WFSB Channel 3 right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8532290

About the author: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7316421

The Channel 3 Family Blizzard Vacation
February 9, 2013

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Word that a giant blizzard was about to blast Connecticut meant it was time for the Channel 3 travel agent to plan a trip for the Eyewitness News family to a resort. Disneyland? Nope. Atlantis in the Bahamas? Uh-uh. Cue up the jealousy folks, we went on vacation to Hartford South.

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Hartford South is the name the Sheraton has given to its newly acquired hotel in the Hartford suburb of Rocky Hill. Glee and anticipation were palpable among our Channel 3 colleagues as we learned whether they would be the lucky ones to be awarded the vacation of a lifetime.

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Channel 3′s Kara Sundlun kicked off our extended coverage of Blizzard Charlotte by anchoring our first two hour special Friday afternoon. Her duty done, Kara was disconsolate when she learned her resort wear would go unused and instead she would get to be home with our children, playing games in front of a fire, cooking and riding out the blizzard in the comfort of a warm home.

More than a dozen of us did make the cut, while others had to stay in other hotels which we later learned would offer such amenities as cold and frigid running water, sporadic plowing, and a hunger-triggering dearth of food.

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WFSB Promotion Manager Shelly Smith learned her car was useless in the snow

Hartford South had excellent food, and the service was above the top. The recently renovated hotel featured copious pillows, treatlets, and impromptu entertainment in the form of a woman who went on a liquor fueled rant in the parking lot at the height of the snowstorm.

The booking of the trip sent Denise D’Ascenzo into a tizzy. She went on an urgent shopping trip for new swimsuits. “There is no way I am frolicking in the Hartford South pool with the Eyewitness News team in a bathing suit from 2012,” she bristled.

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The main attribute of the Hartford South getaway is its proximity to the WFSB studios, and work took up most of our time, so regretfully there was no time to take advantage of the local tourist attractions. Instead, the highlight of the trip was a fleeting glance of the Eiffel Tower of high tension wires.

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Office park snowshoeing is a popular sport that allows people to marvel at the scenic vistas of I-91 and the architecture fitting of a neighborhood adjacent to an expressway, but our free time was limited. Denise was also distraught over not being able to squeeze in leading a water yoga class for her comrades.

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Assistant News Director Patience Hettrick trekked across snow covered road to make sure the news went on

On a serious note, Hartford South was great. The food is excellent..gourmet in fact. I cannot say enough good things about the people there. The workers were beyond helpful, with service that was personalized and heartfelt. Maintenance folks helped us dig out our cars, although some vehicles were beyond hope for a while. Many of of the Channel 3 folks had to hoof it to work, because we want to honor our commitment to our viewers to be on the air when we are needed.

It also gives a chance to bond. I had lunch with some colleagues I don’t ordinarily see because of different schedules.

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We also learned all-wheel drive or four wheel-drive is not overrated. Our employees with these types of vehicles fared much better than those who do not. Denise’s Buick Enclave saved the day for u as it sliced through the heavy blizzard snow like “buttah.” I have an Enclave, too, but Kara took it
home and sailed effortlessly down a snow covered I-91.

Face the State Flashback: Bob Steele at Channel 3
January 4, 2013

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To mark the renaming of Grove Street in downtown Hartford after the legendary broadcaster Bob Steele, we have pulled some vintage film of Steele from his years at Channel 3. While most people remember Bob for his years on the radio, he is also a key figure in Connecticut television history.

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WTIC AM 1080 and Channel 3 used to be one big family until 1974, when the Travelers sold Channel 3 to the Washington Post, which led to our change in call letters to WFSB. The insurance giant later sold off the radio division, too. Grove Street, at the base of the majestic Traveler’s Tower, was the ancestral home of Channel 3 before the state of the art Broadcast House opened at Constitution Plaza in 1961.

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Bob was an established name on the radio for a while when Channel 3 debuted in 1957, so he was the obvious choice to host our opening night before a live audience. You'll see that old film this Sunday in our Face the State, and chuckle as Bob deftly handled a series of technical problems.

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I also uncovered some old footage of Bob anchoring Channel 3 coverage of the 1963 Yale Harvard regatta on the Thames River. This clip is classic Bob Steele, that showcased his command of the English language he was so known for.

In addition, we will show you Bob’s last official sportscast in 1966, although he continued to work on television after that, and on radio for the next three decades.

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You can watch the entire Face the State flashback, this Sunday morning at 11 on WFSB Channel 3.

UPDATE: watch the flashback right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8138465

Also read about Bob’s call to Denise D’Ascenzo

http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/a-thanksgiving-lesson-from-legendary-bob-steele/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Watch these segments on other Channel 3 alumni:

Bill O’Reilly http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/bill-oreilly-the-lost-wfsb-tapes/

Gayle King http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/gayle-king-at-wfsb-the-hartford-years/

Mika Brzezinski http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/mika-brzezinski-at-wfsb-the-hartford-years/

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