Reporter Warren Elly to leave Tampa Fox station WTVT-Ch. 13 in July after nearly 29 years
Even while talking about slowing down and retiring, WTVT-Ch. 13 reporter Warren Elly can't help using kinetic words full of energy and action.
"I've always been a daily news reporter; all I've ever done is turn and burn," said Elly, who first started work at WTVT in 1982. "I gotta get out of the grind. It's time to slow down."
Elly, who joins Ch. 10 reporter Mike Deeson as the area's longest-tenured street reporters on local TV, will leave the daily news chasing business come July 5, just short of 29 years at WTVT and after nearly 40 years in journalism overall. (Read Times columnist Sue Carlton's moving tribute to Elly here.)
He said the decision was his idea, sparked by recently turning 60 and realizing he was still obsessing over stories at a time when many are finding more fulfilling ways to spend their golden years (a little prodding from wife Lona didn't hurt).
As Carlton noted in her column, Elly is among the last of a vanishing breed in local TV news; old enough to remember when they used actual film in cameras and had enough people in a newsroom to cover beats and have bureaus. But energetic enough to chase down a crime or cops story and push hard until he got every fact needed.
Elly's early jobs were in radio, working in Washington D.C. and New Hampshire before jumping to TV as a reporter for WCSG in Portland Maine. He came to Tampa from WYTV in Youngstown, Ohio, where his reporting on corruption had led to the indictment of a local sheriff.
Long known for his coverage of the space shuttle launches -- Elly estimates he's seen more than 120 of them -- he also helped bring viewers to WTVT when it switched from CBS affiliation to Fox in the mid '90s, offering coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial from Los Angeles which turned into a yearlong project.
Elly still hopes to help out WTVT occasionally, leveraging his years of experiences and contacts in law enforcement, politics and the space program to help the Tv station he still calls his second home.
"This place has been my life; this is my family here," he said. "I don't really feel like I'm leaving."