Radio-TV Broadcast History

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Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida
Branding ABC Action News
Slogan Taking Action For You
Channels Digital: 29 (UHF)

Virtual: 28 (PSIP)

Subchannels 28.1 ABC

28.2 AccuWX

Affiliations ABC (since 1994)
Owner The E.W. Scripps Company

(Scripps Media, Inc.)

Founded December 14, 1981
Call letters' meaning Family (or Florida)

Television Station (referring to original owner, Family Group Broadcasting)

Former channel number(s) Analog:

28 (1981-2009)

Former affiliations independent (1981-1988)

Fox (1988-1994)

Transmitter power 500 kW
Height 476 m
Facility ID 64588
Transmitter coordinates 27°50′32″N 82°15′45″W / 27.84222°N 82.2625°W / 27.84222; -82.2625


[hide]*1 History

  • 2 Newscasts
    • 2.1 Weather Coverage
    • 2.2 Newscast Lineup
  • 3 Digital Television
    • 3.1 Analog-to-Digital Conversion
    • 3.2 High Definition
  • 4 News Personalities
    • 4.1 Current Personalities
    • 4.2 Past Personalities
  • 5 News/Station Presentation
    • 5.1 Newscast Titles
    • 5.2 Station Slogans
    • 5.3 News Music
  • 6 Ownership
  • 7 Viewing Area
  • 8 Trivia
  • 9 External links
  • 10 References


WFTS-TV first went on the air on December 14, 1981 as an independent station. Being a flagship of the locally-based Family Group Broadcasting, the station programmed a family-oriented general entertainment format with cartoons, off-network dramas, old movies and religious shows. Its call letters originally stood for Family Television Station. An era of local ownership ended on April 22, 1984, when it was acquired by Capital Cities Communications. It was Capital Cities' first station in Florida, the group's first -- and only -- independent station, and was also the last station acquired by the group prior to its merger with ABC.

Under Capital Cities, the station added more off-network sitcoms and reduced the number of religious shows and dramas on its schedule. In 1986, Capital Cities stunned the world with its purchase of ABC -- the network was ten times bigger than CapCities was at the time. CapCities owned several ABC affiliates, and two CBS affiliates: KFSN-TV in Fresno and WTVD in Durham, North Carolina. The company's combined assets exceeded FCC ownership limits at the time, so CapCities decided to keep its CBS affiliates and change their affiliations to ABC, along with WPVI-TV in Philadelphia and KTRK-TV in Houston, and sold WFTS and ABC's O&O in Detroit, WXYZ-TV, to the E. W. Scripps Company, while selling several other stations to minority-owned firms. WXYZ would figure in WFTS' history once again less than a decade later.

Scripps continued the format on WFTS, running cartoons, sitcoms, movies, and dramas. A 10pm newscast was planned for the station, but did not come to fruition. WFTS picked up the Fox affiliation in 1988 after WTOG dropped it and the station began to identify on air as "Fox 28", and soon after briefly identified its call letters as standing for Fox Television Station.

On May 22, 1994, New World Communications came to an agreement with Fox, and most of New World's stations, including WTVT, Tampa Bay's longtime CBS affiliate, were to affiliate with Fox. Among the stations making the switch were longtime CBS affiliates WJBK in Detroit and WJW in Cleveland. Not wanting to be relegated to the UHF band, CBS heavily wooed Detroit's longtime ABC affiliate, WXYZ, as well as Cleveland's longtime ABC affiliate, WEWS-TV. Both stations were owned by Scripps. With this as leverage, Scripps told ABC that it would have to affiliate with four other stations owned by Scripps: WFTS, KNXV-TV in Phoenix (which was also due to lose its Fox affiliation to a New World station), WMAR-TV in Baltimore and WCPO-TV in Cincinnati -- the latter had to wait for ABC's affiliation contract with WKRC-TV to expire in June 1996 to switch. Scripps insisted on including WFTS and KNXV in the deal even though neither had a news department (see below).

As a result, in December 1994, WFTS assumed the ABC affiliation from longtime affiliate WTSP, which took over the CBS affiliation from WTVT. WFTS then sent most of its syndicated programming to WTTA, WTOG and/or WTMV, which would also air Fox Kids. A decade later, WFTS became one of three Florida television stations, and one of the many Scripps-owned ABC affiliates that preempted Saving Private Ryan.

The station is not available on Comcast cable in Venice (Southern Sarasota County) due to the presence of WWSB, an ABC station formed after WTSP's coverage of the Sarasota area was insufficient when WTSP was an ABC affiliate. This means WFTS is not available to over 91,000 cable subscribers. [1] In September 2007, both WFTS and WWSB began to carry Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!; previously WTSP had aired the two game shows from 7-8 p.m.

Tampa-St. Petersburg is the fourth largest market with a major network on the UHF dial, while the larger markets with a major network on the UHF dial are Phoenix (KNXV-TV, channel 15), Atlanta (WGCL-TV, channel 46) and Detroit (WWJ-TV, channel 62). KNXV is an ABC affiliate while WGCL is an CBS affiliate and WWJ is a CBS owned and operated station.


