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Wendy Rieger, host of Channel 4 in DC, has died at the age of 65

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Wendy Rieger, who hosted the popular 17:00 news show on Washington’s NBC station WRC-TV (Channel 4) for more than 30 years, winning a loyal audience with her well-meaning and well-crafted reports, died on April 16. at a hospice facility in Montgomery County. She was 65.

The cause is glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer.

Standing in television journalism for more than four decades, Ms. Rieger won local Emmy Awards, including one for reporting on Vietnam 20 years after the war. She herself made the news when she had open heart surgery in the fall of 2020 to deal with an accelerated pulse (atrial fibrillation) and a mitral valve defect. In May 2021, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and most of it was surgically removed, and she retired in December after 33 years at the WRC.

Ms. Rieger was an actress in Norfolk when she made her journalistic debut in the late 1970s, earning extra money as a news reader for a radio station in the Tidewater area. She was advised by a colleague from the station to “sound” like a journalist – “You know, seriously,” she was told. “Like Walter Cronkite.”

What Wendy Rieger learned from Washington

Assessing her less-than-thriving stage career, “There’s no closer way to get to Broadway than having dinner at Norfolk,” she joked, she changed paths. Ms Rieger spent much of the 1980s on public and commercial radio, working for WAMU, WLTT-FM and WTOP, and earned recognition for her engaging personality and careful handling of heavy news and community functions.

She also worked as a reporter for the weekend at the CNN Washington Bureau and in 1988 joined WRC-TV as a night street reporter during the foot epidemic. She began leading news broadcasts on weekends in 1996 and moved to 5 p.m. on weekdays in 2001, initially sharing the table with Susan Kidd and later with Jim Handley.

Four years later, Ms. Rieger reported a woman who discovered she was allergic to chemicals in her home and found environmentally friendly ways to fix the problem. The episode prompted Ms. Rieger to launch a weekly segment and an accompanying blog called Going Green.

“It’s easy to change a few things – change a few light bulbs, wash clothes in cold water,” she told the Washington in 2008 when the magazine awarded her a prize for her commitment to safety and the environment. “We want people to do this with joy.”

Going Green, with lessons on how to save energy and engage in a healthier lifestyle for people and pets, proved so popular that many stations on the NBC network began broadcasting its segments, and NBC Nightly News released a similar one. function.

On the air, Ms. Rieger was inclined to show a personally revealing, self-deprecating side when the mood was right. Blown by the wind and rain as it covered the hurricane, she jokingly told the audience, “A note about yourself: a waterproof spiral!” completely flat, ”she said,“ something like my dating life. ”

Wendy Bell Rieger was born in Norfolk on April 18, 1956. Her father was an airline pilot and her mother was an English teacher and later a polygraph examiner. Mrs. Rieger was 8 years old when they divorced.

She graduated from the American University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her first marriage to CNN producer Sol Levine ended in divorce. In 2021, she married retired WRC-TV news photographer Dan Buckley. In addition to her husband, three brothers survived.

As a former actress with flaxen hair, Ms. Rieger often appeared on the lists of the most attractive local celebrities in Washington. Tired of flattery as her career progressed, she said she wanted to keep the focus of her work. She was proud to have found a personal style of newscasting that The Post once described as “modest, confident, and humorous in turn.”

She called it just a reflection of herself.

“You have to be on the air yourself, you can’t go in there and project some fake person, some front, and expect people to believe that,” she said. “Ultimately, the real one you’re facing and you’d better be comfortable, because people see it from the other side of the camera.”