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Here's how to land on TLC's new Southwest Airlines reality show, filming Thursday at Tampa International Airport

southwest-tlc.jpgReal reality TV fans may remember Airline, the A&E series focused on flight attendants for Southwest Airlines which aired on the channel in 2004 and 2005.

Now it seems TLC is trying something similar, filming over two multi-day stints at Tampa International Airport starting Thursday, shooting scenes for a new show titled On the Fly taking a close look at the operations of Southwest Airlines.

The show is looking for local passengers who may have a notable story about traveling on the airline, encouraging all interested parties to fill out a detailed questionnaire at According to TIA officials, the show will be filming from Thursday to Monday and from March 8 to 12.

Here's a look below at something you might see; Southwest's famous rapping flight attendant:

 Click below to see the press release from TIA:

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Fanboys (and girls) rejoice! New Avengers trailer now online!

newavengersposter.jpgForgive the girl-ish squeals coming from my corner of downtown St. Petersburg, but I have good reason.

I'm a comic book fanboy. And they just released a new trailer for this summer's The Avengers movie.

Already, The Avengers feels like the crown jewel on a summer which will feature a great roster of action/comic book/geek favorite films, including the final Dark Knight movie, the Spider Man reboot, the Bourne Identity reboot and the Hunger Games film.

But The Avengers is the cherry on this sundae; the first film to try capturing the grand scope of the geekiest comic book series, where a threat so grave faces the Earth, it takes a team of dysfunctional, costume-wearing heroes to pull everyone's fat out of the fire.

The trailer is wonderful because we get to see more of The Hulk and a hint of how the team will struggle to work together before, of course, working it all out in time to save the world.

Check the new trailer below; thoughts, as always, are welcome.


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Valrico's Jeremy Rosado sings tonight on American Idol, Tampa's Shannon Magrane sings Wednesday

shannon-magrane-300x400.jpgPeople have been saying it to her for a while now: get ready for your time on American Idol to change your life.

There’s just one problem for 16-year-old Tampa resident Shannon Magrane. It’s already happened.

"I mean, American Idol created a Twitter account for me, and when I saw it was verified I literally threw my hands up in the air and did a little happy dance," said Magrane. "People come up to me in the mall and ask about being on the show. It already has changed my life."

Magrane and Valrico resident Jeremy Rosado, 19, perform this week as part of American Idol’s Top 24 semi-finalists; the first group of singers to be judged by votes from the audience.

And what distinguishes these Tampa Bay area teens so far, beyond their skill at singing, is the attention Idol has paid them – turning them into standout contestants in the process.

Rosado sings tonight along with 11 other males selected last week and a surprise, 13th guy revealed this evening. Magrane sings Wednesday during a performance episode where viewers vote afterwards. Both shows air locally at 8 p.m. on WTVT-Ch. 13

A sophomore at Blake High School, Magrane would have gained notoriety even if her only claim to fame was judge Steven Tyler leering in her first audition that the teenage singer was “hot, humid and happening” right in front of her dad, former pro baseball player Joe Magrane.

But she’s also become a focus on the show, wowing the judges with a soulful version of the ballad “What a Wonderful World” and singing a Kelly Clarkson tune well enough that judge Jennifer Lopez claimed she got goosebumps. Fans at Blake created t-shirts with her face emblazoned with “Magrane Fame,” showing support.

“I’ve been preparing for this since day one,” said Magrane. “I want America to see I’m not just a singer, I’m a performer,” she added. “I want to inspire people and I want to be an artist.”

rosado.pngSimilar attention has fallen on Rosado, who Lopez told last week “there’s no way we wouldn’t want you” among the Top 24 singers.

Often it seems conquering nerves is the biggest challenge for Idol contestants, but Rosado said he had a special cure for that.

“For me, my faith is what pulls me through…God is my everything,” said Rosado, who serves as a worship leader in his church and sings in the choir. “I’m nervous until I finally start singing. It goes away, in that moment when I open my mouth.”

Told that St. Petersburg native Michael Lynche, who placed fourth on Idol back in 2010, advised him and Magrane not to take anything for granted while on Idol and realize “It’s that one shot which can change your life,” Rosado responded with gratitude.

