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WFLA-Ch. 8 forecaster is a victim of budget cuts

It was the last thing he expected to happen, nine months into a new contract.

But Mace Michaels, the second-longest-tenured forecaster at WFLA-Ch. 8, was told recently he will leave the Tampa NBC station Aug. 4, his job eliminated by budget cuts at the Media General-owned station.

Words of Michaels' departure comes as the Richmond, Va., company released a report Thursday noting that a series of job reductions that began in early 2007 will have eliminated 750 jobs from the company by the third quarter of 2008. About 250 of those jobs were eliminated last year, with 500 job reductions remaining this year, according to a company spokesman.

The bulk of those cuts are expected to fall in Florida, where Media General has already offered buyout packages to half of its 1,326 employees, including workers at WFLA, TBO.com, the Tampa Tribune, Hernando Today, and a host of smaller daily and weekly newspapers. According to materials circulated to employees in April, Media General staffers who applied for the buyout should learn this week if the company has accepted their application.

Michaels, 37, came to WFLA in April 2000, getting a rocky start when he broke away from a U.S. Open golf broadcast to report on a waterspout just as the legendary Tiger Woods was wrapping up a record 15-stroke victory in June 2000.

"They told me this was 100 percent budget-related," Michaels said. "They're cutting the budget, and I'm the victim."

The company expects the job cuts — about a 10 percent reduction from the company peak of 6,900 jobs in early 2007 — to save $40-million in 2009.

WFLA-Ch. 8 forecaster is a victim of budget cuts 05/22/08 [Last modified: Sunday, May 25, 2008 12:32pm]
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