Forecaster Shattuck off mornings at ABC Action News, Channel 10's Roberts in
Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS-Ch. 28 has beefed up its morning newscast with two folks who once appeared on the competition: former WTSP-Ch. 10 fill-in weather forecaster Stephanie Roberts (far left) and WTSP's former traffic reporter Meredyth Censullo.
Roberts and Censullo officially start Monday (though the traffic reporter made an appearance in this morning's newscast), joining news anchors Deiah Riley and Dan Shaffer. Station officials say their arrival is part of WFTS's effort to add some resources to its morning show, currently earning third-place ratings behind WFLA-Ch. 8 and WTVT-Ch. 13.
But the change also pushes aside two WFTS veterans, moving current morning forecaster Wayne Shattuck (pictured below) to the station's weekend evening newscasts and weekend forecaster Linda Gialanella to fill-in work, appearances on the station's digital weather channel and online.
Shattuck, 60, has worked at WFTS since 1994. Gialanella joined WFTS in 2003; previously, she had worked as a forecaster at WTSP for eight years until 2001. But WFTS general manager Rich Pegram downplayed the notion that two older staffers were seeing their roles reduced to make room for younger new hires.
"I couldn't tell you how old any of the people are (in these changes)," said Pegram, who came to WFTS in May from Indianapolis. "Age to me is irrelevant to how successful someone can be and what the audience thinks about a person. It had nothing to do with my decision."
Roberts, who once worked for WFTS owner Scripps Networks in Cleveland, has been working as a freelance forecaster in the Tampa Bay area for the last two years -- first, at WFTS and later at WTSP. She doesn't yet have a seal from the American Meteorological Society -- Pegram says she should have one in a couple of months -- but does have a certification from the National Weather Association.
"I was (WTSP's) Band-Aid when (longtime chief meteorologist) Dick Fletcher passed away earlier this year," she said. "Often, when you take a new job, you don't know what is waiting for you. But I've worked at (WFTS) so I knew exactly what I was signing up for . . . And when so many TV companies are cutting back resources, Channel 28 is adding them."
Pegram came to WFTS early this summer, replacing a general manager who resigned six months after an arrest for burglary and battery following a hit-and-run accident (charges were never filed against the official, who negotiated a resolution too late to save his job).
Bearing a reputation for boosting ratings at local TV stations, Pegram has already hired former anchor Lisette Campos as community affairs director and offers hints that his changes are far from finished.
Roberts, a thirtysomething mother of two children, ages 8 and 4, is looking forward to a schedule that still allows her to make soccer games and pick up kids after school. "For me, this is about the right job at the right time," she said. "I think they wanted a bit more energy injected into the show. And I'm glad to be a part of it."