He’s been co-anchoring Channel 2’s top newscasts for 15 years, yet Scott Levin is still the youngster among the Big Three lead male anchors in town.
In that sense, you could say that Levin doesn’t hold a candle to Channel 4’s Don Postles or Channel 7’s Keith Radford even if his last birthday cake could have had 50 candles and he has a bad back to prove he is no kid.
Levin laughs at the thought of being the youngster of the male trio and adds that he has great respect for his veteran male counterparts, as well as Channel 4’s veteran female anchor Jacquie Walker.
“I know how hard it is with the business ever-changing,” Levin said of their longevity. “You have to stay competitive and be relevant. You don’t want to become a dinosaur.”
The bad back has kept Levin off the air since the end of the November sweeps. He is scheduled to return Monday after having back/spine surgery following a car accident that exacerbated problems he has had with his back for years.
He has learned some things sitting at home during his recovery.
“For a small market, we have a lot of big-time talent,” said Levin. ”And all the stations do a lot of weather.”
I’ll say. In fact, I have said it as often as Channel 2 has told viewers that it seeks “to keep people in power accountable.”
Levin was powerless against his back problems and has had a lot of explaining to do when he has gone out in public showing off his layoff beard.
“It has been unbelievable,” said Levin of the response. “Everywhere I was, people were asking. My wife was rolling her eyes. When you are in the public eye, people feel very connected. It never bothered me one bit.”
TV news may be his first love, but it is his second career. He was a successful businessman in his first career, working 10 years for a company that manufactured women’s sportswear and at one time made the Fortune 500.
After graduating with a business degree from Skidmore College, Levin was fortunate to have made enough money in that business to change careers after the decline of the company and to have the telegenic appearance and voice to become a news anchor.
“I always wanted to be a journalist,” said Levin. “Always. I love to tell stories and public speaking.”
He also wanted a “normal” life after growing tired of traveling for his sales job and seeing friends putting down roots and raising families.
The native of Boston, Mass., trained with a retired “Good Morning, America” correspondent who became a TV agent, took some courses at New York University and made some tapes that he hoped would help him “fulfill a life’s dream.”
He was hired as a one-man band at a TV station in Yakima, Wash., and worked in Richmond, Va., before arriving 15 years ago at WGRZ-TV when the station was mired in third place.
To borrow a Channel 2 promotional phrase, “this is home” to Levin now and he loves the stability.
“It is a combination of doing what I want and finding a home in Buffalo,” said Levin. “I met my wife and built some roots. I didn’t want to be 65 and sleeping in a different hotel in the business world. I wanted to be part of the community.”
He and his wife, Lisa, are raising two daughters. Levin talks openly of his religious conversion after his wife had two miscarriages and then a difficult pregnancy with the birth of their younger daughter.
“Thirteen years ago I became a born-again Christian,” said Levin. “I found God. If I weren’t in this business, I probably would be a pastor.”
Levin believes that there are a couple of misconceptions about him, with probably the biggest one about his religion.
“It is probably the misconception that I’m Jewish because of my last name,” said Levin, who celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah with his parents when he was growing up.
Levin added that his religion has helped him cope with the pressures and celebrity that comes with his job.
“It has helped me in this crazy business,” he said. “I try to stay centered that way. I take my job seriously, but I don’t take myself very seriously.”
He adds there is another literally big misconception about him.
“The misconception is I’m short when I’m as big as most football players” said Levin. I’m 6-3, 245 pounds.”
Some viewers might also be surprised to know that Levin and Radford get together once or twice a week for dinner at a local supermarket to talk about work-related issues, family stuff, retirement and Florida, and they have become good friends. Levin noted that Radford and Channel 7 co-anchor Joanna Pasceri sent him a get-well card.
Levin doesn’t expect that he will address his long layoff Monday unless co-anchor Maryalice Demler or meteorologist Kevin O’Connell bring it up. However, he might have one big decision to make before show time.
“I can’t decide if I should shave off my beard or not,” cracked Levin late this week. “I might do a Facebook poll.”
This being TV, the only vote that matters is that of management. Expect Levin to be cleanshaven.