MIAMI — As media trucks from stations far and wide congregate alongside the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts for the second of the First Democratic Debates, local anchors and behind-the-scenes producers are pausing to remember a legendary local broadcast TV executive who played a major role in how TV news would be presented for a generation of viewers.
WSVN-7, the FOX affiliate owned by Ed Ansin‘s Sunbeam Television, became infamous for its flashy and revolutionary 7 News.
While many criticized WSVN’s “if it bleeds, it leads” approach and sensationalized news programs, it created a market force that remains dominant today — as FOX affiliation loss rumors persist.
The birth of 7 News is the result of former head of news and program development Joel Cheatwood, who would take the approach to FOX O&O KTTV-11 in Los Angeles in March 1990.
By then, his job was done — WSVN, which had been NBC-affiliated until the “Great Affilation Switch” of Dec. 31, 1988 — became an icon.
While Cheatwood is remembered for his role, his work couldn’t have come to fruition without Ansin’s support of EVP/GM Robert W. Leider.
News of Leider’s passing was brought to WSVN viewers on Wednesday night.
“He was our rock, our mentor, our friend and tonight we say goodbye,” station anchors noted on-air. Ansin called Leider “the most wonderful person you could ever know … just terrific in every way.”
Sunbeam brought Leider to what was then WCKT-7 in 1974 as NSM.
In 1980, he rose to the role of EVP/GM, a first for the station.
“Bob loved Channel 7, loved working in the community,” Ansin said, who also noted that he played an out-sized role in creating major community events. “He is largely responsible for the Winterfest Boat Parade up in Fort Lauderdale.”
Leider also served as a chairman of the board for Habitat for Humanity.
If you’d like to post a message for Bob’s family, you can do so below. Rather than flowers, the family is asking for donations to Habitat for Humanity.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami: https://www.miamihabitat.org/
Habitat for Humanity of Broward: https://www.habitatbroward.