Meteorologist Marty Coniglio, who's forecast the weather on Denver TV for three decades, told us last November that he'd be leaving 9News on December 30. But he remained on the air after that date, and he now says he'll continue broadcasting for the outlet through at least February, with the possibility of extending his run even further.
"I wanted to be decisive, but I've become indecisive," he acknowledges. "That's the way of the world. You get new information and you've got to make different moves."
Mark Cornetta, president and general manager of 9News and its sister station, KTVD, as well as executive vice president for TEGNA, the signals' parent company, certainly hasn't been rushing Coniglio toward the exits. "I love Marty," he told us last year. "I wish he wasn't leaving."
Still, Coniglio, who spent ten years at CBS4 and five at Denver7 before signing up with his current employer, had come to the conclusion that he needed to step away from his role on 9News's highly rated morning show partly because of health issues. He suffers from chronic migraines and tinnitus, and he developed an ulcer that may have been exacerbated by an early shift schedule that typically requires him to get up prior to 2 a.m. As such, he wasn't sure if he wanted to continue working in TV — and he doubted his departure would cause much of a stir.
"I just do the things that need to be done," he said last year. "I was never high-profile at Channel 4, and even though I was the evening meteorologist at Channel 7, I wasn't high-profile enough for them, which is why they dumped me for Mike Nelson, which is what happened. And it's the same thing at 9News. We have big personalities here" — a reference to Kathy Sabine, who recently renewed her contract to stay at the station, where she's worked for more than 25 years — "so I do what I need to do to keep the cogs moving. I've always felt like I'm a utility infielder or a capable backup quarterback, but not really Tom Brady."
This modest appraisal of his appeal wasn't shared by Coniglio's fans. Our interview with him became one of Westword's most viewed news posts of 2019, and he was blindsided by the outpouring of affection from longtime viewers. "I don't even know how to describe the emotions" sparked by this reaction, he admits. "It's humbling and it's heartwarming. I can honestly say I had no idea that people felt that way, and it's changed the emotional environment surrounding the entire decision."
Meanwhile, other dynamics were at play. "A day or two before the story dropped, the station made some organizational changes," Conglio notes. One involved an in-front-of-the-camera switch: Traffic expert, morning-show regular and Coniglio pal Amelia Earhart was named the new host of the advertorial program Colorado & Company, taking over from Denise Plante, who left the gig she'd held for sixteen years a few months earlier after failing to come to a contract agreement. Another marked the return of former assistant news director Tim Ryan in a new role, director of content.
In this context, Coniglio reveals, "Mark Cornetta came to me and said, 'Would you think about staying longer?' And when Tim Ryan came in to interview, he asked the same thing."
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These outreaches resonated when, shortly thereafter, "I had a family member who got laid off," he goes on. "I thought, we can't have everybody taking a dive into the deep end at the same time. So I wanted to maintain some stability going into the new year. That would put me in a position to help if I'm called upon to help."
With this in mind, Coniglio committed to sticking around through February, and he and Ryan (who hasn't responded to a Westword interview request at this writing) are scheduled to chat about a possible extension in the coming days.
Coniglio senses that a potential commitment might be limited. "I'd say it could be for the longer haul, but maybe not the long haul," he allows. "I don't know what that looks like. But given where everything is right now, and the current state of development of some of my other projects, a little bit more time, or maybe a lot more time, might be advantageous."
Plenty of 9News viewers clearly agree.