Loss of a Leader: WSVN owner Ed Ansin passes away at 84

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As a broadcast pioneer, Ed Ansin changed the television industry. It all started back in 1962 when his father, Sidney, bought the South Florida station then known as WCKT-TV. At that time an NBC affiliate, until nearly 30 years later, when NBC would pull the peacock from Channel 7.

“In those days, as an affiliate in Miami, we were an appendage on the network. We had a limited opportunity in which we stood out because of what we did locally,” Ansin recalled. “That was the news.”

Ansin knew, in order to succeed, his television station had to stand out, and to accomplish that he had to break the mold.

“Everybody predicted, I say the world predicted, that this was not going to work,” Ansin said.

But it did work. WSVN-TV joined the Fox network and with a new vision, 7News blazed a new path.

“We had to be creative and innovative,” Ansin said. “We can’t afford to be boring. We have to keep doing new things.”

And to both supporters and critics alike, one thing was undeniable, 7News was anything but boring.

WSVN-TV was highly successful. The fast-paced, visually compelling and innovative newscasts were emulated across the country.

Ansin also wanted to bring that energy to his hometown of Boston.

Ansin’s Sunbeam Television Corporation would now reach beyond the sunshine state and into the Northeast when he purchased WHDH-TV in 1993.

WHDH was a CBS affiliate at the time, but just a few years later, he once again became a partner with the peacock…as an NBC affiliate.

It was a great partnership for more than 20 years, but the relationship would end.

WHDH lost its NBC affiliation in January of 2017. But Ansin had been through this before and knew necessity is the mother of invention. WHDH became an independent station.

Ansin liked being beholden to no one and came up with a game plan, pouring even more resources into the news operation and airing the game show “Family Feud” in prime time, and those bold decisions paid off — an accomplishment unmatched by any other local news station.

For Ansin, it was not just about delivering the news but working to build a better community. Over the decades, Ansin gave generously to United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Feeding South Florida, Boys and Girls Club and Best Buddies.

“In terms of philanthropy, I feel that I’m in position to be philanthropic, and I should, and I enjoy being philanthropic,” Ansin said. “But the reality is, as a television station, for the audience to relate to you, you have to relate to the audience.”

Far from a hands off owner, Ed Ansin walked through the doors of WSVN-TV every day. He once said he didn’t look forward to that many holidays because it meant there weren’t many people for him to talk to at work. He was a true leader, not just by title, but by example.

Ansin told the Boston Globe, “I want to die with my boots on,” and that’s what he did. Ansin was in the office just this past Friday still doing what he loved. When asked previously how he wanted viewers to think of his stations, Ansin was humble but clear.

“I want them to know that every day we do the best we can, and we try to continue to engage our audience in the best newscast and everything else we can, and it works for us,” Ansin said.

We will continue to work to make Mr. Ansin proud and continue his vision into the future.

As for his TV stations, there will be a seamless transition to the leadership of Ansin’s sons Andy and James Ansin.

Ansin is survived by his three children — Andy, James and daughter Stephanie. A small, private service is being planned.

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