WBAY AT 70: Mary Smits and Don Carmichael

70 years of WBAY - veterans of the station remember
Updated: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:15 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - WBAY-TV went on the air on March 17, 1953. As we get ready to celebrate 70 years in broadcasting, WBAY is revisiting the people who made this station a legacy in Northeast Wisconsin.

Each week, Action 2 News will bring you a conversation with someone who made an impact on viewers during their career with WBAY. This week, we catch up with two of them -- one who worked behind the scenes and a popular news anchor who both made a difference off-camera.

Don Carmichael, our former station general manager, was dedicated to community service. He led WBAY in the 1990s and early 2000s. And Action 2 News anchor Mary Smits, part of the team for our number-one newscasts, who also gave her time to many non-profit groups.

Mary Smits came to WBAY in 1989 from another Green Bay station, pairing with Chuck Ramsay and becoming a powerhouse duo.

Mary remembers an exciting career at WBAY, recently saying that taking the shows on the road “were definitely highlights. Heading to Wittman Field in Oshkosh for live coverage of the EAA air show was always an exciting adventure.”

Mary also reported on health news and parenting topics.

She gave her time to community groups and projects: Girl Scouts, Coats for Kids, March of Dimes and telethons. “Even more rewarding was getting to know so many everyday families while hosting the Children’s Miracle Network and other telethons. They are the real heroes.”

Mary retired in 2005 after a total of 30 years in local television.

She continues a very busy schedule with family. She shared a recent picture with her husband, Greg Larsen, and their granddaughter, Skylar.

“Best wishes to the entire staff of WBAY on the occasion of this 70th anniversary. And continued success in 2023!”

While Mary was in front of the camera, former WBAY general manager Don Carmichael worked behind the curtain, taking the job in 1993 after a conversation with his wife.

“I talked with Bev about it, and we decided our real goal was to manage a middle market station in the south, and we’d never been to Wisconsin, and she said, ‘Why don’t we try it for 3-5 years.’ That is what we agreed upon, and 22½ years later I was still there,” Don laughed. “It worked out pretty well.”

Don had a passion for community service. He volunteered for many non-profits, pairing perfectly with WBAY’s commitment to community.

“I always had a strong belief that we were making a good living and a good profit out of the market then we had to give back. Part of that giving back was to support non-profits that were doing good work in the city.”

Don retired at the end of 2014 after more than two decades at WBAY. The next year, he was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

These days he’s fishing, traveling, and still volunteering.

When asked about his WBAY legacy, he points to the people.

“I guess the things that I’m most proud of is taking the station to a higher level, hiring great people, retaining some of the great people that were already there. And in the end, it was a better station than when I found, and it was full of wonderful people who could continue on.”