Brian Bolter, who anchors weekday newscasts at 6, 10 and 11 p.m. on WTTG Fox 5, is leaving the network this week to focus on his own businesses, which include an Annapolis wine bar and a nearby speakeasy restaurant that is scheduled to open this autumn. Bolter’s last broadcast will be Thursday.
“I realized it was time to finally follow my head and heart in writing this new chapter in life,” Bolter said in a written statement released Monday. “The station agreed and we’re amicably parting ways.”
Asked to elaborate on the phone, Bolter said he has been mulling a departure for most of this year as he readied his second establishment, DRY 85, which will specialize in bourbon, beer and “gourmet comfort food” on Main Street in Annapolis. His contract isn’t up, but that wasn’t an issue, he said; “personal choice and timing” was.
“I don’t think my career in television is over — I’m excited about other opportunities, perhaps outside the local area,” he said, adding that he hasn’t received any TV offers either before or since announcing his decision.
Patrick Paolini, vice president and general manager of WTTG, said in his own written statement: “We want to thank Brian for his 14 years of service to WTTG. We wish him much success in the future.”
A rotating cast of in-house talent will assume Bolter’s duties until a replacement is named, according to a Fox spokesperson.
The 43-year-old newsman, a fixture at Fox 5 for over a decade, has harbored extracurricular interests for years. When profiled in a 2010 Washington Post story Bolter was simultaneously pushing the boundaries of the traditional nightly-news format and sinking his savings into opening his Red Red Wine bar, a passion project for the oenophile.
“You have one life to live,” he said at the time, “and so you can focus all your efforts on one thing or — in this economy, in the uncertain times we live in — you can take an opportunity to explore the canvas of your life, to figure out other things you’re interested in.”
“He pretty much launched the [Fox 5] NewsEdge concept,” weather forecaster Sue Palka said then. “The music, the fast pace — he’s the perfect anchor for it. It’s really indicative of who he is. Local news has changed so much in the past four or five years, and he’s very adaptable. Everything is tighter, geared to how we live our lives. Viewers are multitasking, and we want to grab their eyeballs. He’s been holding the ship pretty steady for us.”
Bolter said in his written statement that leaving Fox 5 will allow him to have dinner with his wife, take his 7-year-old son to school, tuck in his 4-year-old daughter at night. While announcing his departure to the newsroom Monday, he was wearing his corkscrew-shaped cufflinks, he said.