Pittsburgh anchor Keith Jones hired as morning news co-anchor at CBS station WTSP-Ch. 10
So Keith Jones is acutely aware of his luck in snagging a morning co-anchor job at WTSP-Ch. 10 in St. Petersburg -- a market nine sizes larger and more than a few degrees warmer than his current home, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.
Jones, 37, is tentatively scheduled April 15 to take a spot alongside longtime morning anchor Ginger Gadsden -- who has been leading the broadcast as the sole news anchor since partner Mario Diaz left journalism last June to join Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.
"I think they went through a number of candidates last year and kept coming back to me," said Jones, who will move from the 22nd largest market in Pittsburgh to the 13th-largest market, the Tampa Bay area. "I think they thought I was somebody who could handle all the various aspects of the show they wanted to put together. I feel incredibly blessed."
Jones nearly ended his career back in 2006, when he got in a serious car accident while drinking and driving, flipping his Jeep several times and breaking his own arm. Police said his blood alcohol content was measured at 0.137 percent -- above Pennsylvania'a legal limit of 0.08 percent.
The anchor spent two months off the air, returning in June 2006 with an apology for viewers, saying, "I made a decision that will affect me for the rest of my life...that left me seriously injured, and more importantly, put my family and all the other families on the road that night at terrible risk," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper.
Jones said the incident had no impact on his decision to leave Pittsburgh. "It happened three years ago -- there was no impact on employment," said Jones, who said he learned a bitter lesson from the arrest and attendant publicity. "It was a horrible, horrible mistake."
WTSP spokesman Pete Nikiel said they hired Jones because "when you're talking about a two-hour shift, it looks a little lonely for one anchor on a show that long. I guess you could say we had an exhaustive search."
A graduate of Barry University in Miami Shores, Jones played NCAA baseball there and eventually went to work at WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach, spending about six years in the Sunshine State before leaving for jobs in Toledo, Charleston, W. Va. and two stints at different Pittsburgh TV stations, WPXI and KDKA.
Moving here with his wife Gina and two daughters, Jones knows he'll face challenges -- from WTSP's historic ratings problems in mornings to owner Gannett's request that all employees take a week of unpaid days off by July.
But the anchor insists he's ready. "I love a challenge, and that's how I see this," he said. "Besides, it's pleasure to go to a station's adding resources as opposed to the vast majority these days cutting back."