Make us your home page

After 40 years in broadcasting, Fox 13's Denise White cartwheels into retirement

TAMPA — Longtime news anchor Denise White let her viewers in on a secret during her Monday evening newscast that she'd been wanting to share for a while.

After 25 years at Fox's WTVT-Ch. 13 and 40 years in the broadcasting business, she's retiring at the end of the month. And don't mistake her on-air sniffles for grief.

"As a matter of fact, that was me doing cartwheels down Kennedy Boulevard earlier today," she said with a laugh.

"I'm happy for you," said co-anchor Cynthia Smoot. "I'm really sad for us. You're just irreplaceable."

"People always say, 'What are people like on TV?' But you, what people see on TV is what they get," said meteorologist Paul Dellegatto. "There is nothing fake. Your laugh will never be forgotten."

In 1990, White left a Miami station to begin her career at Ch. 13, joining Kathy Fountain in the 5 p.m. slot — the first female anchor duo in Tampa Bay television.

The pair quickly bonded and, for nearly 20 years, charmed audiences with their camaraderie. They finished each other's sentences and complemented each other's personalities: Fountain, gentle, and White, direct.

For some time in the 1990s, White was the highest-profile minority anchor in the local market, the sole black journalist anchoring a weekday evening newscast. Then, many minority reporters were relegated to the "weekend ghetto," White told the Tampa Tribune in 1998.

"I've always been impressed that my station was the first to break with the status quo and open the doors of opportunity on its main news shows," she told the St. Petersburg Times in 1998. "I can only hope that wisdom continues to prevail."

White has covered hurricanes, homelessness, drug abuse and social issues. After a fatal police shooting involving a white officer and a black motorist sparked unrest in St. Petersburg, White co-hosted a live town hall meeting in the city.

In 2013, she interviewed first lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

"We were all a little emotional tonight," said John Hoffman, WTVT's vice president of news. "It was classic Denise White. … She was funny and professional and emotional, all in one."

Some of White's most compelling work, Hoffman said, were her Black History Month profiles of local history makers.

"She was a great advocate for the black community, both behind the scenes and on the air," he said. "She worked very hard on them, and she researched them deeply, and I think a little bit of her own life was reflected in those."

White, who just turned 60, called her work a privilege.

"I hope that I've done it with credibility and with professionalism and with dignity, and I just want to thank you for watching," she said on air Monday.

When she signs off Nov. 25, she leaves a hole in the noon and 5 p.m. newscasts. The station has not yet announced her fill-in.

White said adjusting to retirement won't be easy, but she told Hoffman she won't be returning to television any time soon.

After 40 years, and a brief role as a drug informant in a 1980s episode of Miami Vice, she's ready for life off-camera.

Contact Claire McNeill at or (727) 893-8321.

After 40 years in broadcasting, Fox 13's Denise White cartwheels into retirement 11/09/15 [Last modified: Monday, November 9, 2015 10:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Old Time Pottery adds store in Largo


    LARGO — A home decor and furniture store opened Thursday at 1111 Missouri Ave. N, according to a news release from the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce. This is Old Time Pottery's fourth location in the Tampa Bay area, joining stores in Kenneth City, New Port Richey and Brandon. The company, which has 41 …

  2. Tampa Bay has two new million-dollar ZIP Code areas — is yours one of them?

    Real Estate

    You might not be a millionaire, but chances are greater now that you live in a million-dollar Tampa Bay neighborhood.

    Tampa's ZIP Code 33606 is among the six bay area ZIPs in which at  least 10 percent of the homes are worth $1 million or more. This  Davis Islands home sold in January for $6.275 million. {Courtesy of Smith & Associates]
  3. Powerball jackpot climbs to $510 million, 8th largest


    DES MOINES, Iowa — The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $510 million, making it one of the largest in U.S. history.

    A store clerk pulls a Powerball ticket from the printer for a customer, Tuesday, in Hialeah, Fla. The Powerball jackpot has has rolled 18 times, since the June 14, drawing, resulting in an estimated $510 million for Wednesday night's drawing. [Associated Press]
  4. Security threat leads Florida to cancel prison visitation


    TALLAHASSEE — Visitation to all Florida state prisons has been canceled this weekend after evidence surfaced that inmates are planning possible uprisings to coincide with Saturday's march for prisoners' human rights in Washington, D.C.

  5. St. Pete Sculpture Museum announces move to Central Avenue

    Visual Arts

    Another museum is joining the mix in St. Petersburg's downtown Central Arts District.

    Sculptor Jon Hair with his 26-foot lion sculpture. Hair's St. Pete Sculpture Museum will soon move to a prominent spot on Central Avenue, Hair said. [Courtesy of Jon Hair]