Great Day Tampa Bay co-host Stephanie Webb has the phrase "This Too Shall Pass" tattooed on her arm. It's a homage to her late parents and a reminder that she persevered through the diagnosis and removal of a surprising tumor doctors found in her side two years ago. It also reflects the upbeat, positive attitude she brings to her television show each day at 9 a.m. on WTSP-Ch. 10. Webb joins co-host Michael Clayton, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver, in trying to deliver an upbeat and empowering series of interviews and segments. She also strives to connect with the community's philanthropic efforts.
She recently spoke to Tampa Bay Times staff writer Ernest Hooper about her show, serving as emcee for an upcoming Trinity Cafe gala, and coming to Tampa Bay just over a year ago from a similar role at a station in Grand Rapids, Mich.
What excites you most about being the co-host of Great Day Tampa Bay?
I would say because our show is different every single day. Literally, one day we can have a great band in, and then the next day we're going to be learning to paddleboard in the bay, and then the next day we're going to go visit some hurricane hunters. Every single day it's different and it's fascinating. It's a nice mix of everything you might be interested in.
You've been working with Michael Clayton since March. What's it like working with someone who is something of a broadcast novice, compared to your experience?
He has what you can't teach. In our business, you can be taught how to read the teleprompter, you can be taught how to write, you can be taught how to edit. What he brings is this natural joy and enthusiasm that is just as real on camera as it is off camera. He brings this excitement and this willingness to try anything and everything. He's been such a dream co-host.
Has he done any singing on the show?
All the time. We'll have bands that are doing soundchecks in between commercial breaks and he'll actually be the warmup act. He'll jump on the mic and start singing and our singers are like, "He's actually good." He's a good singer.
Your show focuses on being positive and uplifting, empowering. Is that a change from when you started hosting?
A little bit. We've always tried to be positive. It's so easy to look in the news and see all the things that might scare you, might make you nervous, make you worried for your kids. We've always tried to be positive and show off all these great things that people are doing.
How much do viewers appreciate the empowering messages?
The more you put it out there, the more people respond and will bring you those positive stories. You have viewers out there associating your show with bringing something positive.
Is the philosophy hard to implement?
It's so easy to find all these great stories here. This has been the most philanthropic community I've ever worked in. There are so many people and so many organizations, it's just unreal to me. There's a way and a place to help just about everybody in this community.
And you're helping as the emcee of the Trinity Cafe's upcoming gala on Thursday.
I think one of the best things about this event is hearing these stories from people who have used their services, who have been through Trinity Cafe, who have needed Trinity Cafe in their lives. I don't think anyone truly understands how common our situations are until you hear the stories. When you hear some stories of people who need places like Trinity Cafe, you instantly think in the back of your head, "That could be me. That could be my parents, my grandparents, my brother, my sister." We are truly one catastrophic event from needing something like this. I don't think you truly appreciate what you have or the places like Trinity Cafe that are there to help people in need until you hear those stories. It makes you realize how similar you are.
How did you get into television?
My whole career has been a weird accident of things. When I went to Hope College in Michigan, I majored in psychology. I always loved true crime, so I leaned toward criminal psychology. When I got out, I was getting ready to pursue my master's and I started working at our Fox television affiliate, just in sales. They said, "You've got a great commercial voice." I started doing some commercial work, it led to an on-air position and then it led more into promotions for television. When I was out doing publicity for the Fox affiliate, I met this morning radio show and they asked me, "Do you want to fill in some time?" So I filled in sporadically when their third host was gone and then when she left, they said, "What do you think of morning radio?" I said, "Too early. I like to sleep in."
So you did morning radio?
I said I would try it for a month, and I did it for five years. I loved morning radio. I loved every second. It was all talk radio. It taught me a lot about spontaneity, thinking things through before you speak, doing your research. I grew up a lot in those five years.
And then you moved on to a TV show, like the one you co-host now?
When they started the show I worked on there, they said, "We want you because you can talk a lot." They didn't want a news reporter. They wanted someone who could create their own style. That's how I got into TV.
How have you adjusted to life in Florida?
I love it so much. I don't miss the snow at all. I miss my friends, I miss some of our family, but I couldn't love it more. Living here, best decision ever.
What gets you up in the morning, other than a good shot of Starbucks?
You mean the excessive caffeine that all my co-workers know I drink every morning? I love what I do. I love telling stories and I love being creative and that's really what our show is. We get to tell these great stories about the area you live in and we also get to be creative while we're doing it.
Sunday Conversation is edited for brevity and clarity. Contact Ernest Hooper at [email protected]