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Charisse Strawberry tries TV role

The thought came to Charisse Strawberry briefly during interviews last year with Today's Katie Couric and then-Fox News anchor Paula Zahn about her troubled husband, onetime New York Yankees baseball great Darryl Strawberry:

I can do that.

The topic came up with pal Star Jones, a co-host on ABC's The View. Then Strawberry met Bay News 9 anchor Susan Casper, who featured her in a February report on the area's outstanding black women, and she had more specific discussions.

Tuesday, Strawberry took a step toward the TV journalism career she's long dreamed about, hosting a segment on Bay News 9 dubbed "Today's Woman."

"I'm at a point in my life where I'm trying new things," said Strawberry, 35, of her new part-time job, which involves taping short feature stories on topics of interest to women, including owning a home and successful female CEOs. "If I can learn the field and can do well and people are responsive to it . . . yeah, I'd love to do more."

She has a yearlong contract to host the segment, voicing stories written by a producer who gathers video footage and information. Each story airs repeatedly between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesdays.

Strawberry joins a short list of well-known wives who make similar appearances on Bay News 9. Dr. Linda McClintock, wife of Tampa Mayor Dick Greco, is one of five doctors who host Health Team 9 features (she isn't paid), and Cheryl Keck, wife of WFTS-Ch. 28 sportscaster Al Keck, voices the "On Your Kids" segments.

Shikiri Johnson, wife of Buccaneers receiver Keyshawn Johnson, once spent time at Bay News 9 while considering an on-air career.

"It's always nice to have someone who has name recognition in the market," noted Bay News 9 general manager Elliott Wiser, saying the Strawberry deal was completed a month ago and will not affect coverage of her husband. "We didn't hire Charisse because of her husband. We hired her because she has a lot of talent and epitomizes today's woman."

Strawberry declined to comment on the recent troubles of her husband, who was arrested March 13 and jailed for violating probation by getting ejected from a drug treatment center. He was accused of violating several rules, including a ban on sex between residents.

It was his sixth probation violation stemming from a 1999 arrest on charges of soliciting a prostitute and cocaine possession.

"My main concern is my three children and how they've dealt with this," Charisse said. "I think it's important for anyone in this situation . . . you've got to talk about it. My kids want to know that they're loved and this is not their fault."

She delivers motivational speeches as president of the Tampa affiliate of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Still, Strawberry found her experience as a TV interview subject helped more in learning her new job. She's already critiqued her first on-camera appearance.

"I needed more energy," said Strawberry, who watched her debut while working out at a gym. "You have to smile when you talk . . . you have to project your voice. I'm just getting used to (it all)."

_ Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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