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TV NEWS DIRECTOR JOINS PR COMPANY

Staffers at St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10 - also known as 10 Connects - learned Thursday that news director Darren Richards will be leaving the station at the end of October for a job as vice president at Tucker/Hall, a Tampa public relations firm.

Richards, 42, has worked at WTSP for five years and for station owner Gannett Co. for 19 years. He said his leaving wasn't expressing any doubts about the future of local TV journalism or his own future at Gannett.

"This is just about everything adding up and being right for me," said Richards.

Over the past year, WTSP has let go of several longtime faces, including weather forecaster Randy Rauch and anchor Marty Matthews, while hiring new morning anchor Keith Jones and morning traffic reporter Danielle Saar.

Gannett has forced its employees to take unpaid days off twice this year. All the new resources for WTSP's morning show have not yet brought big ratings gains.

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