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10News WTSP ditches traditional newcasts for viral focus, introduces new anchors

Jackie Fernandez is among several new anchors and reporters who debuted on 10News WTSP on Tuesday. [WTSP]
Jackie Fernandez is among several new anchors and reporters who debuted on 10News WTSP on Tuesday. [WTSP]
Published Apr. 19, 2017

St. Petersburg-based CBS affiliate 10News WTSP debuted a new look Tuesday morning, complete with new on-air personalities, a redesigned set and even a new 10News logo.

The new 10News Brightside is part of what the station's managers are calling a top-to-bottom revamp of its newscasts. The station is shifting its focus toward buzzy, viral stories that viewers are discussing on social media platforms, and away from the more traditional approach to delivering the news.

For one thing, new Brightside anchor Jackie Fernandez wasn't seated behind a desk. Instead, she got up and moved around the studio during the newscast.

"We have viewers who are getting so much info instantly, through digital platforms, so a lot of times our newscasts were not as timely as they needed to be," general manager Mike Rodriguez said. "We did a significant amount of research. We asked viewers. We studied trends. And it all led us to this type of presentation."

Rodriguez says he hopes the newscast feels more collaborative.

"It's more of a dialogue, instead of a monologue," he said. "It looks a lot more like what people see on the web."

Fernandez, who most recently worked at WEWS in Cleveland, is joined on Brightside by anchor Rob Finnerty, who last worked at KCTV in Kansas City. Grant Gilmore, who comes from WFMY in Greensboro, N.C., takes over as meteorologist on weekday mornings.

Allison Kropff, who previously anchored WTSP's morning newscast, is being moved to the 5:30 and 6 p.m. broadcasts. Her former morning co-anchor Ian Reitz is moving into an enterprise reporting position. Ashley Batey, who did weather on weekday mornings, is moving to weekends.

The most noticeable changes will be to the morning newscast, which airs daily starting at 4:30 a.m., and the 11 p.m. newscast, which is being renamed Nightside, news director Bob Clinkingbeard said.


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