Benita Zahn, one of the longest-tenured news anchors in the Capital Region market, announced on air Tuesday that she is leaving her anchor job at WNYT News Channel 13 and intends to become a health coach.
Zahn joined the NBC affiliate in the 1980s, according to general manager Steve Baboulis, and since then has held positions as assignment editor, and as a reporter covering a variety of topics including both money and health. But viewers in the Capital Region know her best for her years anchoring the evening news.
“I have been studying to become a certified health coach and I will be working with a local practice. This is not, you know, ‘I’m going to help you lose 20 pounds,'” Zahn told her audience and co-anchor Jerry Gretzinger. “This is a new movement in health care to help you as a patient to set out your role as to how you want to live your best life.
“In essence, the health coach acts as a guide to prod you to make inquiry, affirmative inquiry,” she said. “It’s really something I wanted to dedicate myself to.”
During the pandemic, Zahn pointed out that while her friends were painting and home decorating, she was at work every day, but many of her obligations had been sidelined, so she studied for her certification as a health coach.
“Benita has been such a great and important part of what we have done,” Baboulis said late Tuesday. “I’m really going to miss her and I’m proud of what she has done with us.”
Baboulis said Zahn’s expertise in health coverage distinguished her contributions at the station and that she developed a “great caring for the community.” She represented the station and herself at countless public service events over the years, Zahn said.
“We couldn’t do anything but wish you all the best and just understand the pain it is for us to think about what a day here will be like without you as part of the team,” her co-anchor Jerry Gretzinger said on air. “You have been the face of the News 13 family for a long time.”
Zahn is “calling it a career” on May 28 when she will “turn in her anchor shoes.”
Baboulis said the station leadership is contemplating what happens next as management considers both internal and external candidates for the high-profile position. He noted that the talent pool is deep and that they have some strong people in-house. He also mentioned that he and Zahn discussed continuing possible connections in the future where WNYT might tap into her expertise.
Zahn, who earned a doctorate in professional studies/bioethics in 2014 from Albany Medical College/Alden March Bioethics Institute, was a 2019 New York Emmy Award winner, and has been recognized many times over the years with a variety of accolades. Among those, she received the 2015 Resourceful Woman Award from the Troy YWCA, the 2014 Arthur Kapner Spirit of the Chamber Award from the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber, and she was named one of the 100 Women of the Century by the chamber as well.
WNYT’s website notes that Zahn has covered numerous national political conventions, the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Unabomber trial. She is also active in local theater and has theater credits at Capital Rep, Fort Salem Theater, Park Playhouse, Albany Civic Theater, Schenectady Civic Theater and Schenectady Light Opera.