Kathy Fountain leaves Tampa's Fox 13, ending a classic talk show and the market's longest anchor partnership
At 10:30 a.m. this morning, Fountain taped the very last segment of "Your Turn," the 35-minute talk show she's hosted within the noon news for 12 years. It was a retrospective tribute, taped in advance with Russell Rhodes, the morning anchor who will take over a much-shortened 15-minute "Your Turn" on Dec. 31, necessitated by Fountain's decision to leave the local TV news game after 24 years.
Surrounded by about a dozen longtime guests, family members and friends, Fountain talked with Rhodes about the high and low points in her longtime gig, from watching eccentric 70-something performer Eartha Kitt do a handstand on her anchor desk to getting a pie in the face while taping her self-named talk show years ago.
They even touched on the moment last year when a caller used the n-word in reference to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, prompting the station to end live phone calls, which were not on any broadcast delay, in favor of reading emails.
I wrote a feature story for Sunday's newspaper about the landmark on and off-air partnership which will be disrupted by her move; Fountain and 5 p.m. anchor partner Denise White have worked together for nearly 20 years -- setting each other up with the men they would eventually marry and forging the kind of friendship which has survived marriages, relatives deaths and much more.
Fountain's memories with Rhodes were bracketed by pre-taped well wishes from frequent guests -- I didn't make the cut, but pop culture journalism mastermind Sean Daly did with a cheeky joke about he and Fountain's history back in the 1980s. Watch the show on Dec. 30 for Sean's sidesplitting aside.
She won't be broadcasting any new your turns before the end of the year -- she's off work now until her last day Dec. 31. But the finale taped today airs Dec. 30, including a heartfelt farewell speech from Fountain herself.
Thanks to the sad shape of economy and media, we've seen a lot of anchor farewells this year, from Fox 13's Howard Shapiro and Fountain's own husband Frank Robertson to WFLA-Ch. 8's Bill Ratliff and even ABC anchor Charles Gibson. But Fountain's goodbye today was a uniquely touching moment, as someone who made a point of being quietly curious, inclusive and intelligent -- rare commodities in today's noise-filled media landscape.