Gayle Guyardo quitting WFLA-Ch. 8 to start new talk show with Shark Tank star Kevin Harrington
Morning newscaster Gayle Guyardo is resigning from Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8 at the end of February to develop a hybrid entertainment/advertorial daytime TV show with Clearwater-based infomercial king Kevin Harrington.
Guyardo, who has worked at WFLA since 1993, said she has been developing the concept for about a year with Harrington, now appearing on ABC's unscripted show about entrepreneurs called Shark Tank.
Their show, tentatively scheduled to launch in September, has the working title Access: Gayle.
In another surprise, WFLA will replace Guyardo with Rod Carter, a former reporter and fill-in anchor who left the station in 2007 for a morning anchor job in Birmingham, Ala.
The concept is still in development, but Guyardo hopes the new show will balance feature stories on projects associated with Harrington's company with stories on interesting subjects she finds on her own. Harrington is the businessman behind products such as workout guru Tony Little's fitness gear and the Flo Bee haircutting attachment.
"We're going to try and blend our two worlds together...Kevin's a marketing genius and I have a passion for telling people's stories," said Guyardo, who had to turn down an automatic, yearlong extension of her contract at WFLA to take on this new concept. Her last day anchoring the station's morning show is Feb. 26.
"I don't want to be like Katie Couric...I don't know in my heart that I fit that evening news role," said Guyardo, who cited spending more time with her children and a more regular work schedule as two inspirations for trying this new venture. "I understand that I'm walking away from a popular show with lots of viewership...(but) I'm going to take a leap of faith."
Harrington said the show speaks to the changing business model of daytime television. At a moment when heavyweights such as Oprah Winfrey and Tyra Banks are closing down their syndicated shows, programs featuring a mix of paid and unpaid subjects may be the new model, he said.
But isn't Harrington trying to buy the credibility Guyardo established over 17 years at WFLA?
"Ultimately, it does boil down to the credibility of the person, whether they're Rachael Ray or Gayle Guyardo," he said. "Eighty percent of our customers tend to be women, in the mid-40s age range. If they can identify with the person that's interviewing and recommending these products...well, that's Gayle Guyardo."
Harrington points to product placement in unscripted shows such as Celebrity Apprentice and Biggest Loser as inspirations, along with WFLA's mid-morning show Daytime and WTSP-Ch. 10's Studio 10 -- both local talk show which combine guests who have paid to appear with those who have not.
"When you watched Gayle on the morning news, you saw someone who was willing to get out there and play with products," he said, "That's what our business is all about; demonstration."
The anchor's move comes at an interesting time for local television and WFLA. The station typically competes with Fox station WTVT-Ch. 13 for dominance in mornings, and relied on Guyardo as sole anchor when her longtime partner Bill Ratliff retired in June.Guyardo, a Plant High School graduate who hopes to cut a deal for WFLA to air her show locally, said she would offer a cheaper alternative for stations trying to offer unique daytime programming but unable to afford the high cost of programs featuring big stars.
"A big star costs big money," she said,. "I'm not looking at this to get rich. This is me trying to figure out how to stay in a business I love and think outside the box."