Investigative reporter Alan Cohn is third high-profile personality to leave ABC Action News
For nearly three years, investigative reporter Alan Cohn has uncovered attention-getting news stories for Tampa ABC station WFTS-Ch. 28, from asking questions about players' residential status which could cost Armwood High School its state football championship to revealing the existence of an undisclosed vacation home owned by the wife of then-Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman.
But there’s one mystery Cohn can’t solve for the public: Why he was let go by WFTS on Thursday, months before his contract would expire in August.
“I can’t say what happened,” said Cohn, who came the WFTS in 2009 from WTNH-TV in Connecticut. “All I know is, I’m very proud of what I’ve done at Channel 28. I never broke as many big stories anywhere as I did at that station.”
Rich Pegram, the general manager at ABC Action News, declined to comment on the reasons for Cohn’s departure, citing “personnel issues.”
But Cohn is the third high-profile personality to leave the station in recent weeks, from street reporter Don Germaise, who retired at the end of May at 53 years old, to morning weather forecaster Stephanie Roberts, who was fired with no public explanation in early May.
Cohn's dismissal was surprising, given the station's focus on the work of its I-Team, featured prominently in on screen ads and news broadcasts - especially during important ratings periods.
Pegram brushed aside rumors of low morale at the station or notions that the departures might be linked, while declining to comment specifically on Roberts or Cohn’s cases. He also noted the station could name a replacement for Roberts in the next two weeks.
“We’ve having more success as a TV station and we’ve just had the best May (sweeps ratings) in a long time,” said the general manager, noting the station scored top rating at 11 p.m. during that period. “I think we’ve made smart decisions.”
Cohn, who will be paid by WFTS until his contract ends, hopes to remain in the Tampa Bay area, though he could not detail possible future plans.
“I don’t regret (moving to the Tampa Bay area) for a minute,” said Cohn, who had spent eight years at WTNH before coming south. “”We did some great work here.”