“It’s wonderful to hear that and we certainly don’t take anything for granted,” said the singer, who auditioned for Idol four times before. “I’ve dreamt about being on that stage since I was 10 years old. Now, you give it all you’ve got and trust that God has it in his hands.”

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Steve Urkel, Laura Ingalls and pip-less Gladys Knight among new names on Dancing with the Stars

1330435902_dwts-467.jpgWhat you notice first when looking over the new cast of ABC's Dancing with the Stars is a glorious absence of one thing:

Reality TV stars.

Instead, ABC has turned away from the likes of The Situation and Rob Kardashian to present a more usual collection of faded past TV stars (Melissa Gilbert, Jack Wagner, Jaleel White), sports figures (Martina Navratilova, Donald Driver), singers (Gavin DeGraw, Gladys Knight, Katherine Jenkins) and youth stars (Roshan Fegan, William Levy).

Gone are the tabloidy types who may have fueled gossip magazine coverage but also helped the show feel a little more tawdry and desperate. But it remains to be seen how viewers will bond with this new crew, especially given new competition from NBC's singing contest The Voice on Monday nights.

There are no comedians or news magnets such as Chaz Bono or Nancy Grace, which may not be the smartest move, given the show crowned one of its least-known winners last cycle in wounded soldier-turned soap star J. R. Martinez.

But Dancing's demands have a way of bringing out the diva in everyone (speaking of, glad to see rumors professional dancer Maksim Chmekovskiy wouldn't return were false; his hissy fits always lift the show when things get too boring).

The cast was announced this morning on Good Morning America. The list is below.

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New Port Richey clown couple eliminated from The Amazing Race

amazingrace20_ep2a.jpgTheir bright red noses and sunny attitude couldn't save New Port Richey couple Dave and Cherie Gregg, who saw difficulties with math knock them out of the running on CBS' reality hit The Amazing Race.

daveandcherie.jpgIn the episode aired Sunday, the couple were stopped cold by a challenge in Buenos Ares, requiring each team to calculate the average weight of a head of cattle in a pen in a large market.

The most successful competitors worked together to solve the problems, but Dave Gregg, who volunteered to complete the challenge before knowing what it required, told TV Guide his dyslexia may have made it more difficult to complete the math.

The couple had already been delayed by four hours when the bus they rode from a previous challenge had a window shatter during an 18-hour ride.

"I'm laughing and crying at the same time," Cherie Gregg said on camera as the other teams completed the math challenge while her husband stood by, still calculating. "It's the tears of a clown."

Eventually, the workers at the market let all the cows leave and Dave Gregg completed the math, arriving at the show's pit stop last. Earlier, he had revealed that he was a cancer survivor, free of the disease since 2001, leaving him grateful for every moment.

The couple, married nearly 20 years, work as clowns for a program sponsored by the Ringling Bros. circus, living in New Port Richey near the circus' winter quarters.

One consolation: Because the episode aired against The Academy Awards telecast Sunday, maybe fewer people saw their ejection.

"So many thing in my life had to come together to be in this moment at my time," he said, tears welling in his eyes at the show's end. "We're the luckiest couple on Earth."


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The Oscarcast at a Glance: Eric's Academy Awards show Tweets Storified

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Regardless of how you feel about who won Oscars, there's no doubt the telecast was terrible

billycrystal.jpgFans will argue for days over the results of this years Academy Awards: Viola or Meryl? The Artist or HugoJean Dujardin or George Clooney?

But on this, there is no argument: The telecast Sunday was terrible.

Turns out, there is a reason Oscar show producers didn't talk much about what was coming before Sunday's event. Beyond the way-cool opening number, in which Clooney locked lips with host Billy Crystal during his obligatory insertion in all the Best Picture nominees, there wasn't much there to anticipate.

