On Oct. 7, Ginny Ryan, one-half of 13WHAM’s longest-running on-air duo, signed off for the last time.
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, it will be her former co-anchor’s turn.
Doug Emblidge will close out a 39-year run at the ABC affiliate on the 5 p.m. newscast and a career in local broadcasting that stretches back to his teenage years.
He doesn’t know what sort of send-off his colleagues have planned for the show.
“I’m doing one final story, so I get the last word," said Emblidge, 61. "I’m sure there will be some nice things. But I’m an ugly crier, so it won’t be good.”
On Dec. 1, he will join Alesco Advisors, a Pittsford-based investment advisory firm.
Starting his journalism career
Emblidge’s father, Roger, and his grandfather, Norman, were pharmacists. Norman founded Emblidge Pharmacy on Main Street in Honeoye Falls and passed it on to Roger. As fond as he was of the family business, Emblidge had no interest in pharmacy.
But as fate would have it, Roger Emblidge went to Charlotte High School with Dick Burt, who joined Channel 13 in 1962, formerly known as WOKR-TV, and was its first news anchor.
“I thought it was so cool that my dad knew that guy,” said Emblidge, who grew up in Rush and attended schools in the Rush-Henrietta Central School District.
While a student at Monica Leary Elementary School, he also had a chance to meet Don Alhart, Burt’s longtime co-anchor. And at the age of 12, Emblidge toured the TV station in Henrietta. That was it.
“I not only wanted to do this, I wanted to do it at Channel 13,” he said.
Eventually, he would. His first broadcasting experience was as a DJ for R-H’s student station, WRHR-FM. Throughout his time at Charles H. Roth High School, from which he graduated in 1979, and while a student at Syracuse University, he DJ’d and covered the news for WHAM-1180 (at that time an adult contemporary music station) and its FM counterpart, Top 40 station WHFM, as well as at AM stations in Dansville and Syracuse.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in 1982 from SU’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, he worked as a producer and reporter for WROC-TV, and in 1983 he joined Channel 13 to anchor the program “NewsScope.”
Becoming a news anchor
He subsequently took on roles as a weekend news anchor, weeknight news reporter and weeknight sports anchor before returning to news to host the 5 p.m. broadcast, which he and Ryan began helming together in 1990.
In 2000, he was asked to take on the additional role as co-anchor of the station’s early morning show, now known as “Good Day Rochester.”
“They said they were expanding morning news to two hours,” he said. “They wanted to know if I would be interested in taking that on for a couple years to help it get started, and so I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do that.'”
It turned out to be a two-decade assignment of split shifts.
“I used to take naps in my car in Mount Hope Cemetery,” said Emblidge, who was commuting to work from South Bristol at the time (and now lives in Canandaigua with his wife, Coleen). But, “I did get used to it.”
He left the morning show around two years ago when he and Ryan (inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2018) also began co-anchoring the 10 and 11 p.m. reports.
'I'm going to miss so much of this'
The lead-up to his departure has been emotional, punctuated by thoughts of “I’m doing this for the last time or that,” Emblidge said. “I’m going to miss so much of this, especially the people — the people you work with and the people you get to cover. So, that’s going to be hard. On the other hand, I think at this point, I’m ready, and I’m at peace with the decision that I made — it’s just time.
“My other interest is in finance, and personal finance especially, so I’d always had an interest in it.”
His storytelling abilities will be sorely missed, said Alhart, who has worked at Channel 13 for 56 years. “He has the unique ability to combine the emotion and the facts of stories to bring them together in such a way that makes people want to hear them.”
So will his willingness to mentor younger journalists. “I have watched him in the last few years in particular, not just with reporters but a lot of times with producers, going out of his way to help them craft a newscast,” Alhart said.
Emblidge hopes his legacy is that “I passed along some of what I know to younger reporters. I was certainly on the receiving end of a lot of good teaching throughout my career,” he said, “and I’m glad I was able to pass some of that along to others.”
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Doug Emblidge to close out a 39-year career with 13WHAM