Retired WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Bill Ratliff comes back to TV...on rival WTSP-Ch. 10
Former WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Bill Ratliff, who retired at Tampa's NBC affiliate last year after the station proposed cutting back his work hours and salary, will return to local TV as an analyst for 2010 election coverage.
But he's doing it for rival CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10.
The move makes sense: Ratliff built up a tremendous amount of viewer loyalty during 12 years as an anchor on WFLA's morning show and 27 years' total at the station. Long before he took that job, he spent a year covering the 1986 race for the U.S. Senate between Bob Graham and Paula Hawkins.
"The one thing I know about Florida politics, is that no one is an expert," said Ratliff, 61. "But a couple of people over here recommended me, they called and now I'm really excited to get back to it."
Ratliff said he had no non-compete contract clause keeping him from work at other stations when he left WFLA last year. But he needed time to decompress after 12 years of rising at 3 a.m. to work the morning shift. "If (WFLA) had called, I probably would have said yes to them.," he added. "But they never did."
WTSP news director Pete Roghaar said Ratliff will make his first appearance today, in their 5:30 p.m. newscast, and is expected to appear two to three times each week over the next three months. Right now, he'll be talking over political issues inside the studio; Roghaar hopes if the next three months go well, it may be the beginning of a long-term association which could last at least until the GOP convention comes to Tampa in 2012.
"Bill has a lot of equity in this market," said the news director, who said he called Ratliff to ask if he'd be interested in working at WTSP. "It's great to have somebody like that at your beck and call in an important election season."
This development marks another interesting twist in the evolution of local TV in the current economic climate. With a fair number of anchors retired or laid off during harsher ecomonic times -- Bill Murphy and Frank Robertson at WTVT-Ch. 13, Al Keck at WFTS-Ch. 28, for example -- there's a pool of talent with local name recognition whose non-competes are probably running out.
Click below for WTSP's press release:
Bill Ratliff to Join 10 News Election Coverage.
St. Petersburg, FL: August 16, 2010: Veteran Tampa Bay journalist Bill Ratliff has agreed to join the 10 News team as a contributor to its in-depth coverage of the 2010 elections.
Ratliff has covered the people and events of Tampa Bay for over 27 years. He was most recently the co-anchor of WFLA-TV’s morning newscast. Over the course of those 27 years, Ratliff developed a strong reputation through his coverage of Florida and Tampa Bay politics.
“We are thrilled to have Bill join our team. He brings so much experience and so many personal connections to state and local politics,” say Peter Roghaar, Director of News and Information at 10 News.
Ratliff will join the 10 News team live in studio over the course of this year’s election campaign to provide his uniquely well-informed perspective.
10 News is the brand name for WTSP-TV, the Gannett Co, Inc. owned CBS affiliate serving the Tampa Bays Region.