Many of Crystal's jokes fell flat, including a quip based on The Help which drew bucketloads of ire online: ""When I came out of The Help I wanted to hug the first black woman I saw," he cracked. "Which, in Beverly Hills, was a 45 minute drive."

reg_634.oct_.ls_.22612.jpgThe decision to give out a long string of lesser known awards at the show's start -- makeup, set design and editing among them -- meant 40 minutes passed before a high profile category was awarded -- providing viewers with plenty of incentive to bolt for an NBA game or the latest episode of The Walking Dead.

And some kind of odd auditory feedback kept popping up during the telecast. I remember a similar problem marred much of last year's broadcasts of The Voice, making the audio sound tinny and strange.

Those missteps further marred a ceremony which just felt a bit off-kilter, from Robert Downey Jr. indulging a too-long bit about filming a reality show while presenting an award and supporting actress winner Octavia Spencer being rushed offstage to make room for long montages of stars talking about why they love movies (forgive the snark, but I'm not surprised Seth Rogen wasn't able to articulate what makes a great movie).

Mostly, the long montages of past classics served to remind viewers how obscure modern Oscar nominees often are, compared to years past -- has anyone in the TV audience actually seen Best Picture winner The Artist?

And Crystal's shtick, once so freewheeling and effortlessly witty, now felt tired as some nominees looked by the time the show ended, more than 30 minutes late. (Nick Nolte, looking like a hobo wedged into an old Karl Lagerfeld tuxedo, looked like he was ready to shank somebody when Christopher Plummer won supporting actor award).

I'm not going to write the "Viola Davis was robbed" story. Thanks to the Los Angeles Times, we know old white guys do all the Oscar voting, but Meryl Streep's turn in The Iron Lady was a tour de force worthy of the honor. I just feel bad that Davis had to endure weeks of people challenging her for playing a maid in a major film, only to lose the award in a way some will use to validate their gripes about Oscar's unfairness.

I feel worse for Oscar producers, who have precious few highlights to hang their hats on in the show's aftermath.

Right about now, the original plan to have Eddie Murphy on as host doesn't look quite so bad.


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My new NPR adventure: How TV stereotypes Asians and Latinos in ways black characters have overcome

rob-2.jpgWatching a CNN story on the new CBS sitcom Rob, I leaned something interesting.

Even though star and co-creator Rob Schneider married into a Latino family before he created a sitcom for CBS with the same storyline, the relatives of his wife live in Mexico and don't speak English.

Which is perhaps the best explanation for why the Latino family on CBS' Rob feels so odd. And why some of the roles are so close to classic stereotypes about Latino people.

Made me glad I'd pulled together a commentary for NPR about how network TV sitcoms feel free to stereotype Asians and Latinos in ways they don't often attempt with black characters.

It plays off a theme I've been articulating for a week or so now, looking at how gains by African Americans in challenging how black people are depicted in news stories and TV shows doesn't seem to have helped avoid similar stereotyping of Asians and Hispanics.

Through it all, I hope people remember a few things.

2broke_han.jpg1) Stereotypes often aren't ugly. Instead, they can be funny, seductive and compelling. Ultimately, they explain the world in ways many people find comforting -- even some people of color. But they are also unfair and inaccurate.

2) Intent matters. There are classic shows such as All in the Family and Chappelle's Show which evoked and made fun of stereotypes. But a primary mission of both shows was to comment on prejudice, bigotry and cultural difference by lampooning stereotypes and people who believe in them. Sometimes, that's an important distinction.

3) Bringing up these issues doesn't cause problems, it solves them. Hard as it is to talk about these issues, its important to have discussions about portrayals, stereotyping and the impact of such images. Because putting issues on the table and talking about them is the only way you find deeper understanding.

The NPR piece is below:


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St. Petersburg native and American Idol alum Michael Lynche welcomes new son in New York City

bigmike.jpgHis voice already sounds a bit weary over the telephone, but American Idol alum and St. Petersburg native Michael Lynche was also excited while recounting the birth of his second child Tuesday in New York City.

Kingston Michael Lynche was born at 9:18 p.m. in New York Presbyterian Hospital, weighing 7 pounds and 2.5 ounces, just days before mother Christa Lynche's due date.

