8 Palm Beach County Newscasters Tell Us About Their Careers And Passions
Meet eight TV personalities who deliver the morning, afternoon and evening news to homes throughout Palm Beach County.
Erin Guy hails from Indiana, a land famous for farming, racing and, most of all, basketball. At 5 feet, 11 inches tall, she played for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on a full sports scholarship, leaving with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and journalism.
“I’ve been playing basketball since second grade,” the WPBF-TV anchor says. “I don’t play much anymore—a pickup game here and there.”
One of the reasons she stopped shooting hoops was the birth of her daughter, Thea, nine months ago. Her schedule enables her to be home with the baby from noon until she leaves for work at 3 a.m. to do her morning broadcast.
“It actually works out really, really well for us,” she says.
But no matter how much sleep she gets—bedtime is 8 p.m.—getting up in the wee hours remains a challenge.
“It’s always a struggle waking up at 3 a.m.,” she says. “It never feels good even when you get a good night’s sleep.”
Her stint chasing tornadoes at a TV station in Oklahoma City helped prepare her for hurricane season in South Florida.
“I actually really enjoy covering weather,” says the 35-year-old. “I hate what it does to families, but I feel like we have the opportunity to help people prepare.”
Ashleigh Walters has a schedule not too many would envy. The WPTV-TV anchor rises at 1:15 a.m. to prepare for her 4:30 a.m. broadcast, catching up on the latest headlines, scanning her inbox for tips and communicating with the newsroom before she leaves the house. She arrives at 3 a.m. super prepared.
“One of the things I love about this career is every day is something different,” she says. “You never know.”
What time does she go to sleep?
“It should be something like 5:15 p.m., but it never is,” she says. “It’s usually 8 or 8:30 p.m.”
Originally from Manhattan Beach, California, she earned dual bachelor’s degrees in broadcast news and fine arts at the University of Colorado Boulder. She paints avidly.
“My mom likes to joke that I came out of the womb with pencil and paper in hand,” she says. “It’s just part of who I am.”
She is also fascinated by oddly scaled items, such as the World’s Largest Shuttlecocks in Kansas City, Missouri, and she travels the country in search of them.
“I think it’s the weird art part of me,” she says.
The 37-year-old Jupiter resident has been at the station for seven years and recently got engaged.
“I love our team here at WPTV,” she says. “I really feel like I’ve found home.”
Jay Cashmere saw his native New Orleans take a brutal beating during Hurricane Katrina, and neither the city nor the WPTV-TV anchor has been the same since 2005.
“Honestly, for me to this day, I don’t think there was another story that was more personal than Katrina,” Cashmere says.
After the storm passed, he had no contact with his family for 48 hours. When he reached them and learned they were OK, he spent a week digging them out of the rubble.
“It was a terrifying experience for them,” he says. He started working at the station three years prior to the storm and made a name for himself covering the environment. His “Wounded Warriors” piece, which aired as part of a reoccurring series, won a Suncoast Regional Emmy Award.
“That’s really my passion—environmental stories,” he says. “Because we live right next door to the ocean, the environment is a huge, huge deal. If I can tell a story and raise awareness, I feel like I’ve done my job.”
The 42-year-old lives in Palm Beach Gardens with his wife, Kelly, their son, Cruz (6), their daughter, Ella (4), and their 180-pound Great Dane, Jake.
“He is a gentle giant,” Cashmere says of the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast rescue. “He doesn’t know he is 180 pounds.”
Kelley Dunn arrived at WPTV-TV when Ronald Reagan was in the White House, Oprah Winfrey debuted her talk show and “Top Gun” was in movie theaters. She was a fresh graduate from the University of Florida, armed with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and one semester of experience as an anchor for WUFT-TV, the campus TV station, during her senior year.
“My first and only job,” she says. “It’s just lasted 32.5 years.”
She started as a general-assignment reporter in 1986, and in 2006, she was sitting next to the legendary Jim Sackett. Today, the 55-year-old is known as the matriarch of the newsroom.
“It’s a compliment,” she says. “Many of the people who work here are the age of my children.”
She has won six Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards for stories including a grandmother who lost her grandson to a rare eye cancer and the rash of vehicular backover deaths among children. The former led to the establishment of the Joey Bergsma Retinoblastoma Awareness Foundation, and the latter prompted the passage of legislation making automotive devices that could prevent such tragedies mandatory.
