For more than three decades, Ernie Anastos has been a constant on the New York TV scene. He has been working in local news since 1978 when he joined WABC’s Eyewitness News.
Now, the veteran anchorman is getting one of his industry’s top honors—the Lifetime Achievement Award at this Sunday’s New York Emmys—the first given to a local anchorman.
“The first reaction is, of course, I’m honored by it, and then at the same time I’m humbled by it,” Anastos says, “It makes me think about my career.”
Anastos, the multiple-Emmy winner gives credit to his Creator.
“Thanks for the gift and where it’s taken me,” Anastos tells FishbowlNY.
In a word, he describes his longevity as someone who has “enthusiasm,” and Anastos believes it shines through with the audience.
“I think they realize that I care, that I’m concerned about what goes on, and that I try to present myself on the air as someone who is aware and has access to information, but not to make the viewers feel uncomfortable,” Anastos says.
With the honor getting bestowed on the legendary newsman, Anastos wants to give back more to the community. As the weeknight anchor at Fox 5 (along with Dari Alexander), he reports on so much bad news each night, that it was time to change it.
“What I’m going to do now is, this is like a pinnacle, being able to reach that point where I can turn around and launch something,” Anastos says.
The launch that Anastos is talking about is putting a focus on happier news. Through Fox 5’s website, he has started up Positively Ernie.
“I’m featuring individuals who have compassion and courage,” Anastos says. “They’re doing things that people should know about.”
His site will also give information about improvements in health, science, and the business world.
In May, Anastos will transfer those good stories from the Web to a special on WNYW that he’ll produce and host.
“I’ve got some fabulous guests that are coming on and talking about improvements, changes, and things that are making life better for us,” Anastos admits. “It’s very motivational. It’s encouraging. It’s uplifting.”
Anastos hopes to draw enough interest to turn Positively Ernie into a regular series.
The famed anchor already gets plenty of interest when he visits schools. Anastos, who authored the 2007 children’s book Ernie and the Big Newz, enjoys speaking to large auditoriums filled with students.
“I’ll talk to them about who they are, what are their goals, what do they want to be, [and] their values in life,” Anastos says.
Anastos says he’s affected by hearing young people (or others) who tell him the only way to get on the news is by doing something negative.
He’s also exploring more charity work in the twilight of his career. Anastos, involved with several organizations including Easter Seals and the Juvenile Diabetes, is joining forces with St. Francis Food Pantries.
Anastos, who says they help feed more than 1 million people each year, is donating a portion of his personal neckties.
“I’ve collected ties over the years,” Anastos says. “I’ve had a lot of ties as gifts. I’ve bought ties …It’s my passion. It’s just like being in a candy store when I go into a tie shop.”
Starting in May, Fox 5 is launching the Ernie Great Tie Giveaway. Viewers will be able to register online for the weekly drawing.
“I’m going to send them a tie with a picture of me wearing it.”
In turn, Anastos will make a contribution to the St. Francis Food Pantries.
“It’s a combination of thank you and having a little fun with it, and at the same time doing something good to help people,” Anastos says.
The altruistic Anastos, poised for his career award this weekend, acknowledges viewers who forged a special relationship with him.
“Being on the air all these years, I think viewers have watched me at various stations and have known that there is a consistency to what I do,” Anastos says.
Some might look at a lifetime achievement honor as time to entertain retirement. But Anastos, 67, has no such thoughts.
“My dad, God rest his soul, was a tireless worker … He was in the Greek travel agency [business]. I guess coming from a Greek-American family we’re always taught so many different things about our culture, values, and work ethic is very important,” Anastos recalls. “One of the things that I remember just growing up was to make sure that you’re always busy doing something– active.”
This Sunday night, join @FishbowlNY as we live tweet the New York Emmy Awards. Follow @FishbowlNY. From photos of red-carpet arrivals to the winners, we’ll have the latest all evening with a full report Monday on FishbowlNY.