WFLA-Ch. 8 says goodbye to Alicia Roberts, hello to Leslee Lacey in morning traffic
Longtime morning traffic reporter Alicia Roberts said goodbye to the crew at WFLA-Ch. 8 this morning, paving the way for the start Friday of new hire Leslee Lacey (right), a TV and radio reporter who has appeared on local cable newschannel Bay News 9 and WQYK-FM.
Lacey joins the morning crew in a slightly different position. Where Roberts was an employee of the service Traffic.com who was also paid by WFLA to do extra work, her successor will have a reduced role on the morning show, hired solely as a part-time station employee to do traffic reporting.
Roberts (left) had a higher profile, sitting with the show's main host and weather forecaster on the anchor desk, turning feature reports for the newscasts and occasionally filling in as a substitute anchor. She provided a bit of continuity as WFLA was transitioning from longtime morning anchor Gayle Guyardo to the current anchor, Rod Carter.
And although she originally announced plans to leave the show in September, Roberts has remained on the show until her contract ended today. The former Miss Philadelphia has started an executive media relations coaching and crisis management business, AliciaRobertsCo.com, capitalizing on her experience at WFLA, HSN, Shop NBC and elsewhere.
WFLA still has one hire left for its morning show; a co-anchor to join Carter on the anchor desk. News director Don North said the station hopes to have a hire in place by the start of November's "sweeps" ratings period Oct. 28, but stressed that they are moving slowly to ensure the best person is chosen.
The morning show has seen its ratings dip amid increased competition from beefed-up morning shows on rivals WFTS-Ch. 28 and WTSP-Ch. 10, along with the departure of longtime viewer favorites Guyardo and Bill Ratliff over the past 16 months.
"Whoever we have in that position, we're going to be living with them for a long time," North said of the new co-anchor. "It's a very competitive time period, so we have to make the right choice."