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WFTV’s Martie Salt is happy to illuminate the TV screens of Greater Orlando for years to come…

A transplant Floridian, Martie Salt has spent a majority of the last three decades in the spotlight of the evening news at WFTV. After a mid-career shift at an ABC-affiliate station in Tampa, she returned to Orlando in the early 2000s where she has continued to bring Central Florida the absolute best in breaking news and investigative journalism. We spoke to her about all that she’s accomplished in that time, how she performs so well in her role, and her favorite ways to relax and unwind in The City Beautiful.

Tell me about your history with Orlando. What brought you to this television network the first time, and what made you return for the second time?
My first television job was actually at WESH Channel 2 where I worked as a general assignment reporter from 1979-81. I was hired as a reporter at Channel 9 in 1981, became weekend anchor in 1982 and moved to noon and 5:30 p.m. later that year. I stayed in that position, which I thoroughly enjoyed, until 1994 when I went to WFTS in Tampa as a main anchor. I loved my time there but Channel 9 hired me again in 2003. I had such deep roots in Orlando and at WFTV that I appreciated the opportunity to come back.

What is your favorite topic to report on and why?
I’ve had the opportunity to report on a variety of topics throughout my career and I found most of them to be interesting in one way or another. I never focused on any subject in particular until the last two years when I was able to produce two specials on the care of aging parents—which was based on my own experience with my parents. The specials earned two Emmys and an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.

I’ve reported engaging and challenging stories the last 38 years but none as rewarding as “Blindsided: The Reality of Caring for Aging Parents.” The response to the “Blindsided” series has been tremendous because so many people are caregivers for elderly parents and that number is going to grow exponentially as baby boomers move into their elder years. Studies show neither the U.S. nor adult children are prepared for the tidal wave of elder care that is coming.

I am extremely grateful I was able to oversee the care of my mom and dad because I often thought what they would do if I could not help. Yet, my sister and I felt blindsided many times the past few years because it is an emotional, physical and financial issue. My dad passed away in June 2016 and my mom just passed away in October but I know I did all that I could.

Can you recall a time when the reporting affected you the most?
Without a doubt the most difficult stories for me are those on child abuse. They’re awful and I hate to have to read them. There have been a couple of times when I was simply caught off guard by the details and choked up. In one instance my former co-anchor Bob Opsahl just had to pick up reading where I left off.

What memorable projects did you work on last year?
The special projects I worked on this year involved the “Blindsided” series and “9 Family Connection” specials or events. 9 Family Connection is the community service arm of the station for which I am the primary spokesperson. 9FC benefits about 40 local charitable organizations and provides millions of dollars every year in promotion and exposure to organizations that would not otherwise receive. As a result, we can call attention to organizations like “Nathaniel’s Hope,” which benefits special needs children and “Operation Positive Direction,” which is an Orlando Police Department initiative to mentor Orlando teens. We can’t do it without the help of our four corporate partners: Stanley Steemer of Central Florida, Central Florida Auto Dealers Association, Fun Spot and Scott’s Air.

What does a perfect family day look like to you?
Nothing complicated. I love having family at home for dinner and a movie. We’ve watched a number of classic movies over the years with my son, now 24, throwing in at least a few viewings of Napoleon Dynamite. It’s hysterical. We’ve also watched our share of classic TV comedies. We love to laugh.

Who would you say is your personal style icon?
I can’t say there’s one person in particular but rather “a look” I admire. Does Audrey Hepburn’s style ever get old? I love simplicity, no fuss. The person who helped me the most with a professional look was a stylist by the name of Patti Shyne, who lives in Denver. The station hired her to advise on-air talent. I learned the most from her about make-up, hair and clothing as she addressed everything from head to toe.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy Orlando during your free time?
Again, nothing complicated. Meet friends for lunch or dinner, a little shopping and I’m good. The months between November and April are my favorite because the weather is perfect for anything.

If you had to choose to visit only one local theme park for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?
They all have their attractions so it’s hard to single out one. I love “Main Street” at the Magic Kingdom, the annual Candlelight Processional and World Showcase at Epcot, SeaWorld and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. I continue to be fascinated by the Kennedy Space Center and never tire of going. I love the history of it and am amazed by the fact that there are people who figured out how to get other people into space and back home again. I guess that’s why they’re called rocket scientists.

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
I never really have projected plans that far in advance. But I hope I’m in good health and enjoying some grandchildren!

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s January 2018 issue.

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