Veteran TV journalist Lee Polowczuk to retire, Trey Schmaltz named top news boss at WBRZ
BATON ROUGE – Trey Schmaltz has been elevated to WBRZ’s Director of News, overseeing news programming with the retirement of veteran newsman Lee Polowczuk.
Polowczuk and his wife Susan, a former TV reporter, anchor and public relations executive, will spend their retirement with their son’s family and two young grandchildren.
Polowczuk has been WBRZ’s news director for the last 5 ½ years after leading the station’s Investigative Unit where he helped produce some of Chris Nakamoto’s most compelling investigative reports prior to 2015. A startup expert, Polowczuk launched and expanded news operations throughout his career in New Orleans, the Carolinas and Florida.
Polowczuk and Schmaltz, who served as the assistant news director for the last five years, expanded WBRZ newscasts to produce the most amount of local news in Baton Rouge. The pair spearheaded the launch of WBRZ Plus, the area’s only free, over-the-air and streaming news channel that features exclusive morning and evening newscasts, unscheduled breaking news coverage and original local programming.
Polowczuk is a Loyola University graduate.
Trey Schmaltz has been with WBRZ since 2010, previously serving as a news producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He also worked at TV stations in Monroe and Lafayette, where he attended college. He has a degree in general studies.
Schmaltz grew up in Ponchatoula where, at 15-years-old, he created a TV program on WSTY TV, a community television station serving the Florida Parishes. It later was seen on Florida Parishes TV 17.
“I visited WBRZ in high school on a class trip and it’s an awesome feeling – and great responsibility – to now be here today,” Schmaltz said.
“Lee is an important part of my life, a guide along my career and a friend. He may not realize how much I’ve looked up to him as a mentor. Selfishly, I feel I’m losing my partner, but I’m excited about what’s next for him and our team at Channel 2,” Schmaltz added.
“I’m looking forward to our opportunities and am pleased to announce a new teammate who will help WBRZ continue to serve our audience,” Schmaltz continued.
Beginning March 1, Ben Lemoine, a former WBRZ reporter, anchor and documentary filmmaker, will join the news team as assistant news director, reporting to Schmaltz and helping to manage the day-to-day news operations. Lemoine is a Baton Rouge native and retired sergeant in the Louisiana Army National Guard. He’s worked for TV stations in New Orleans and Arizona.
WBRZ also announced this week, a series of previous internal promotions that sets up the news management team who will work with Schmaltz.
Jeremy Krail was promoted to managing editor, WBRZ online at the end of the year. Krail, born in New Orleans and raised in the Hammond area, attended St. Paul's Catholic School in Covington and studied at LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication.
“I'm proud of the growing leadership Jeremy has shown and I'm looking forward to what he helps us accomplish,” news director Trey Schmaltz said in a staff memo.
Amanda Stevenson continues her oversight of WBRZ’s extensive morning news lineup as executive producer. WBRZ produces 4 hours of morning news from 5 to nine weekdays and at nine o’clock on weekend mornings. A long-time WBRZ producer, Stevenson is a Louisiana native and attended the University of Louisiana.
Also this month, Rod McKee, a Baton Rouge native and legacy WBRZ photojournalist, was named the station’s chief news photographer. McKee’s work is seen nightly in reports from Brittany Weiss and 2 On Your Side.
Additional news managers also include David Kennon, the operations manager, overseeing the technical production of newscasts on WBRZ Channel 2 and WBRZ Plus. Kennon is a second-generation WBRZ employee. Primetime anchor Michael Shingleton remains the news department’s managing editor. Shingleton, and his co-anchor Sylvia Weatherspoon, present two hours of nightly news: From 6-7 and 10-11 on WBRZ and WBRZ Plus. Weatherspoon also anchors the 5 o’clock news.
WBRZ broadcasts more news than any other local TV station in Baton Rouge, with morning news anchored by Brandi B. Harris, John Pastorek and Ashley Fruge.
“This is a time of new beginnings and we are looking forward to a great future as we continue to produce content that empowers our viewers,” WBRZ General Manager Rocky Daboval said.
“This is a great time to be in broadcasting. Our job has never been more important, and our team is ready to guide our community through whatever is next,” Jake Manship, Chief Operating Officer, said.
WBRZ is locally owned and operated by the Manship family. The family has owned the station since it signed on the air 66 years ago. It is one of only two locally owned news stations in Louisiana. The family also owns Baton Rouge TV station WBTR and KRGV TV in Texas.
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