Even as employees there are scheduling their second round of weeklong furloughs without pay, St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10 is adding faces to its morning show in a bold effort to reverse a historically underperforming time slot.
Most recently, Danielle Saar, a reporter at KKTV in Colorado Springs, is coming to CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10 on April 13 to serve as the station's new traffic anchor.
Saar, 26, was a "one-man-band" journalist in Colorado Springs, reporting and filming stories herself in a trend sweeping smaller stations looking to curb costs.
But at WTSP, she will join new hire Keith Jones and longtime morning face Ginger Gadsden behind the anchor desk in an amped-up program that news director Darren Richards describes as resembling "a very good morning drive (radio) show" with "more energy and excitement than shows we've had in the past or seen from the competition."
Given that rivals WTVT-Ch. 13 and WFLA-Ch. 8 have historically dominated mornings — and WTSP doesn't get much help from CBS's often sagging Early Show — growth in this period may be an uphill battle. But Richards is encouraged that he's getting some resources to improve the program and remains hopeful their 10 Connects effort will garner some new eyeballs.
But one reason Richards was talking rather than marketing/PR guru Pete Nikiel Monday, is because Nikiel had just started his payless furlough — part of WTSP owner Gannett Co.'s effort to save money while limiting pay cuts and avoiding even more extensive layoffs.
Just another reminder of the challenges every news organization is facing these days.