After almost three decades of sharing the province’s top stories on NTV, Toni-Marie Wiseman shares her story
After 29 years on NTV, most viewers think they know Toni-Marie Wiseman. Perhaps they do, at least from a distance, but there’s so much more.
At 52, she’s established in the industry as one of the province’s most recognizable faces, but you would be surprised to know she still gets a little nervous prior to each show.“I guess it keeps me focused. If I wasn’t nervous, I’d be concerned,” says Wiseman, who recently celebrated her 29th anniversary at NTV.
It’s surprising considering she looks poised and comfortable in front of the camera and, as always, engaging. She’s been welcomed into homes in this province, and across the country, since the late 1980s, most of it as the station’s weather person and anchor. “She’s talented and could work in any market,” says NTV veteran anchor Glen Carter, who has worked with major stations in Halifax, Ottawa and Calgary before settling on the main desk at home.
Wiseman has spent most of her life on NTV, and her career has been diverse. She covered entertainment for two decades, was the station’s weather person for many years, hosted the NTV Sunday Evening Newshour for well over a decade and made the transition to news on a full-time basis about five years ago. And the transition has proven to be a perfect fit. As anchor of NTV First Edition, weekdays at 5:30 p.m., she’s taken the show to new heights with an audience that would be the envy of other news programs in competing markets across the country. An estimated 80,000 viewers tune in each day and the audience balloons to over 100,000 on some nights. That’s an incredible number when you realize that just over 500,000 live in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“She’s the perfect anchor for this show,” says Mark Dwyer, NTV’s Director of News and Current Affairs. “Toni strives to make the show interesting for everyone, from hard news at the top of the show to lighter features throughout. She can speak with Premier Dwight Ball at the top of the show on a controversial topic and, just minutes later, chat about the hottest toy trends for Christmas.”
GROWN UP WITH WISEMAN
Much of her audience has grown up with Wiseman. She arrived at NTV on Oct. 9, 1989 and, within months, was on the anchor desk and reading NTV’s lunch-time show. “Looking back, it’d be near impossible for that to happen now. Live radio prepares you for the unexpected, but there’s nowhere to hide as a television anchor,” says Wiseman, who started her career in radio before making the transition to television.
For a station that prides itself on multi-dimensional employees – some working in radio, television and print – Wiseman is a pioneer. She’s anchored thousands of news programs for almost three decades, from Newsday and First Edition to the flagship supper-hour program. She also chronicled the province’s entertainment scene for over 20 years, winning a handful of music industry awards as the best reporter in the business.
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Prior to Eddie Sheerr, Wiseman was actually the station’s weather whiz – staring down the province’s most severe weather systems while interviewing community leaders, entertainers and everyday citizens. “She exudes a warmth that jumps through the screen. She may be the best I’ve ever seen at that,” says former NTV news director Jim Furlong, who hired Wiseman back in the late ‘80s. “Fact is, she’s a very nice and decent person, great on the air, and the camera shares that. She has a basic decency and her success has come honestly.”
And when she’s not anchoring shows and interviewing industry movers and shakers, she’s also lending her time and energy to help others. With her warm smile and aw-shucks charm, Wiseman is host of the annual Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation Telethon which has raised millions of dollars for sick children in Newfoundland and Labrador. She also lends her time and voice to various other charities in this province.
“I’ve been very fortunate at NTV to meet some amazing people and the Janeway has a special place in my heart,” says Wiseman, who recently emcee’d Persistence Theatre’s Pink Tie Gala, a group that fosters women in the arts.
Wiseman is a busy career woman with an even busier life away from the office. She’s a mom, wife and friend. From chauffeuring daughter Grace, eight, to music and acting lessons to wrapping presents for endless birthday parties, it can be a whirlwind at times. “But it’s also where I get the most joy,” says Wiseman, who is also a community council representative at Macdonald Drive Elementary in St. John’s. “Grace is my whole life and I can’t wait to get home each day to see her, to talk about her day. It’s something (spouse) Kenny and I really enjoy.”
A DIFFERENT MENU
Much has changed since Wiseman arrived at NTV in ’89. She’s now one of the province’s most-trusted anchors and her show, First Edition, is a winner. It offers a different menu, but it’s hardly an appetizer. The pace is different and so is the focus of the show.
Wiseman typically provides feature-length interviews with the big newsmakers of the day, from the Premier or senior cabinet ministers to business or union leaders, among others. There is plenty of local content as well as national and international stories.
“The show is much different than the 6 o’clock show, and I really believe our audience appreciates the fact that we provide local television at a time when others are cutting,” says Wiseman, noting it’s a challenge when the top stories of the day can often unfold hours, or even minutes, before she goes to air. “The key is being prepared and flexible to adjust the show, if needed.”
Although she’s spent almost three decades in the business, Wiseman still feels challenged. “The goal is to give viewers the best show we can every night,” she says, praising the work of her colleagues who play a major role in the show’s success. “People like Lynn Burry and Glen Carter have set such a high standard for all the staff at NTV, you feel a sense of responsibility to do the best work you can for our viewers.”
Wiseman is doing just that.