Don’t touch that dial — Ernie Anastos is coming back to television.
The 78-year-old veteran newsman signed off from Fox 5 for the last time in June 2019, leaving some to believe they’d seen the end of a TV career that spanned four decades on New York stations. But after hosting Friday’s Folio Awards for journalists on Long Island, Anastos told the Daily News by phone that he thought someday he’d be on the air again.
“I always had that feeling, so yeah,” he said. “It was a nice break for me.”
Anastos’ two year hiatus — which included a one-year study break — ends when his weekly syndicated program “Positively America With Ernie Anastos” begins airing the week of Sept. 10. It is being distributed by Gray Television.
That show will see the famously upbeat Emmy Award winner speaking to people on the street about current events and interviewing guests including filmmaker Ken Burns, sports announcer Bob Costas and singer Marie Osmond.
Anastos said that when COVID started shutting nearly everything down in 2020, it was a “strange time in many ways.” It was also a good time for him to take a break and continue his education. Taking classes online through Harvard Business School proved to be just what he needed. He especially liked that virtual classrooms let him meet students from around the globe.
“The whole thing was exciting,” he said.
But now he’s ready to get back to what he knows and loves — talking to people in person and hearing their stories.
“I love being out on the street,” Anastos said. “I will be talking to people, about things that are important to them, getting their reactions to different ideas.”
Among his objectives with “Positively America” will be listening to people’s concerns, then helping to seek out solutions.
“At the end of the interview I want to provide helpful information,” he said. “Where can I go? What can I do?”
One thing Anastos said he won’t be talking about on the program is the divisive world of politics. He believes the fact that he doesn’t get political makes him more relatable to the wide range of people he wants to speak to for other stories.
“As far as politics go, I have never been affiliated with a party,” he said. “I walk down that straight line and I look to hear both sides.”
The ubiquitous presenter, who has also worked for ABC 7 and CBS 2, said his quest for objectivity follows him into the voting booth.
“When I go to vote, and this has happened to me many times, I go in there and I’m in there for a long time,” he said.
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When he finally emerges, Anastos said he’s had people outside the booth comment on how much time he spent checking a box.
“I said, ‘You know what? I had a difficult time making a decision,’” he explained.
In addition to returning to broadcasting, he said he’d like to someday pursue one of his other loves by somehow getting involved with a minor-league baseball team.
“Wouldn’t that be fun?” he asked.
Despite being born in New Hampshire, Anastos’ years in New York have made him a Yankees fan. But of course, maintaining his spirit of objectivity, the newsman said he also has “a lot of respect for the Mets” and will host former Amazin’s manager Bobby Valentine on “Positively America.”
He also hasn’t ruled out someday going back to school.
“I may age, but I’ll never be old,” Anastos said. “My heart is young.”