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WFLA-AM newsreader Martin Giles leaves the air suddenly after struggling to complete newsbreak



martin_giles_am_anchor_bio.jpgFans listening to WFLA-AM (970)’s AM Tampa Bay show this morning heard a troubling moment, which left some fans concerned they may have heard news reader Martin Giles have a stroke on the air.

The problem surfaced around 8:30 a.m., when Giles, 74, repeatedly stumbled over words in a news break, and seemed to have trouble speaking.

After struggling to pronounce relatively simple words, he called for a commercial break. Once the promotional messages concluded, Giles tried again to read copy on air but his problem seemed worse. He struggled to form words that made sense, eventually giving up and saying “Let’s move on.”

AM Tampa Bay co-host Tedd Webb began reading another promotional message as listeners could hear voices in the background talking.

Since then, some people who heard the broadcast have e-mailed the St. Petersburg Times asking if Giles had a stroke on air. There are other medical conditions which can produce similar symptoms temporarily, but Giles family has not made an official statement on what happened.

“Out of respect for Martin’s privacy, I really can’t say anything about what happened,” said Steve Versnick, program director at WFLA, who noted that several listeners have called the station in concern for Giles’ health. He said Giles did not return to work after the incident Friday, but could not say whether he would be back again. “It’s our policy not to comment.”

A woman who answered the phone at Giles’ home later in the morning said the announcer had a cold and was resting.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.

[Last modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 7:58pm]


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