It’s unusual enough for a television news anchor to be missing in action during the February sweeps. But to be off the grid for election night coverage is practically against the law.
Rob Stafford was nowhere to be seen Tuesday during coverage of Chicago’s mayoral election on WMAQ-Channel 5, which was anchored by Allison Rosati and Dick Johnson.
Except for one night, Stafford has been absent since February 9 from the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts he co-anchors with Rosati, according to a spokeswoman for the NBC-owned station.
“Our puppy went one way. My ankle went the other,” Stafford wrote on Facebook February 15, explaining the injury that resulted in several broken bones and two surgeries on his ankle. He’s still at home recovering.
Stafford, 56, did turn up on the air one night last week — which proved to be too soon. “I overestimated my ability to bounce back from ankle surgery,” he wrote. “Apparently I’m not 25 anymore. Or 35, 45, 55 etc.”
A spokeswoman said Stafford is expected back this week, although no date has been set for his return. “He’s taking it one day at a time,” she said.
A former Chicago-based correspondent for “Dateline NBC,” Stafford joined NBC 5 in 2007 and was promoted to main anchor in 2009. He previously worked as a general assignment reporter at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.