10 Connects news director Darren Richards leaving for a Tampa PR firm
Staffers at St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10 -- also known as 10 Connects -- learned today that news director Darren Richards will be leaving the station at the end of October for a job as vice president at Tucker/Hall communications, a Tampa public relations firm.
Richards, 42, has worked at WTSP for five years and for station owner Gannett Co. for 19 years.
When an executive leaves a TV station suddenly, cynics immediately expect one of two things: the person was forced out, or they left knowing the end was coming. But Richards insisted his leaving wasn't expressing any doubts about the future of local TV journalism or his own future at Gannett.
"This is just about everything adding up and being right for me," said Richards. "It's a big move -- the end of a 23-year TV career. But I'm ready fora new challenge."
Over the past year, WTSP has let go of several longtime faces, including weather forecaster Randy Rauch and anchor Marty Matthews, while hiring new morning anchor Keith Jones and morning traffic reporter Danielle Saar. Gannett has forced its employees to take unpaid days off twice this year, and all the new resources for WTSP's morning show have not yet brought big ratings gains.
Station general manager Ken Tonning, who originally hired Richards into the Gannett company 19 years ago, could not say who would replace Richards, noting that he has agreed to stay through most of the start of this fall's new network TV season.
Click below to read the release from Tucker/Hall:
TV News Director Joins One of Florida’s Leading Public Relations Firms
Darren Richards of WTSP-TV will serve as Vice President of Tucker/Hall
Tampa, Fla. (September 10, 2009) – Tucker/Hall, Inc. has hired Darren Richards as Vice President. Richards will be leaving his position as news director at Tampa Bay’s WTSP-TV/10 Connects.
“I’m sad to leave my friends and colleagues in this great newsroom,” said Richards. “We’ve built a terrific team that I’m sure will continue to be successful. I’m also excited about this new opportunity to help organizations communicate more effectively. The Tucker/Hall team is first class.”
Throughout his career, Richards has been recognized with multiple Emmy, Edward R. Murrow, Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalist awards. The WTSP-TV/10 Connects newsroom was consistently the most honored newsroom in Florida under Richards' leadership. Richards has been with the station nearly five years. Prior to that, he was news director at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina – one of the strongest CBS affiliates in the country. In his 23 year professional news career, Richards worked in excellent newsrooms across the country, including two other Florida TV stations, WTLV-TV in Jacksonville and WINK-TV in Ft. Myers.
“Darren will bring to our clients the perspective of running a major newsroom,” said Bill Carlson, President of Tucker/Hall. “While at 10 Connects he helped lead the effort to take the newsroom online and into social media. That experience of creating interactive relationships with the public is incredibly valuable to our clients these days – especially in the changing media environment.”
Tucker/Hall is a communications consulting firm that offers public relations services in the areas of strategic communications, public affairs and crisis communications. Founded in 1990, Tucker/Hall has built a statewide, national and international practice from its Tampa base. The firm works with Fortune 500 corporations, fast growing companies, non profit organizations and government agencies.