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Tampa-St. Petersburg

Meteorologist Bryan Bennett Joins WFLA

Meteorologist Bryan Bennett is joining WFLA, the NBC affiliate in Tampa-St. Petersburg.

Bennett comes from New York, where he was executive weather producer and chief meteorologist at CBS-owned WCBS. He also managed weather graphics content for 14 other CBS stations. Before that, he worked at WSB, the ABC affiliate in Atlanta, for five years.

Bennett will be the meteorologist for the weekend morning newscasts and the noon newscast. He begins at WFLA on May 25.

WFTS News Truck Goes Up In Flames

A news van for Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS caught fire “for no apparent reason.”

Photojournalist Tony Jacobson and reporter Ryan Raiche escaped the Dodge Sprinter van without injury. Raiche posted a photo of the burned out van (pictured) on his facebook page with the caption, “Is it bad luck if your the last guy to go live from a sat truck before it burns to a crisp? RIP Sprinter.”

Reporter Ashley Glass also posted a photo of the van, this time in what appears to be mid-burn, on her company facebook page. “One of our big boy live trucks caught fire (for no apparent reason) in Lakeland, FL. ” Glass added, “RIP to the Sprinter, the only truck with enough counter space for my entire “get ready” spread. Survived by Tony Jacobson and Ryan Raiche.” You can see the photo Glass posted after the jump.

TVSpy reached out to WFTS for more info.  We’ll update if we hear back.

Read more

Former WFLA Reporter, News Director Dies

Former WFLA news director Joe Mannion has died after a long battle with renal cancer, according to The Tampa Tribune. He was 79.

Mannion joined the Tampa NBC affiliate as a reporter in the mid 1960s and was named news director in 1979. He left the station in 1983 and became a lobbyist for Pasco County, a position he held until he retired in 2009.

“Joe was ultimate newsman,” longtime friend Joe Davis told the Tampa Tribune. “He trained in Washington along with the Huntleys and the Brinkleys and the others that the younger guys these days don’t know.” [h/t TVNewsCheck]

Tampa Meteorologist Shoots Footage of Mysterious Lights Over City

Tampa meteorologist Brooks Garner recently recorded some footage while walking his dog that shows unexplained lights flying in what appears to be formation over the skies of Tampa.

Garner, the meteorologist for Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA, is leaving for Houston CBS affiliate KHOU in May. He told TVSpy, “What was it? I can’t say for sure. I speculate it was of a very ‘terrestrial’ origin — probably Chinese floating lanterns — but I was too far away to be sure… ”

The station posted the video to its website and to its facebook page to hear what viewers had to say about the sighitng. Some viewers were wary of WFLA’s news judgement saying “I do worry when “news” agencies post stuff like this. I assume it is tongue in cheek” while many others supported the Chinese lantern theory.

Garner added, “I don’t think it’s much of a story — but it did make for an interesting evening dog walk.”

CNN Latino Expands to Four More Markets

CNN Latino, the syndicated Spanish language programming block made for the U.S. Hispanic market, is expanding to New York, Phoenix, Orlando and Tampa.

“We are so fortunate to be in a strategic partnership with TMA-TIG and their first group of stations, which will allow for a rapid expansion of the CNN Latino branded programming block across the east coast of the U.S., and to have a relationship with Lotus Communications in their heritage Phoenix station,” said Cynthia Hudson senior vice president and general manager of CNN en Español and Hispanic Strategy. “We believe that CNN Latino programming is a great alternative to the current offering of Hispanic broadcast content in the U.S.”

The stations picking up the programming are WBQM-LD Channel 3 in New York, WATV Channel 47 in Orlando, WTAM Channel 30 in Tampa and Phoenix low power station KPHE Channel 44. In addition to its Los Angeles station, CNN Latino now reaches nearly a quarter of Latino households nationwide. Read more

Tampa’s WFLA Adds Midday Newscast

WFLA, the NBC affiliate in Tampa-St. Petersburg, is launching an 11:30 a.m. newscast on Monday.

Natalie Shepherd will anchor the half-hour newscast. WFLA’s entertainment and lifestyle show, “Daytime,” will move to 10 a.m., replacing the station’s current 10 a.m. newscast.  “Extra” will move to 11 a.m.

Rod Carter and Gayle Guyardo, the 10 a.m. anchors, will continue to anchor the morning newscast. Morning meteorologist Leigh Spann will “continue her weather coverage throughout the day,” according to a statement from WFLA.

Meteorologist Megan Hatton Leaving WFLA

Megan Hatton, the weekend morning meteorologist at WFLA, is leaving Tampa NBC affiliate and moving to Houston.

Hatton is joining her husband, a director at ABC O&O KTRK, in Texas. She joined WFLA in 2007 as a weather producer and fill-in meteorologist.

“WFLA was Megan’s first on-air weathercasting job, and she has grown enormously in that role. I know she’s going to join her husband in Houston, but if I was a news director there with a need for an accomplished meteorologist, I would hire her,” WFLA news director Don North said in a statement.

Hatton is the second WFLA meteorologist to announce her departure for Houston this week. Brooks Garner is joining KHOU.

Stan Gill Named VP-GM of WTOG in Tampa

Stan Gill is the new vice president and general manager of WTOG, the CBS-owned CW affiliate in Tampa-St. Petersburg.

Gill joins WTOG March 14 after 14 years with ACME Communications. He has been the company’s COO since 2010 and President and COO since 2012. He served as VP-GM of ACME’s KWBQ-KASY in Albuquerque from 2006-12.

“Stan is an outstanding local station operator who is extremely well suited to lead WTOG given all the success he has had running multiple CW stations,” CBS Television Stations president Peter Dunn said in a statement. “We look forward to having him join the talented group of employees we have at WTOG and oversee the continuing growth of one of the top CW affiliates in the country.”

Gill replaces Laura Caruso, who is departing the station to pursue other opportunities, according to CBS. Read more

John Rogers Joins WFLA From WALA

John Rogers is joining WFLA, the NBC affiliate in Tampa-St. Petersburg. He will be a reporter covering Manatee and Sarasota counties.

“Sarasota and Manatee counties are important areas of coverage for News Channel 8. And, we think it’s vital to have a reporter who actually lives in the area where he works,” news director Don North said in a statement. “John will live in Sarasota, where he’ll have the opportunity to really get to know the community.”

Since 2009, Rogers has been a reporter at WALA, the Fox affiliate in Mobile, Ala. Prior to that, he worked at WCTV in Tallahassee.

WTSP General Manager Announces Retirement

Ken Tonning, general manager for Tampa CBS affiliate WTSP has announced plans to step down in July, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Tonning came to the Tampa CBS affiliate four year ago, making changes along the way that may have pushed the edge of traditional journalism. “You’ve got to make sure you’re providing information the way viewers want,” Tonning told the Times. “It’s that kind of stepping out and getting noticed that makes a difference.”

The 68-year-old general manager is credited with returning the station to its “10 News” brand, adding a more in-your-face style of reporting reminiscent of the style seen in South Florida, and adding a 9:00 a.m. newscast focused on issues important to women. Read more

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