It’s a career she loves and it shows! Cleveland born and raised, Wilma Smith is truly one of “Cleveland’s Own!” She anchored Fox 8 News at Six until May 22,2013, her last day on-air before retirement.
Wilma signed off the airwaves after more than 30 years on Cleveland Television. Read more about her career here http://fox8.com/tag/celebrating-wilma/.
Wilma began her broadcasting career in Richmond, Va., where she hosted and produced a daily hour-long talk show, “The Wilma Smith Show.” She also anchored the 6 p.m. news, giving her the distinction of being the state of Virginia’s first anchorwoman in primetime. She came back to Cleveland in 1977 to host “Afternoon Exchange” on WEWS. She was on that program from the show’s inception — the only local anchor with that type of longevity. She also anchored the 11 p.m. news at WEWS for 10 years. Wilma brought her widespread appeal to WJW in 1994. Throughout her years on the air, Wilma has spoken with hundreds of newsmakers, politicians, presidents, entertainers and award-winning authors. Her professionalism and interviewing skills effectively bring out her guests’ most private thoughts and the most interesting aspects of their lives.
Wilma graduated from Cleveland’s Garfield Heights High School and from Bowling Green State University with an undergraduate double major in speech and English. Wilma also holds a master’s degree in broadcast journalism. During her college years, she won many academic and social awards, including BGSU’s “Outstanding Senior Woman” — an honor bestowed by the university president. Wilma was also a member of the Mortar Board, president of Panhellenic Council, May Queen and Best Dressed Coed.
Wilma is the recipient of 10 Emmy Awards for excellence in her television work. She was voted “Cleveland’s Most Watchable Woman” by local viewers and “Best Anchorperson in Cleveland” in a poll of more than one million voters. Additionally, she was voted “Anchor of Excellence” by the National Association of Career Women, “Newscaster of the Year,” a ” Cleveland Pacesetter” and “Best Anchorperson” by Cleveland Magazine, and she is a member of the Ohio Television/Radio Hall of Fame. She is also one of the few women to be named to the prestigious NATAS Silver Circle and to be inducted into the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters. She was awarded the first Graduate of Distinction award by her high school alma mater and has been given national distinction from her college alma mater as recipient of the Alumni Community Award for her countless community-service activities. In 2006, she was named to the National Journalism Honorary, Kappa Tau Alpha. She is also the recipient of the Cleveland Communicator’s Award and was named Cleveland’s “Citizen of the Year” by the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors, an honor given to only one other broadcaster in its long history. Wilma has appeared on the cover of Cleveland Magazine an unprecedented five times and was the only Cleveland broadcaster to have written a letter to Clevelanders in the 2099 City of Cleveland Time Capsule.
A local Web site once conducted a poll to find out who was “Cleveland’s Favorite Celebrity,” and after 500,000 votes were tallied, Wilma came out on top, even beating out Drew Carey, who finished second. Also, a citywide Gallup poll taken in 1999 determined her to be the “City of Cleveland’s Distinguished Woman of the Year.” And, that same year, she was honored by the YWCA with the Greater Cleveland Woman of Achievement Award.
Wilma is deeply involved in community charity work. She has served on the boards of directors for the American Cancer Society and the Juvenile Diabetes Association, for which she hosts her annual spring golf tournament. She was also a board member for the Animal Protective League and the Alzheimer’s Association. She hosted the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon for eight years and the Cerebral Palsy Telethon for 10 years. Wilma has also hosted the Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon. For many years, she served as chairman of the American Cancer Society’s Women’s Issues Month held in September. She also works with Wigs for Kids — a program that provides wigs for children with cancer — and with the Ronald McDonald House, a home away from home for families who have sick children in area hospitals. In addition to all of that, Wilma has worked for years with the annual Canton Hall of Fame Parade and Fashion Show.
Wilma lives on Cleveland’s east side with her husband Tom and their family of rescued animals — beagle brothers Clifford and Clarence and their beagle sister, Cassandra.