Where are they now?

Back on the beat with Marsha Bonhart, Grammar Queen

By Jim Bucher

You have no idea how many folks come up and ask me, “Hey, whatever happened to so and so?”

At the top of the list is my friend and former colleague, Channel 2’s anchor/reporter and all-around nice person, Marsha Bonhart.

She was a part of the local broadcast scene for…well, better not say, but trust me, it was a very long time.

Marsha was born and grew up in Lucas County, Toledo, Ohio. As a child, she always had a strong interest in writing and reading everything, but it was her stint at the high school newspaper and yearbook staffs that really whetted her appetite for journalism.

Her then high school journalism teacher, Raymond Ortyl, took an interest in the promising student and helped hone her skills. He also directed Marsha to Ohio University, his alma mater.

Eventually, we were lucky enough to have the award-winning journalist grace our city.

“My first co-anchor at WKEF was Jack Marschall, shortly after I started in March of 1980—we anchored weekends together,” Marsha says. “Then I took over the Monday through Friday duties with Tom Miller for two years. Tom left to anchor in Nashville, and Carl Day was brought in from radio after Tom left.”

The dynamic duo of Bonhart and Day would become iconic in local broadcasting history, not only at WKEF Channel 22 but later at WDTN for many years. Before the move to Ch. 2, Marsha hit the big time.

“I moved to LA after 3 1/2 years at WKEF to become a weekend anchor and reporter at KTTV, working there four years,” Marsha says. “I was married at the time and we didn’t want to raise our son there, and I didn’t like LA, so we came back. I started working in media relations at Good Samaritan Hospital in ’87 until March of ’88 when I started anchoring the noon at WDTN, eventually becoming the market’s only electronic health reporter. Donna Jordan and Jack Hicks were the main anchors until I moved into the 5 p.m. later. Carl Day came two years later in 1990, co-anchoring the noon with me. I then anchored the 5 p.m. with Bruce Pompeani until Mark Allan came to WDTN. He and I were a pair, anchoring the 5:30 with me for almost 25 years.”

We called her the Grammar Queen. She was the first to correct scripts, call you out (in a nice way) when your sentence structure was all over the map, and catch misspellings. Kind of like Amanda, my editor here at the paper, does now. Just sayin’…oops, “saying.”

In all the years I’ve had the pleasure of working with and around Marsha, never, ever did I witness a bad day. She was the sunshine of the newsroom.

While acting as her photographer for a health story at one of the area hospitals, it seemed like her interview was in section “Z,” meaning you’d lug tons of camera gear to the farthest part of the facility. Marsha was first to ask if she could help carry.

What I remember most is her smile as wide as I-75. You simply felt better being around her, but like all of us sooner or later, your stock drops.

“I was released from my contract,” she says. “A new company was buying the station and didn’t want to renew me. So out the door I went.”

But for this go-getter it was a mere bump in the road, or in Ohio, a nice-sized pothole. Marsha soon landed on her feet.

“I am now the director of development for the award-winning, the Miami Valley’s own Dayton Contemporary Dance Company,” Bonhart says.

Using those wonderful people skills and knowing virtually everyone in the community, Marsha found this was a perfect fit, albeit behind the scenes. As for an eventual return to TV, Marsha is done.

“I don’t miss it,” she says. “It’s changed a lot.”

But for those interested in a journalism career, she offers this advice:

“Do not enter the business without two internships in television newsrooms. And read everything—from Time magazine to Sports Illustrated to The New York Times. Your job does not end when you leave the newsroom. Also, be alert and well read. Use the State Department exam to test your knowledge of world affairs. Know your local politics. Be analytical. Examine everything—take nothing at face value.”

Words to live by.

Cheers to you Marsha, and to our readers, now you know…



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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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