“I tend to flock toward the stories that really pull at your heartstrings or really make a difference,” she says. “Telling those kinds of parent-powerful stories is my passion.”
Todd McDermott has a TV career that crisscrosses the country. After graduating from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, where he studied political science, he jumped into journalism jobs in Washington, D.C., Wichita, Kansas, and Joplin, Missouri, and was tapped to be a national correspondent for CBS in New York City.
“I’ve been all over the place,” says the WPBF-TV anchor of the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. broadcasts. “But this is definitely the place for me.”
He is no stranger to breaking news, having lived in Manhattan during the 9/11 terrorist attacks while working at CBS.
“Somebody asked me here why I am always so calm when we have breaking news,” he says. “I said, ‘When you go through a story, realizing that it might be the end for everyone, it changes you.’”
He joined the station in 2012.
“I just love the people here,” he says. “If you worked at all the TV stations I’ve worked with, you know who you click with.”
The Delray Beach resident has two older children—28-year-old Max and 25-year-old Maddie—and a younger pair—3-year-old Ava and 8-month-old Grace. When free from the demands of work and home, he plays one of the dozen-plus guitars he owns.
“I do play guitar,” the 52-year-old says. “I don’t meditate, but it’s kind of like that.”
Liz Quirantes is the daughter of Cuban emigrants who left their country in 1962. Her father found work as a janitor and her mother as a seamstress. “We grew up really poor,” says the WPEC-TV anchor. “I always saw my parents sacrificing. They taught me hard work and education is everything.”
She attended American Heritage School in Plantation, where she met future husband, Craig Williams, an assistant state attorney for Palm Beach County. Then she graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and a master’s degree in telecommunications. Quirantes and Williams have been married for 31 years and have two children—son Casey, 24, who goes to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and daughter Emma, 21, who goes to Florida State University.
Quirantes heads five daily broadcasts but manages to go home every night for dinner. “That was always important to me—sitting down, saying grace, eating and conversing about your day,” says the 54-year-old.
An advocate for adoption, her weekly report “Forever Family” features a foster child in need of a home.
“We’ve had a lot of success stories,” she says. “That’s one of the things that keeps me going in this business. That’s one of the things that makes me feel like I’m doing something important.”
Steve Weagle wanted to be an astronomer.
“I had the idea that you would be up on a mountaintop, looking through a telescope,” he says. “That whole romantic dream went out the window when I realized that wasn’t the case at all.”
South Florida is better for it. He became chief meteorologist at WPTV-TV and the one everybody turns to during hurricane season. When Frances hit in 2004, he was on the air for almost 72 hours.
“That hurricane changed my life,” he says, referring to his old sleep routine of eight hours a night. “I can function on three hours of sleep a night.”
He is celebrating 20 years at the station, and while viewers might want him to stay 20 more, other plans may be in the works.
“It’s like the movie ‘The Firm’—I can’t leave even if I want to,” the 52-year-old jokes. “I definitely enjoy it, but I also enjoy boating and hanging out at the beach.”
He was born and raised in Nova Scotia, where he received a bachelor’s degree in math and physics from the University of New Brunswick and a graduate’s degree in meteorology from Dalhousie University. He does not miss the cold and the snow.
“I’m a heat and humidity person,” he says. “It never gets hot enough for me.”
Tiffany Kenney is a Palm Beach County native, a title not too many residents can claim. Born at Good Samaritan Medical Center, she attended Twin Lakes High School and now lives with her family in Palm Beach Gardens.
“I am officially the mom of two teenagers,” she says of her daughter, Caroline (15), and her son, Beck (13). “It comes very fast. What’s the saying—don’t blink?”
She left the area to attend four years of college—Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where she majored in journalism—and that led to a job in Monroe, Louisiana, which lasted three years.
“I was doing everything under the sun—editing, producing, anchoring—but there was just that gravitational pull to come back home,” she says.
So she did, landing first at WPTV-TV and then at WPBF-TV. The anchor of the noon and 5 p.m. broadcasts has seven Suncoast Regional Emmy Awards to her name, two for stories addressing opioids.
“I’m very proud of the work we did,” she says. “I think it is something that resonated with the community because we are so deeply affected by this opioid crisis in South Florida.”
The 50-year-old will celebrate her 20-year anniversary at the station in 2019.
“Hopefully, I’m still telling powerful stories,” she says. “That’s what I love to do.”