Tough hours - not Dave - drove Chikage away

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2011 - 7:41 AM

KSTP-TV weekend meteorologist Chikage Windler has taken her prognosticating skills to Indianapolis' WTHR-TV for "a better quality of life."

That's actually not a swipe at KSTP, which has a reputation for having a disposable attitude toward talent.

"Rob [Hubbard, the GM] called me on Saturday to wish me well, and I told him I had three of the best years in my career here at KSTP," said Windler.

But "in the last year and a half now that my schedule has gone to what it is, it's been a rough time. I have been like a yo-yo. My shift has been doing Friday nights, Saturday mornings, Saturday nights, Sunday mornings. Back-to-back short turnarounds," she told me Tuesday as the movers were working at her home.

"I thought about it. I can't do that a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now," she said. "I decided it was in my best interest to move on. To their credit, my KSTP bosses were very generous. They let me look and they let me out of a contract early."

She'll be weekend meteorologist and work three other days of the week at WTHR, where her husband, Jamie, a FOX 9 photog, is also taking a job. They have a 3-year-old child.

An e-mailer, who left me with the impression that he was a friend of one of Windler's neighbors, asked me to find out if Chikage's exit was "due to her apparent problems with Dave Dahl," KSTP's chief meteorologist. Without disclosing the e-mailer's signed name, I read that entire missive to Windler.

"Oh, no, nothing about that," said Windler. "There's nothing wrong with Dave and me. It's just the fact that my schedule has been so awful -- the double shifts. Lindsay Radford [news director] and Rob said they understood why I wanted to leave." Of course, they do have some influence over work schedules.

Dahl's rumored stature as the highest-paid KSTP on-air talent (Dave and Rusty Gatenby are considered the station's two most recognizable talents) notwithstanding, I can imagine Windler inducing envy pangs in Dahl. Nice a guy as Dahl is, he's human, and over the last year Windler appeared to be a darling of ABC's "Good Morning America," which offered her a weekend freelance deal. A half-dozen times she's been flown to NYC to fill in on "GMA," and she's been the network morning show's preferred meteorologist when they want to go to Minnesota for reports on big storms.

Windler's demographics will be missed around KSTP's weather department -- she's a woman and half Japanese. While she grew up in Broken Arrow, Okla., her first name is the Japanese word for "thousands of views or vistas," she said.

See you on "GMA" from Indy, Chikage.

Anchor takes a day off

There was more to WCCO-TV anchor Amelia Santaniello taking a sick day during May sweeps than a tiny Facebook campaign started by Hennepin County Public Affairs director Carolyn Marinan.

The campaign coincided with Santaniello finally going to the doctor.

"You poor girl -- you sound punk," Marinan wrote on Facebook. An "Amy Hammer" chimed in: "Take a sick day, Amelia. You need it!" There was a cogent, very funny comment from a "Randy Klauk": "It's the May book. She can't not be there, it's in her contract, unless she dies, then she gets three days off."

Santaniello was off-air Thursday, the day she went to the doctor. "I've been fighting this for a week. I probably sounded worse than I felt, but I had a bit of a fever so I went in to the doctor and he said I have sinus and ear infections," Santaniello said. "They [her bosses] were really good about it. I'm glad there was something I can take to make me feel better. I'm sorry my congestion and all that became distracting. It was really nice that all these people took time to write. I'll probably go on Facebook today, thank them and tell them what I have."

A former local TV reporter, Marinan knows "being off the air in May is considered sacrilegious. You know, my first wedding I had to rearrange because of the sweeps."

Wife search for Joe

Because of technical problems, my video featuring the voice of Teresa Mauer, mother of Twins star Joe Mauer, was posted very late Thursday on www.startribune.com. You can see it now at tinyurl.com/3jhl8vn .

In the video, she talks about the kind of wife Joe will need someday, and we've included a quick interview with Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman (who "is Minneapolis," according to Lakers coach Phil Jackson). I enlisted Sid's help in finding the future Mrs. Mauer because that's just the kind of softhearted spirit I am.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.

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