The end of a 51/2-year road is near for NBC10 traffic reporter

John Ogden

, whose final day calling gaper delays will be Dec. 19.

Ogden, 27, who won the job at NBC10 in a 2003 contest called "The Best Summer Gig Ever," had told the station and Traffic.com during negotiations that he wanted to pursue other opportunities.

"It was solely my decision to leave," he told me, calling the impending departure amicable. He didn't say what's next. A station rep said no replacement had been inked; Jillian Mele, Jayne Laychak and Tamara Vostok would fill in.

Ogden said working at NBC10 was "an awesome experience. As a kid growing up in Northeast Philly watching the local news, I always thought one day I might be the one in front of the camera."

A restaurant gift

Every holiday season, well-meaning folks buy restaurant gift certificates for friends - who promptly stuff them in a drawer to await a special occasion. Which so often comes after the restaurant has gone out of business.

In a stroke of public relations genius (luring Pennsylvanians over the bridges), about two dozen eateries in the South Jersey Independent Restaurant Association will give 50 percent credit, up to $50, on valid gift certificates from closed Philly-area restaurants.

The only catch to this "SJ Hot Chefs Gift Certificate Bailout Plan" is that the restaurants had to be in business on Nov. 1. It's a short list right now, as this is the busiest time of the year.

Given the economy, "unfortunately there will probably be more closings," says the group's Fred Kellermann, who owns Elements Cafe in Haddon Heights. Details are at www.sjhotchefs.com.

Media notes

Eleven-year WKXW talker

Judi Franco

has bowed out as

Dennis Malloy's

midday cohost at Trenton station WKXW (101.5). Malloy is now paired with

Michele Pilenza

. A station rep said the parting at the end of Franco's contract was mutual; Franco did not reply to my message.

Michelle Jerson

, who's done traffic for CW Philly, NBC10 and Fox29, now hosts Pilenza's

Late Hours

show.

To clarify my item Tuesday about the layoff of 950ESPN general manager Bob DeBlois: One man does run the sports-talker, and that's John Fullam - who also oversees Greater Media's four other Philly stations.

The circuit

Impromptu jam session at Joe Palombo's Mirabella Cafe in Cherry Hill last week: CBS3's

Beasley Reece

played keyboard and sang, jazz style, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer";

Kenny Jeremiah

and

Charlie Ingui

, two of the original

Soul Survivors

;

Al Rinaldi

, CEO of Jacobs Music; and 12-year-old singer

Rocco Fiorentino

.

While Ed Rendell hosted 32 governors at dinner Monday at City Tavern on the eve of the National Governors Association conclave, California's Arnold Schwarzenegger instead shared stogies with his old buddy Harry Jay Katz of East Falls. Katz, who palled around with the muscleman/actor in the 1970s and went to his 1986 wedding to Maria Shriver, says Schwarzenegger called him as his plane landed and ordered him to find a cigar bar. An hour later, Katz and girlfriend Debra Renee Cruz watched Schwarzenegger step out of a Hummer in front of Mahogany (1524 Walnut St.). Katz picked up Schwarzenegger's two Courvoisier XOs at $23 each.

Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com. See his blog, "The Insider," at http://go.philly.com/insider.