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Cigars in the Newsroom

Cigars are a hot story with local TV newscasters.
Alejandro Benes
From the Print Edition:
Danny DeVito, Winter 96

(continued from page 2)

"It's hard to find the time at work to enjoy a cigar," he says, but that doesn't stop him from enjoying cigars with his friends from the office. "We'll get together and exchange brands and recommendations, and if we come back from someplace, like I came back from Jamaica and brought some cigars, we'll trade."

Fred Kalil and Randy Waters, sports anchors and reporters at Atlanta's WXIA, have also exchanged cigars, but never smoked them together, mostly because of scheduling conflicts. Waters notes that he enjoys a cigar most when talking sports with friends. "Most of 'em are huge college basketball or football fans, and when you're sitting around talking it just seems to add to the enjoyment of the conversation."

Kalil, who recently went on a driving trip to Canada with his wife, says that although he and Waters have never smoked cigars together, "Randy will bring me one if he's been out and I'm gonna take him one of the you-know-whats that I just got," Kalil says, referring to a cigar of a certain Caribbean origin available in a country to the north of the United States. When he is home, Kalil smokes less, but sees his family more.

"You can't smoke at work, obviously. You know, there's just no place to smoke. And in our business we're hanging around covering sports all day long. And I work nights so I don't get home until after midnight," Kalil says. "There's no time, and in the summer I wanna get up and play with the kids and hang out with them." So he tries to spend about an hour and a half midday on Thursday and Friday at his favorite cigar store.

Miami's Tony Segreto, the anchor of WTVJ-NBC's evening news and sports, finds cigars are no trouble at all. In south Florida he has a lot of options, thanks to a Latin culture that more readily accepts cigar smoking.

"I'll give you a perfect example," Segreto says. "I've tried a lot of different cigars. There are times when I'll go on the Internet and I'm talking with people and we'll talk cigars and they're talking to me from Montana, Washington, D.C., Washington state, various parts of the country, and the demand for cigars is higher than the supply. And I listen to these people--they can't get this, they can't get that. We don't experience that in south Florida when you consider that the majority of cigars are Dominican and Nicaraguan or Honduran. Everything seems to be here," he says without bragging.

Segreto has a new favorite. "I've found something that I've fallen in love with and it's not even on the market yet," he says. "I've been smoking it for three months. It's the most delicious cigar I've ever had and the only way I'm able to have it is if I'm here. Havana Republic. It is as close to the perfect cigar for me, for my taste, as I've ever had." Segreto, who grew up watching one of his Italian uncles enjoy a cigar after Sunday family meals, also enjoys Padron Aniversarios, La Gloria Cubanas and Macabis.

Down in Texas, Ashleigh Banfield gets up each morning at 3:30 to appear on KDFW's morning news in Dallas. Banfield is a little more aware then some of her fellow journalists of how her viewers might react to her newfound taste for cigars, but her concern is tempered by the fact that the cigar scene in Dallas is growing.

"It's big. Bigger and bigger every day," says Banfield, a Canadian native, saying that a lot of people smoke cigars because it's trendy. "It's very much an image-boosting habit for a lot of people here, I think." Yet she is still a bit reticent about too much cigar exposure. "I'm a public figure here; who knows how some people will take it." (She declined to be photographed for this article.)

Banfield, who began anchoring in Dallas about a year ago, took up cigars at about the same time as an alternative to cigarettes and says she smokes them only "socially," generally after dinner. She also looks forward to her visits back home.


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