News anchor Todd Tongen of ABC affiliate WPLG was found dead in his South Florida home Monday. He was 56 years old.
Tongen had been a reporter, actor and weekend anchor for 36 years — signing on with WPLG December 1989, according to WPLG.
A family friend was sent to check up on Tongen by his wife, Karen, who was out of town and became concerned when she could not immediately reach him. The friend eventually called the police who found the reporter.
His cause of death is currently unknown.
Fellow WPLG hosts and others who knew Tongen responded to the news on Twitter.
— WPLG Local 10 News (@WPLGLocal10) June 3, 2019
Friends, we are beyond sad to share this news of a friend and colleague so full of life and love … so smart, talented and fun..
This is one tough day …
“Todd Tongen, beloved member of Local 10 family since 1989, dead at 56 https://t.co/jC4wj3vbrI “
— Glenna Milberg (@GlennaWPLG) June 3, 2019
We are shattered and heartbroken. Todd was so much more than a colleague. He was our friend. He was our brother & integral member of the @WPLGLocal10 news family. This has left a huge hole in our hearts. Please send love & prayers to his family. https://t.co/IXOzI2Gl3T
— Louis Aguirre (@LOUISAGUIRRE) June 3, 2019
“We are shattered and heartbroken. Todd was so much more than a colleague,” fellow anchor Louis Aguirre wrote. “He was our brother & integral member of the @WPLGLocal10 news family. This has left a huge hole in our hearts.”
“Please send love & prayers to his family,” he added.
Those who knew the Emmy Award-winning journalist say he was a favorite among viewers, known for his wit and sense of humor, according to numerous statements given to the Sun-Sentinel.
“He was so funny. Viewers loved him and so did we,” political reporter Michael Putney said.
Tongen was born in Minnesota but his media career took him all over the United States. He appeared on television first in Grand Junction, Colorado, then as a feature reporter and weatherman in Little Rock, Arkansas, according to WPLG.
Many South Florida natives know Tongen best for his “10 Taxi” segments that ran for seven years of his career.
During this segment, Tongen conducted interviews with celebrities, athletes and other media personalities while driving a classic, yellow taxi cab. He even playfully described himself as “taxi cab driver,” among other things, in his Twitter biography.
WPLG commemorated the host’s career with a video looking back on the beloved “10 Taxi” Monday morning:
“It was a concept as original as the man himself. Through the taxi, Todd shined a light on celebrities while taking viewers for a fun-filled ride that lasted seven years,” weekend co-host Neki Mohan said in the video voice-over. “Todd always said it was a highlight of his career.”
“It was always about the cause. We always said we took the news serious, but we never took ourselves seriously,” Mohan added.
Tongen is survived by his wife, Karen, and two sons, Tyler and Ryker.
CORRECTION, June 7, 2019: An earlier version of this article described WPLG as an NBC affiliate. We should have written ABC. We have corrected the description, and apologize for the error.
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