DENVER (KDVR) – The old videotape is faded and crinkled, but for Ron Zappolo and Libby Weaver, the memories of the very first FOX31 newscast are still crystal clear.
“I remember vividly the first night when we walked in,” Zappolo told FOX31. “We had the news all planned out, we’d been rehearsing for three, four months. Then on the first night, we had horrible weather, so we had to change the whole newscast and it was done on the fly and we did alright.”
“That was fun, and I knew had somebody with me who was as competitive as I was and wanted to make this work,” Weaver said.
Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of the first FOX31 newscast. The FOX corporation had spent months and millions preparing a news operation in the already crowded and competitive Denver news market. It was ready for primetime on July 16, 2000 at 9 p.m. But long before the debut, Bill Dallman, the news director at the time, had two crucial hires to make.
“How do you make a big splash? The only way to do it is to get an icon in the industry and in the local market, Ron Zappolo, and literally a national-level talent in Libby Weaver, pair them together and make a huge splash,” Dallman told FOX31.
Zappolo was a Denver TV mainstay. Weaver was already known nationwide as an anchor on the entertainment TV show “Extra.” Both took a big gamble on an upstart news operation, and hoped it paid off.
“I was more comfortable after I met Ron, and then we (rehearsed), and I kind of like being the underdog. I thought that was cool, starting something from scratch,” Weaver said.
“I knew in the rehearsals she was already the best anchor in Denver,” Zappolo said.
More than seven years ago, both Zappolo and Weaver decided to step away from the FOX31 anchor desk. Viewers often ask if they miss the newsroom.
“I don’t miss work, I miss all the relationships,” Zappolo said.
These days, Weaver is a successful real estate agent in Denver. And Zappolo returned to his first love: play-by-play sports, after leaving FOX31 in 2013. Nowadays, his job title is grandfather.
“All my kids are doing well and thank God, they’ve moved around a lot but they’re all home now, so we have all the grandkids. So to say that I do a lot of babysitting? That would be underplaying it,” Zappolo said.
To this day, both are as recognizable as the night they signed off the air.
“I had a guy repairing my toilet in my house the other day, and he said ‘Libby Weaver!’ I said ‘Oh my gosh, you actually remember me?’ And he said, ‘I miss you and Ron.’ So to know that we had a lasting impact, I’ll always be proud of that,” Weaver said.