Anchor leaving TV station after 27 years

Award-winning journalist Marsha Bonhart, a fixture in local television news for nearly 35 years, is leaving WDTN-TV 2.

Her last newscasts will be Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 22-23, between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Retrospectives of her nearly 27 years as a WDTN anchor and health reporter will be broadcast during each show.

WDTN is transiting from LIN Media to Media General, which announced it would buy the station last March.

Bonhart learned her contract would not be renewed on Dec. 11.

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“The station has been very gracious to me about the whole thing,” Bonhart said. “When you get into this industry, you always know this is a possibility.”

Four others — among them a website worker, an editor and a graphic artist — also learned they were being terminated.

A message seeking comment was left for Joe Abouzeid, WDTN’s president and general manager.

Bonhart said she was embraced by Dayton, and the city was a great place to raise her sons.

The eldest earned a law degree from the University of Dayton and is currently working at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

Her youngest is a political science and philosophy double major at Denison University. He will soon study at Oxford University in England.

Bonhart studied journalism at Ohio University and came to Dayton in 1980 after working at WDHO-TV and WMHE-FM Radio in Toledo, her hometown.

“(Dayton) is was a wonderful place. This community is so warm,” Bonhart said. “Toledo is where I am from, but Dayton is my home.”

Her first job here was weekend anchor at WKEF-TV. About six months later, she became that station’s 11 p.m. co-anchor. She was paired Tom Miller, Jack Marschall and Carl Day before leaving town for a position at KTTV in Los Angeles, where she was a health reporter and weekend anchor.

She returned to Dayton in 1987 and worked in public relations at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Bonhart joined WDTN in 1988, where she has mostly worked as an anchor and health reporter.

She said health reporting was a good fit.

Earlier in her career, Bonhart did stories mostly about diseases and death.

“I realized I wasn’t giving people much hope,” Bonhart said. “I changed that and started showing people how to live better.”

A frequent emcee at community events, Bonhart’s series “Crack Addicted Babies” was nominated for an Emmy. She won the Ohio Public Images Award in 1993 and 2004 for producing stories about people with developmental disabilities.

She was selected as one of the Dayton Daily News’ Ten Top Women in 2003 and has earned the YWCA Award for Personal Achievement and Community Involvement as well as “Top 15 Friends” award from Artemis Center for Alternatives to Domestic Violence.

Bonhart said Dayton has cultural amenities envied by communities large and small, but one of the community’s biggest attributes is its people.

“This community is so engaged, and the people here are so generous,” she said. “When there’s an issue here, people take care of it. There is a massive outreach.”

Bonhart said breaking the news of her departure to her co-workers was the hardest part. She said she is grateful that she will have the opportunity to say goodbye to viewers on air.

“I appreciate how the community has responded to me over the years,” she said.

She doesn’t know what the future holds, but is open to the possibilities.

Contact this columnist at amelia.robinson@coxinc.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth

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