Whatever happened to?: Craig Wolf returns to area, lawsuit against NBC-2 continues

Craig Wolf, former anchor of NBC-2, is now selling real estate

Craig Wolf, former anchor of NBC-2, is now selling real estate

— Editor's note: Craig Wolf settled his lawsuit with Waterman Broadcasting of Florida in October 2012. Wolf's lawyer, Charles PT Phoenix of Fort Myers, said only that the settlement was confidential and Wolf was satisfied with it.

Former NBC-2 anchor Craig Wolf has returned to Southwest Florida to work in the real estate industry in Collier and Lee counties.

Wolf, 58, who moved into a South Fort Myers condo a week ago, earned a real estate license under his real name, Wolfsfeld, and is working for Royal Shell Real Estate.

"I've gladly moved on with my life and I'm looking forward to a great career in real estate and life in Florida," Wolf said, adding that he'd dabbled in real estate as a homeowner and investor since 1993. "This is home, so I got back last month. Real estate is about helping people and having ties to the community and that really is the main thing that drew me into TV news."

After losing his job with Waterman Broadcasting of Florida in March, Wolf moved to Nashville, Tenn., where he has family, because his contract's noncompete clause prohibited him from being an anchorman at other local stations until Aug. 31.

Meanwhile, Waterman has denied his lawsuit's claims that he was fired for being a whistle-blower and reporting hazardous workplace conditions to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in October 2010.

"Craig's contract was fully honored," said Steve Pontius, Waterman executive vice president and general manager. "We just chose not to renew the contract."

He declined further comment and Waterman's attorney, John Nolan of Fort Myers, said his firm's policy is not to comment on ongoing litigation.

In its answer and affirmative defenses filed March 28 in Lee Circuit Court, Waterman denied firing Wolf, saying it had decided not to renew his contract before learning he'd filed an OSHA complaint.

"(The) reasons for that decision were not only lawful and legitimate, but relatively common reasons in the industry, and the decision was prompted, in part, on advice from an independent and leading authority in the industry and market research conducted by that authority," the station's affirmative defenses state.

Editor's note: The Daily News takes an occasional look back at people and issues that have been in the local news, though not lately. Have an idea? Post it below this story at naplesnews.com or call (239) 435-3457 and leave a brief message.

Charles PT Phoenix of Fort Myers, Wolf's lawyer, said only that the case is now in the discovery stage, when lawyers exchange evidence. Court records filed June 29 show Waterman was asked to respond to Wolf's allegations and turn over records.

"It's a slow process, I know, but I'm patient and I'm going to see it through," Wolf said. "I was contacted by numerous employees, current and former, who shared their stories with me and told me they were sick in the building as well."

Wolf sued in February, accusing Waterman of violating the Florida Whistle-blower Act by firing him after 18 years. He alleged that since his 1993 hiring, the studio and newsroom were unclean, greasy and caked with dust, dirt and cosmetic residue. By 2006, he alleged, an uncontrollable cough began affecting his ability to present the news and became chronic a year later. In 2009, he told Waterman executives it was causing viewers to comment. He said he and employees were convinced his "hacking cough" was caused by the "unclean and toxic environment" and he asked that it be examined and cleaned.

But he got no response, he said, and his cough worsened, prompting him to see doctors, take medications and contact OSHA. This February, after complaining again, Pontius told employees Waterman would be doing spring cleaning. A month later, Wolf was told his contract, which expired in August, wasn't being renewed, effective immediately.

Waterman contends it immediately responded to his concerns and authorized routine cleanup and renovations, but none involved removing "known toxic or hazardous materials."

"In fact, independent air-quality testing had demonstrated that the air quality in the studio and newsroom was comfortably within normal ranges," Waterman's answer said, noting it responded to OSHA, which closed its file without an on-site visit because there was no reason to take action.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 24

csrainn writes:

I always enjoyed Craig Wolf on TV and I am sorry to see him treated so badly. I hope that another station will find a place for him and that he will be back on the air soon. If not, my best wishes to him for a successful real estate career and I am happy to hear that he is back in SW FL.

dayenunaples writes:

in response to csrainn:

I always enjoyed Craig Wolf on TV and I am sorry to see him treated so badly. I hope that another station will find a place for him and that he will be back on the air soon. If not, my best wishes to him for a successful real estate career and I am happy to hear that he is back in SW FL.

I agree.