Michael Lynche, who placed fourth on American Idol in 2010, saw his daughter, Laila Rose, born in New York while he was auditioning for the show. She just turned two years old in January.

"Last night, was the first night we had him home," Lynche said of his new son. "And there was no sleeping in the house that night."

Lynche is also preparing for the August release of his first post-Idol record, to be called Lover's Symphony, on St. Petersburg-based Big3 Records. The singer said the material is R&B-oriented, a good collection of love songs developed for local mogul Bill Edwards' Big3 label, allowing Lynche lots of creative control.

And though he hasn't had time to watch the current edition of American Idol, he was heartened to hear that two Tampa Bay area residents were just named to the show's Top 24 roster of semi-finalists.

"I'd just tell them don't take anything for granted," Lynche added when asked if he had any advice. "It's that one shot which can change your life."

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Tampa Bay residents Jeremy Rosado and Shannon Magrane confirmed in American Idol's Top 24

shannon-magrane-300x400.jpgLooks like the spoiler websites were right, at least on two occasions.

Valrico resident Jeremy Rosado and Tampa resident Shannon Magrane were confirmed Thursday ascending to American Idol's Top 24 contestants, victories predicted weeks ago by the spoiler website The Idol Pad.

Rosado, 19, was a favorite for his clear, strong vocals and nice-guy attitude. In Thursday's episode, judge Jennifer Lopez didn't even bother with any suspenseful theatrics, telling Rosado they "would be crazy" not to pass him forward.

Magrane, 16, was kept hanging a bit longer, as the show replayed footage of judge Steven Tyler making a lecherous comment about her in front of her dad, baseball announcer Joe Magrane. But despite playing with suspense by showing her flub the lyrics during a group performances, viewers who have been paying attention knew she was one of the show's best performers and a lock for the semi-finalists' slot.

This week's episodes have nevertheless been a bit problematic, as judges stretched out the notifications for most contestants, torturing them with long waits and drawn out verdicts.

rosado.pngThen, in a final twist, viewers learned that the judges were going to save one of the male contestants they had dumped earlier -- meaning one singer had the horrible experience of getting cut on national television, only to get a reprieve. No matter how nice Idol tries to play, it can't help baring its fangs occasionally.

As a final indignity, viewers had to watch Tyler strip down to his skivvies and jump into the water surrounding their odd stage set at the Wynn casino in Las Vegas. I hope it's not a harbinger of things to come; as revelations go, Tyler's man boobs is low on my list of Idol-related must-sees.

 Live shows start next week. See Magrane and Rosado talk about their victories here:




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NBC's Today presents Sasha Baron Cohen's fake dictator minutes after reporting on bloodshed in Syria

the-dictator-profile.jpgI know Sasha Baron Cohen wants people like me to be offended.

Like any proper satirist, he crafts his bizarre characters with the specific goal of jabbing his audience at their most tender sensibilities, using absurdity and outrage to fuel his provocative comedy.

So I'm not surprised he was willing to appear on national television Friday morning as Admiral General Alladeen, his character from the upcoming movie, The Dictator. What amazed me, was that NBC's Today show allowed him to do it.

"I delayed 30 executions to do this," Cohen said in a telephone interview, adopting the thick accent of a Middle Eastern man. "By the way, how is your eunuch, Al Roker?"

I was surprised by Cohen's appearance because news outlets this week have been filled with emotional, jarring accounts of how Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is brutally repressing attempts at revolution in his country, mercilessly shelling civilian residences where rebels may be hiding and closing the country to the international press in an attempt to hide the carnage.

Two journalists were killed days ago trying to cover the conflict, including well-respected American journalist Marie Colvin. The Washington Post has a terrific piece on the hazards network TV news outlets are facing in covering the conflict there; New York Times media critic David Carr also has a poignant online column on the hazards faced by journalists struggling to get out information on the death and destruction.

the-dictator-sacha-baron-cohen-trailer.jpgSo it was odd to see NBC correspondent Richard Engel file a brief report from the Syrian border this morning, not long before Cohen appeared to hype the manufactured controversy over his conveniently-leaked plans to attend the Oscars as his Dictator character.

