Originally posted Tuesday, January 21, 2020 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
With the temperatures just above 40 degrees, Channel 2 Action News’ newest anchor Jorge Estevez breezed into a Midtown Starbucks Monday afternoon dressed in a thick fur trapper hat, a stylish gray scarf and a black wool pea coat.
Although Estevez spent a bulk of his TV career in Orlando and Miami, he isn’t a stranger to cold weather. The son of Cuban immigrants was born and raised in New Jersey.
Estevez was a popular anchor at ABC affiliate WFTV-TV in Orlando and appeared well positioned to stay there long term. But when sister station WSB-TV of Cox Media Group came calling, he couldn’t say no.
“It’s the same company working with an amazing station,” he said. Current WSB-TV news director Suzanne Nadell worked with Estevez at WFTV when she was a line producer.
“He is one of the most genuine and authentic people I know,” Nadell said. “He’s a dedicated worker and deeply cares about people. I think Georgia will quickly see that on TV and in the community.”
For Estevez, Atlanta itself was an attraction: “You have four seasons. The city in the forest. You also have the warmth of Southerners, both literally and figuratively.”
He is 44 years old but projects the boyish energy and enthusiasm of someone half his age. He is married to Enrique Betancourt, a realtor.
Here are five things you probably wouldn’t know about him watching him co-anchor the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Channel 2 Action News shows:
1. You can pronounce his first name two ways: While Jorge looks like “Hor-hay,” he goes by “George” on WSB-TV. Why? At Harry L Bain School in West New York, N.J., a kindergarten teacher in the early 1980s looked at his name and said “George.” He ended up just accepting it. “In English, I’m George. In Spanish, I’m Jorge. When I did Spanish language news in Orlando, I went by Jorge.”
2. He fainted on live TV - before YouTube: In 2000, he had joined News 12, a Bronx-based news network. He was on a low-carb diet and had been working 14 hours. He had the lead story at 5 p.m. and was outside in 100-degree heat. He started feeling lightheaded during the live stand-in shot. He managed to toss to the pre-taped portion okay and close out. But then the anchor decided to ask him a follow-up question. His attempt to answer it failed as he slurred his words and fell out of frame to the ground. He recovered quickly but was terribly embarrassed. Lucky for him, there is no video evidence of this moment since it was several years before YouTube showed up.
3. He has a one-eyed shih tzu: The dog is named Chubie, which is based on the beloved “Star Wars” character Chewbacca. He didn’t realize until much later that the correct nickname for Chewbacca was actually Chewie. Eleven-year-old Chubie had a corneal ulcer and after attempts to treat it, he had to have Chubie’s eye taken out. But the pain is gone and he says Chubie acts like a puppy again.
4. Inspired by Peter Jennings: In the 1980s, Estevez would regularly watch ABC’s evening newscast “World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings with his father, whose English wasn’t that great at the time. At age nine, Estevez remembers asking his dad, “Why are you watching this? You don’t really speak English that well.” He told his son, “I don’t have time to read the paper. I work 12 hours a day. I have time to watch the news for a half hour to find out what’s happening and I learn English at the same time.” This helped get Estevez hooked on broadcast TV news as well.
5. The 2016 Pulse shooting was life changing: The mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando became national news in June, 2016, and Estevez reported on it. “It was the first club I went to in Orlando,” he said. “It was a connection. Then I was asked to read the names of the victims at a vigil. They recognized that the community needed people on stage that reflected the victims.” He ended up being a host of sorts with his TV co-anchor before 50,000-plus people. “Everyone lit candles and I got goosebumps,” he said. “Right after it happened, people were wondering how we could get past this. This was how we could get past this. Coming together as a community. The outpouring of support for Orlando became a story of love and acceptance.”
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