ArrowII writes:

in response to csrainn:

I always enjoyed Craig Wolf on TV and I am sorry to see him treated so badly. I hope that another station will find a place for him and that he will be back on the air soon. If not, my best wishes to him for a successful real estate career and I am happy to hear that he is back in SW FL.

Agree -

MichCraft writes:

Craig is a journalist of the highest integrity. It is very sad that yet another person has to go to these lengths to hold a corporate entity accountable. Waterman clearly did not do the right thing in not renewing his contract. Waterman lost a very credible voice in Craig Wolf, and lost his audience as well.

brianfl writes:

Should have stayed in Nashville. I lived near the area for 13 years. It's a great city. Voted as the friendliest, most polite major metro area in America. I'm appalled at the rude entitled mentality of some of the people here sometimes.

freedomsailor writes:

Sure did enjoy Craig Wolf. My wife and I don't watch the news on NBC any longer. Their loss, our gain.

Giega writes:

Welcome home Craig. You have been sadly missed by your viewers. Thumbs up on your new endeavor. Good Luck.

privateroad writes:

allergic to work? Real estate is a good career for that.

drolds writes:

You need to understand Bernie Waterman. His house is painted white. His floors are white. Everything in his house is white. Because as owner of waterman broadcasting he rolls around in sh#+ all day and is as happy as a pig in $h!+ to relax in a house that does't look and smell like 5h(t.

mycophile2 writes:

Waterman Broadcasting is a horrible employer which needs to pay a price for their practices. Good luck Craig. Hope you future is bright. Waterman - suck eggs.

greathornedlizard writes:

whatever happened with the guy who shot himself in the Naples Police Department parking lot?
Still no identification?

bondie writes:

Welcome back! We missed you and your easy, intellegent way of reporting the news. Good Luck.

MisterK writes:

in response to drolds:

You need to understand Bernie Waterman. His house is painted white. His floors are white. Everything in his house is white. Because as owner of waterman broadcasting he rolls around in sh#+ all day and is as happy as a pig in $h!+ to relax in a house that does't look and smell like 5h(t.

I don't know Bernie Waterman, but your comment made me LOL.

cozyboy writes:

Good luck to ya Craig, wish you were still on the air. These kids that Waterman hires, today are so lousy, they need to go back to reading a teleprompter school. The more junior types they bring in, the less I watch the news. Wish they had a local station where you had be at least 40 years old and 10 years experience . You are missed Craig.

RickScott writes:

Go Craig!!!! Go to WINK please!!!

unfatcat writes:

in response to privateroad:

allergic to work? Real estate is a good career for that.

Not if you want to make any money at it. Like everything else that involves self-employment, paychecks don't just walk in your door. Consider that 1 in 10 people have real estate licenses. You think there's competition for other jobs, imagine competing with these people and then against big banks.

QueBonita writes:

I was tired of him also...However I don't know if his replacement is any better...so there you go...

Ruger writes:

in response to 3rdWorldObamanation:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Interesting, I wonder why other employee's didn't complain? What was the result of the OSHA inspection, or did they just find him to be a 'disgruntled employee"?

Rummm writes:

Be careful Craig, some of those houses 'may' have mold in them.

amuser writes:

Whatever happened to Jason the traffic guy?

SMILES writes:

He was let go unfairly, no doubt about it. It doesn't surprise me a bit that the "clean-up" was far from thorough. After all, it had gone for decades with NO cleaning. OSHA not checking it out?? Doesn't surprise me. I don't know anyone in this area who does the job they were hired to do. That is outrageous. They work for us & are supposed to be protecting us. Who will blow the whistle on them?

roadhouse writes:

in response to MichCraft:

Craig is a journalist of the highest integrity. It is very sad that yet another person has to go to these lengths to hold a corporate entity accountable. Waterman clearly did not do the right thing in not renewing his contract. Waterman lost a very credible voice in Craig Wolf, and lost his audience as well.

Hold a corporate entity accountable? For what? If the contract was completed, the parties' performance was completed. Wolf was not entitled to a renewal of his completed contract if that was the case.

ex151b#232440 writes:

Waterman must be one awfull place to work, just check the help wanted ad on the TV all the time "Call mary" constantly looking for someone - must be a fast turnover, must be an awfull place to work!

RetiredPrintJournalist writes:

His story just doesn't add up. Just another whining pretty boy TV anchor upset when things don't go his way. Mr. Wolf pay for this ad for his realtor services?

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