WMAZ anchor desk finds new home in Stratford studio


The former WMAZ anchor desk has a new home as part of the Stratford Gazebo broadcasts

The Stratford Gazebo began its weekly journalism broadcasts in January. A new studio in the library was made possible by a Stratford donor. It includes camera equipment, computer, lights, green screen, and teleprompter.

The only thing missing was an anchor desk.

“We had a plain table, like the ones in the library,” journalism teacher Ed Grisamore said. “It was nothing fancy.”

Mrs. Elaine Murray, director of library and information services, looked for a new desk, but they were all too expensive and many had to be custom-made. A “virtual news desk” using computer software also was considered, but a real desk that students could see and touch seemed better for the broadcast.

The opportunity to have an anchor desk came this summer when Mr. Grisamore approached Mr. Ben Jones, a weatherman with WMAZ-TV, and Ben’s wife, Lorra, who is news director at the station.

“I asked them if they had an old anchor desk stored away,’’ Mr. Grisamore said. “Lorra spoke up and said, ‘As a matter of fact, we’re getting a new set in the fall.’ When they told me we could have the old anchor desk,  I was blown away. We took the journalism classes on a field trip to WMAZ two years ago, and the anchor desk was the star attraction. All the students wanted their photographs taken at it.  We never dreamed one day it would belong to us.’’

In June, Mr. Grisamore went to WMAZ to measure the desk. It turned out to be nine feet deep and fifteen feet wide. Mr. Jones later met him at Stratford to look at the studio layout.

“We were concerned it might not fit because the desk and platform are elliptical and the room is more of a hexagon,’’ Mr Grisamore said. “But it fit like a glove. It could not have been more perfect.’’

The desk has been many places over the years. Originally, it was at WUSA-TV in Washington, D.C. It was moved to WMAZ about seven years ago.

Election Night on Tuesday Nov. 6 was the final time the desk was used at WMAZ. A moving company delivered the desk to Stratford on Nov. 12, and Mr. Jones came to the Academy to help assemble the desk.

There are monitors in the front of the anchor desk to promote the Gazebo website, app, podcasts and broadcasts.

The students are excited. It even is the right colors. We would like to invite everyone to come see it.”

— Mr. Ed Grisamore

It will be used for the first time for the broadcast in early December.  

Ben and Lorra Jones will be recognized at the Monday assembly in January.  They have more ties with Stratford than just the anchor desk. Their daughter, Hope, is a kindergarten student in Mrs. Kathy Larsen’s kindergarten class.

Other students here at Stratford with connections to WMAZ are ninth-grader James Burrell, and his sister, Isabella, an eighth-grader. They are the children of Mrs. Lori Johnson, who co-anchors WMAZ’s news with Mr. Frank Malloy. 

“This desk has taken our journalism program to a new level,’’ Mr. Grisamore said. “The students are excited. It even is the right colors. We would like to invite everyone to come see it.’