Fred Cantu On “Pause”
Fred Cantu is gone from KEYE TV (CBS) after December 30, 2010, but he’s not retiring.
“I’m leaving KEYE because they couldn't offer me the right position to do what I do best which is anchor,” Cantu told me. “I want to stay in the game. I have no plans to retire... EVER.”
Cantu joined the KEYE staff in August, 2002, after a pretty successful six-year run on KVUE-TV (ABC)’s morning show. Most recently, Cantu was co-anchor of the KEYE/Telemundo local news broadcast, working in the evenings. Before that he anchored the morning news on KEYE. He was moved to the evening news for a while before Ron Oliveira rejoined Judy Maggio behind the desk, and Cantu moved back to mornings.
In that position, Cantu endeared himself to many who began to refer to him as “Uncle Fred”. “Fred is just the perfect morning show anchor...friendly, upbeat, funny and professional,” says Judy Maggio in her KEYE blog. “With Fred, what you see is what you get. He never puts on an air, he never loses his temper, he works hard and quietly, and then [he] produces an amazing story or anchors a great newscast.”
The Austin Chronicle’s readers’ poll named Cantu “Best Anchor” four times during his run at KEYE. In October, 2009 KEYE eliminated it’s locally produced morning newscast choosing to use “The JB and Sandy Show” from Mix 94 radio with KEYE local weather cut-ins.
After bouncing from newscast to newscast over his eight year tenure, Cantu believes it’s time for a change.
“I know this pause is scaring my wife of 34 years. But she and I know this is the ‘for better or for worse’ that we talked about in our marriage vows. We went through this eight years ago and came out ahead. I'm sure the same will happen again,” Cantu said.
Change is a constant in broadcast journalism, and Cantu knows it. His broadcasting career began in Brownsville. “I started in radio while still in high school in the early 1970s, a time my daughter refers to as ‘when dinosaurs ruled the earth.’"
He reinvented himself in the 1980s here in Austin. While continuing to do radio news at KNOW AM, KVET AM, and KLBJ AM, he completed his BA in Broadcast Journalism at The University of Texas in 1990.
I first worked with him when he was an older-than-average and very savvy “intern” at KVUE TV in the late 1980s. After finishing his degree, he made the jump to TV news as weekend anchor at KTBC TV when it was still affiliated with CBS.
At the current CBS station, KEYE, he developed a continuing segment called “Gadget Guy”. Cantu totally gets technology. He also gets how technology is changing TV news.
“People used to gather at the end of the day to catch up on the news. Thanks to the Internet, that doesn't happen anymore. But local TV news can be the go-to source at the end of the day for insight into what's happening locally,” Cantu told me.
What will he miss about TV news? It’s too soon to tell. “I'm not really gone. My career is just on pause.”
© Jim McNabb, 2010