Nevermind that CNN carried stories yesterday about doctors saying they faced death if caught treating suspected rebels in Syria (The CBS Evening News today showed an entire family rebels say were shot to death by the Syrian army).

Let's all have a good laugh watching Cohen riff on the Oscar Academy's reluctance to let him from hijack their event by attending in costume (MTV says the Academy has relented and will let him attend in costume).

I'm sure some people will say I need to lighten up or get the joke But after watching news reports on the carnage in Syria for days, forgive me if I don't feel like laughing.


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WFLA reporter Adrienne Pedersen sees car crash video land on Jay Leno, CNN, GMA and beyond

adriennepedersen2.jpgIt wasn't quite the way Adrienne Pedersen imagined she might land on Jay Leno's Tonight Show or CNN.

But video of Pedersen giving a live report Wednesday morning on WFLA-Ch. 8 -- only to have two cars over her left should get into an accident on camera -- has become something of a viral hit, featured on Leno's show, CNN, Good Morning America, NBC's Early Today, England's Daily Mail newspaper, and the Drudge Report.

My own item here drew more than 28,000 pageviews, thanks to a link on The Drudge Report website. Pedersen said WFLA's video drew more than 35,000 pageviews Wednesday, but likely has many more today. Today, I watched CNN play the story twice within 10 minutes.

wfla-carcrash.jpgAnd while many viewers have made fun of Pedersen's focus -- she didn't realize these had been a car crash behind her until anchor Gayle Guyardo pointed it out -- the reporter said TV journalists often tune out extraneous sounds while reporting live.

"When you're reporting, you hear noises all the time," she said. "People yell things, people throw things; you're taught to just stay in the zone...I think not reacting is better than screaming something inappropriate. Good luck getting another job after that."

Pedersen said neither driver was hurt badly, which helped the video become a light-hearted viral hit. And to mollify snarky critics who implied she and photojournalist Rugene Moore may have distracted the driver -- guilty as charged, though I was really just cracking a joke -- Pedersen said they were set up many feet from the intersection and could not have caused the accident.

(As a critic, I'm surprised at how many national news outlets spent time on something which was essentially a cute local story. It really is true that TV and online outlets will put up video of almost anything if it is compelling enough.)

Moore actually helped pull one of the drivers out of their car. "I'm just glad everybody was okay," said Pedersen, who has worked at WFLA for just 18 months. "I honestly thought, when I got back to the station I would tell my co-workers about this crazy thing that happened. I had no idea they already knew." 

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Who is Media General considering selling its newspapers to?

mediageneralvig.jpgMedia General, owner of the Tampa Tribune and 22 other newspapers, said today it "is exploring the potential sale of newspapers operations," while declining to detail which newspapers might actually be sold or who is interested.

For years, profits for the company's Florida operations have been swallowed by losses at the Tribune, and staffers at the TV station have complained about having their fate linked the the slumping newspaper. Last year, Media General management moved to disentangle the TV station it owns, Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8, from the Tribune -- laying off 165 people from the print operations.

Today, the company released a statement saying it "has received inquiries from several third parties" regarding possible purchase of its print outlets. But the release doesn't say if the most notable chains the company owns, including the Tribune, The Times Dispatch in Richmond, Va., the Winston Salem Journal and many more.

tampatribune-redesign2010.jpgNewspaper expert John Morton said recent purchases of newspapers, including the New York Times Regional Media Group with several Florida newspapers, have been carried out by companies unknown to much of the publishing world, so it is tough to judge who might be interested in the Media General newspapers. Morton said publicly held newspaper companies have averaged about 10 percent profit margin -- down from 22 percent about seven years ago.

"Assuming the traditional newspaper business can hold onto what it's got, there are some businesses which don't get close to 10 percent in good years," he said. "The question is, how long will that be true."

According to the Associated Press, last year "Media General’s revenue from printed newspapers came to about $300 million, a little less than half of the company’s $616 million in total revenue. The company had previously stated that it would consider asset sales to reduce its $658 million in long-term debt."

