CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Regular viewers of WCHS-TV Eyewitness News welcomed a new guest into their homes earlier in December. The station's newest reporter, Stefano DiPietrantonio, a Wheeling native, is relishing in his long-awaited homecoming.
"Having lived all over the world now, I have such an appreciation for what we have," DiPietrantonio said. "I've always appreciated West Virginia."
The ABC affiliate is planning to launch a 5 p.m. newscast in early 2014. While WCHS hasn't announced officially the 5 p.m. broadcast's main talent, DiPietrantonio is enthusiastic about the new program.
"I'm excited to put my own stamp on a new broadcast," DiPietrantonio said.
The 47-year-old news veteran has had what he calls "a gypsy career" as a journalist, model and singer-songwriter.
"All of these things have come together to help. ... I'm not afraid of too much," DiPietrantonio said.
DiPietrantonio spent 10 of his 25 years in news doing the weather. Most recently, he was the third anchor on a 5 p.m. newscast for Fox in Tampa Bay.
"I was the guy out there swinging on the zip line live, poll dancing live," he said. "I was that guy doing all that nutty stuff."
But DiPietrantonio -- often called Stef by those who know him -- has a serious side. He has covered many disasters throughout his career -- hurricanes, murders, families in crisis -- each, he says, more humbling than the last.
"On the worst day of [someone's] life, why they're standing there talking to me has always amazed me," DiPietrantonio said. "Why they've chosen to reveal something delicate and incredible, it always kind of blows me away."
Circumstances around DiPietrantonio's colorful life can be chalked up to fate. As a track-and-field athlete at Florida State University, a modeling gig for an annual calendar took the naïve Mountaineer to the runways of Italy for designers, such as Calvin Klein and Valentino, he said.
"I certainly was not singled out as one of their top models or anything, but I worked for a lot of famous people," DiPietrantonio said.