Longtime former Orlando anchor dies from cancer at 57

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A longtime former Orlando anchor has died from cancer.

  • Wendy Chioji, 57, who first joined WESH in 1988 as a reporter and eventually rose to main co-anchor.
  • In 2001, Chioji was first diagnosed with breast cancer and shared her story with viewers.
  • Chioji left WESH in 2008 to focus on health and fitness, including plans to open a bicycle training facility in Utah.
  • Though those plans were sidelined, Chioji she competed in multiple triathlons and races.
  • In 2013, after leaving WESH, Chioji announced she had been diagnosed with thymus cancer.
  • She underwent treatment for it and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro just a few weeks after completing it.
  • She continued to compete in athletic and events and climbed Mount Fuji with her then 75-year-old father.
  • Her former station and colleagues paid tribute to her Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, when news of her death was released by her brother.
  • WESH put her photo with the words “Remembering Wendy” on the digital sign on the side of its radar tower next to the station’s building along Interstate 4.
  • The station also changed its social media banners to honor Chioji.

Prior to departing WESH in 2008, Chioji began a slow transition away from one of the most familiar faces on the station.

  • After Martha Sugalski joined in 2006, the station eventually announced Sugalski would take over Chioji’s spot on key newscasts, including its signature 11 p.m. show.
  • The station then assigned Chioji to solo anchor the 6 p.m. newscast — even renaming it to “WESH 2 News at 6 with Wendy Chioji.”
  • After Chioji departed, Sugalski took over most of her newscasts.
  • Sugalski, in turn, would stay at WESH for eight years, departing in 2014.
  • At the time, there was no official word on where she was headed, but reports of her landing at WFTV turned out to be true.
  • Sugalski was reportedly had to sit out a year while she waited out a noncompete clause that her contract with WESH stipulated.
  • It was also reported that to lure her away from WESH, WFTV agreed to compensate her for the year in between in addition to a high salary.
  • During that time, she focused on spending time with her triplets, who had just turned two, as well as her three other children.
  • Her new deal with WFTV largely, in turn, displaced the station’s main anchor Martie Salt, who was reassigned to the noon newscast and became the station’s community ambassador.
  • Salt, meanwhile, announced earlier this month that she is retiring in December.