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Maria Stephanos talks about joining WCVB

Maria Stephanos (second from right) joined the WCVB NewsCenter 5 news team as an evening anchor. She is pictured here with (left to right) chief meteorologist Harvey Leonard, anchor Ed harding, and sports anchor Mike Lynch.
Faith Ninivaggi Photo
Maria Stephanos (second from right) joined the WCVB NewsCenter 5 news team as an evening anchor. She is pictured here with (left to right) chief meteorologist Harvey Leonard, anchor Ed harding, and sports anchor Mike Lynch.

Maria Stephanos’ contract at Fox 25 was ending, and she was about to turn 50. She knew she was ready to try something new after nearly 18 years at the station.

She says she was lucky enough to have interest from a number of places – here in Boston, and out of state – after she left Fox 25’s anchor desk in September.

Her heart, she says, told her two things. She wanted to stay in the market. And she wanted to work for WCVB Channel 5, the station that she watched growing up in Groveland, back when co-anchors Chet Curtis and Natalie Jacobson were known in many homes as simply “Chet and Nat.”

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Now “Maria” is a household name around Boston as well. WCVB-TV general manager Bill Fine recognizes this, of course. Stephanos says she had made it clear to Fine over the years that she would consider working there, if the right opportunity opened up at the right time. When Stephanos left her Fox 25 gig, Fine took her up on the offer.

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Fine says it was simply a happy coincidence that he was planning to expand his evening news programs – he added a 7 p.m. newscast last month – just as Stephanos’ contract wrapped up at Fox 25. She’ll co-anchor WCVB’s 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. news shows with Ed Harding, and she’ll anchor a soon-to-be-launched 10 p.m. news show on WCVB sister station MeTV Boston.

She seemed giddy this week, her first at WCVB’s Needham studio, describing the fact that she’s now working at the station that she worshipped as a kid as “awesome.” But she’s also just excited to be back in the mix, with her first newscasts with Harding scheduled for Thursday night. Once a news junkie, always a news junkie.

“Now I can take those tips I’ve been getting for the past four months and bring them somewhere,” Stephanos says, “instead of just reading them at night at the kitchen table to my kids.”

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.