WFTS-Ch. 28 anchor John Thomas moves to mornings for new weekend newscasts
Tampa's ABC affiliate has named weekend anchor John Thomas (right) as the face leading its new weekend morning newscast, joined by longtime reporter Bill Logan as the morning meteorologist and newcomer Ellen McNamara as co-anchor. The newscasts begin April 4.
It may be a sign of the times that the two biggest names leading WFTS-Ch. 28's new newscasts are existing staffers pulled from other duties.
Thomas has anchored the evening newscasts at WFTS for years, and Logan has filled in as a forecaster occasionally; he also was a weather forecaster at WTOG-Ch. 44 and WTSP-Ch. 10 many years ago. McNamara (left), a traffic reporter at Austin, Texas, NBC affiliate KXAN-TV, is the daughter of retired CBS News reporter Bob McNamara.
The change also means longtime reporter/anchor Sarina Fazan will anchor the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. weekend newscasts alone.
Not many stations are adding newscasts these days, and industry experts wondered how WFTS might manage staffing two new broadcasts at a time when the crashing economy is forcing competitors to cut salaries and staffers.
WFTS' parent company, E.W. Scripps Co., announced last month it would cut some salaries by up to 5 percent, suspend its 401(K) matching contributions and freeze pensions later in the year.
But WFTS is moving ahead with the morning newscasts, matching its competitors on weekend morning for the first time in the news department's 15-year history.
On Saturdays the local broadcast will air from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., with Good Morning America starting at 9 a.m.
On Sundays, the local broadcast airs from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., GMA airs from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. and the local broadcast kicks in again from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., with This Week with George Stephanopoulos airing at 9 a.m. -- one hour earlier than currently.
Anchor Brendan McLaughlin's political show Flashpoint will be reduced to a five-minute interview segment airing just before 9 a.m.
Click below to read a memo to WFTS employees about the anchor lineup:
As we enter the final countdown to the launch of the Weekend Morning News, I am exciting to tell you about the team that will make our new newscast a huge success! It does not get any better than this.
John Thomas will anchor the weekend morning news. His knowledge of Tampa Bay, his rock-solid performance in the anchor chair, his wit, and his sense of humor are the perfect combination to help us establish our new news beachhead. John will continue to report three days a week.
Bill Logan will handle the weather – and more -- on weekend mornings. We all know that Bill can do it all, and we plan on taking advantage of that! Bill will report three days a week. You can bet we’ll continue to ask him to fill-in on other newscasts.
Sarina Fazan will solo anchor the weekend 6pm and 11pm broadcasts. Our weekend viewers already know and trust Sarina. Her strong journalism and ability to connect with viewers will help the evening team continue to grow audience. Sarina will report weekdays as well.
Ellen McNamara will join ABC Action News and join John on the weekend morning anchor desk. Many of you met Ellen when she visited us from Austin a few days ago. She’s a strong reporter and a strong communicator. I know everyone will like her, and she’ll be a great addition to the Action News team. Ellen will report during the week.
Many of you have met Marv Tarver who started this week. He’s the EP of the broadcast. He’s currently hanging-out at the desk near the door to the design department. Stop by and say hello. As Kerri already announced, Vicky Benchimol and Rachel Weinstein will be joining the weekend morning team in a few days. We’re also looking for a non-traditional live talent to handle the community remotes on the Saturday broadcast.
One other thing. We have had many discussions about our commitment to expand our local news gathering. We have just posted the job of Managing Editor for ABC Action News. This person will be the guru for all our coverage on all platforms – the person in charge of all content. This is a huge position for us, perhaps the most critical position as we grow, improve and evolve.