Christopher Spata, Features Writer

Christopher Spata

Features Writer

I'm focused on the offbeat side of life. I love stories about people pursuing unusual goals, and what drives them. I've written about retirees attending Santa Claus School, competitors at the World Sign Spinning Championships and an optician rebuilding old Chuck E. Cheese robots in his bedroom. I'm also looking for hyper-local culture stories, from tracing the global path plastic beads take to Tampa's Gasparilla festival, to pondering mysterious butt graffiti in downtown St. Pete. I also contribute to our entertainment and Things To Do coverage. I previously worked for the Tampa Tribune and Ocala Star-Banner. I'm a rare, native-born Floridian, and collect all things Floridiana, from alligator ash trays to vintage postcards for roadside attractions. I say Florida isn't "weird," just more interesting.

Radio station WMNF victim of ransomware cyberattack

A soundboard at WMNF 88.5 FM. Times (2005)
Archived episodes of the station's news and public affairs programming may be lost permanently.

Pinball Arcade Museum opening in St. Petersburg next month

St. Petersburg’s Pinball Arcade Museum is set to open Aug. 1 in the Grand Central District. [Courtesy of Pinball Arcade Museum]
All of the pinball machines and classic arcade games will be playable for a daily admission fee.

'Floribama Shore' star Nilsa arrested during St. Petersburg First Friday after allegedly flashing crowd

Pinellas County mug shot of Nilsa Anderson, 25, a star on MTV's Floribama Shore. Anderson was arrested July 6, 2019 by St. Petersburg police after allegedly kicking out a car window. [Pinellas County]
The MTV reality series is currently filming its third season in Tampa Bay.

'Florida Girls' creator Laura Chinn spins TV comedy from real-life Clearwater

From left to right: Laci Mosley, Laura Chinn, Patty Gugenheim and Melanie Field in a scene from “Florida Girls.” [Courtesy of Pop]
We talked to Chinn about the Pop network series, which takes place in a heightened version of Tampa Bay.

Want to quit your job and start a true crime podcast? Obscura's host did it.

Justin Drown, 30, pictured in the garage studio at his Valrico home, hosts “Obscura: A True Crime Podcast.” [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Justin Drown gets paid to talk about murder in his Valrico garage. And he's not the only one.