Below is Media General's public announcement:

Media General Exploring Potential Sale of Newspapers

RICHMOND, VA. -- Media General, Inc. (NYSE: MEG) today announced that it is exploring the potential sale of newspaper operations. Media General said it has received inquiries from several third parties regarding the potential purchase of certain of its print assets. The company wishes to ensure that any divestiture it may make maximizes shareholder value.

Media General has indicated in recent months that it will consider asset sales at valuations that reflect the strength of its properties as a means of reducing total debt outstanding over time. The company noted that the valuations of local media properties in recent merger and acquisition transactions, including local newspapers, have reflected the strong market positions of the entities being sold. Media General’s newspaper brands are the leading print products in their core markets.

The company said there can be no assurance that any transaction will take place. Media General provided no definitive timetable for the evaluation process to conclude. Additional information will be provided if and when the company enters into a transaction. The investment banking advisory firm Peter J. Solomon Company is assisting Media General with the strategic evaluation process. 

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Car crash occurs behind WFLA reporter Adrienne Pedersen during live report

wfla-carcrash.jpgWFLA reporter Adrienne Pedersen saw her live report on gas prices this morning disrupted when two cars crashed within view of the camera, just over her left shoulder.

Anchor Gayle Guyardo quipped that perhaps the drivers "were shocked by the high gas prices." I wonder if maybe they were distracted by a local news crew reporting from the gas station they were passing.

See the incident below, h/t to TV SPY website:


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Ex-marketing director Brad Moses named general manager at Tampa's WFLA-Ch. 8

brad-moses-headshot.jpgBrad Moses, former head of Media General's NBC affiliate in Raleigh, N.C., was just named president and general manager of Tampa NBC station WFLA-Ch. 8, leading a station where he once served as marketing director for five years.

Moses worked at WFLA from 2002 to 2007, leaving to head Media General's NBC affiliate in Savannah, Ga. WFLA has not had a permanent person in the general manager's position since May 2011; Moses starts in the job March 26.

John Cottingham, president of Media General's TV stations in the mid-South, took over as interim general manager back in November, when the company cleaned out top management positions and restructured both WFLA and sister publication The Tampa Tribune. Moses helped Cottingham with the restructuring, which led to layoffs among Tribune employees.

Staff at the TV station were told WFLA would get its "swagger" back, disentangling much of its convergence connections to the Tribune. Moses' hiring would seem a greater step in that direction, bringing in an executive with lots of experience leading TV stations at a time when competition among local television outlets has never been sharper.

Media General's press release is below:

Brad Moses Named President and General Manager of WFLA

Tampa, Fla. – Media General, Inc. has named Brad A. Moses president and general manager of WFLA-TV, Media General’s NBC affiliate in Tampa, effective March 26, 2012.

“I am pleased to bring such a talented broadcast professional back to our Tampa station,” said John Cottingham, president and market leader for Media General’s Mid-South Market and interim general manager for WFLA. “Brad is a strong leader who has served as general manager of two Media General television stations over the past five years. Prior to that, he was WFLA’s marketing director for five years.  His leadership abilities and his knowledge of the Tampa community will be very valuable to our customers and employees.”

Since 2009, Mr. Moses has been vice president and general manager of WNCN-TV, Media General’s NBC affiliate in Raleigh, N.C. From 2007-2009, he was vice president and general manager of WSAV-TV, Media General’s NBC affiliate in Savannah, Ga. Under Mr. Moses’ leadership, WSAV won seven regional Edward R. Murrow awards for outstanding journalism as well as the Georgia Associated Press Broadcasters’ Pacemaker Award as the state’s Outstanding News Organization. From 2002-2007, Mr. Moses was director of marketing at WFLA, where he developed and implemented branding, marketing and promotion programs for the station.

Prior to joining Media General, Mr. Moses was promotion manager for WLS in Chicago. Before that, he served as operations manager and director of creative services during six years at WTVG-TV in Toledo, Ohio. Earlier, he was post production manager for WTOL-TV in Toledo. Mr. Moses graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in communication.

The Tampa DMA is the 14th television market in the nation, according to Nielsen Media Research.

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