During its days as an independent station and Fox affiliate, WFTS presented hourly newsbreaks and weatherbreaks, featuring a person reading the day's headlines or the current forecast. During the station's first few months on the air, the newsbreaks were provided by WNSI-AM 1380 (now WWMI) in audio only, over a slide that said News Check. Later on, News Checks began to feature newsreaders on camera at WFTS's studios. By the late-1980s, the newsbreaks became 28 Newsbreak or 28 Weatherbreak. These newsbreaks were discontinued in December 1994 after the station became an ABC affiliate and launched a full-scale news operation.

WFTS began airing full-scale newscasts in 1994, under the "28 Tampa Bay News" handle. The newscasts initially originated from Telemation studios in Clearwater, since WFTS's studios on Tampa's east side (at the corner of I-4 and Columbus Drive) didn't have enough room for a full-sized newsroom or set. The station's news operation then moved to its new studios on Himes Avenue across from Raymond James Stadium in 1996. The station gradually added newscasts at 5-7am, 12noon-12:30pm, 5-6:30pm, and 11-11:35pm. Given the fact that many former Fox stations have switched to ABC, NBC or CBS at the time, WFTS did not falter with many stations of such that launched newscasts with no success at competing with long-standing (mostly VHF) news stations (some stations cancelled their newscasts as a result), WFTS manages to compete with rival stations in the Tampa market. However, the station is regularly in last place. In the May 2009 sweeps, the station placed last in all time slots except 6-7am (where it placed third ahead of WTSP) in the key Adults 25-54 demographic [2].

The newscast title was changed to "28 News" briefly in 2002, before being changed again to "ABC Action News" later that year due to viewer confusion with the ABC28 branding. The "Action News" all day branding is also shared with sister station KSHB-TV in Kansas City, which is an NBC affiliate.

In fall 2005, the station extended its midday newscast to a full hour, from 12 noon-1pm, following the cancellation of ABC's soap Port Charles. WFTS is one of ten television stations that air consumer reports from John Matarese of ABC affiliate (and sister station) WCPO in Cincinatti.

Until December 2009, WFTS was one of two stations to have two women regularly anchor an evening newscast. Wendy Ryan and Linda Hurtado anchor the 5pm newscast. Denise White and Kathy Fountain anchored the 5pm newscast on WTVT. Kathy Fountain retired on December 30th, 2009, leaving Ryan and Hurtado as the only all-female anchor team in Tampa Bay.

Weather Coverage[]

Screencap of "StormWatch in High Definition".WFTS currently uses WSI's Titan HD weather system. WFTS was the first to broadcast a true high definition weathercast in the Tampa Bay area in October 2007, rival WFLA soon followed. In early September 2007, WFTS introduced its 24-hour ABC Accu-Weather channel on Bright House digital channel 629. It is also available over the air on channel 28.2.

Newscast Lineup[]


  • ABC Action News This Morning in HD - 5-7 AM
Anchors: Dan Shaffer, Deiah Riley
Weather: Stephanie Roberts
Traffic: Captain Al, Meredyth Censullo
  • ABC Action News at Noon in HD - 12-1 PM
Anchors: Dan Shaffer, Deiah Riley
Weather: Stephanie Roberts
  • ABC Action News at 5 in HD - 5-5:30 PM
Anchors: Wendy Ryan, Linda Hurtado
Weather: Denis Phillips
  • ABC Action News at 5:30 in HD - 5:30-6 PM
Anchors: Brendan McLaughlin, Linda Hurtado
Weather: Denis Phillips
  • ABC Action News at 6 in HD - 6-6:30 PM
Anchors: Brendan McLaughlin, Wendy Ryan
Weather: Denis Phillips
Sports: Tom Korun
  • ABC Action News at 11 in HD - 11-11:35 PM
Anchors: Brendan McLaughlin, Wendy Ryan
Weather: Denis Phillips
Sports: Tom Korun


  • ABC Action News: Your Tampa Bay Weekend (Saturday) - 6-8 AM, 9-10 AM
Anchors: John Thomas, Ellen McNamara
Weather: Bill Logan
  • ABC Action News: Your Tampa Bay Weekend (Sunday) - 6-7 AM, 8-9 AM
Anchors: John Thomas, Ellen McNamara
Weather: Bill Logan
  • ABC Action News at 6 in HD - 6-6:30 PM
Anchor: Sarina Fazan
Weather: Wayne Shattuck
Sports: Tom Korun
  • ABC Action News at 11 in HD - 11-11:35 PM
Anchor: Sarina Fazan
Weather: Wayne Shattuck
Sports: Tom Korun
  • Sports Zone - 11:35 PM-12:05 AM (Sundays only)
Hosted by: Tom Korun

The open to ABC Action News used until December 2009.==Digital Television== WFTS-TV broadcasts on digital channel 29.

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Digital channels

Channel Name Programming
28.1 WFTS-TV main WFTS-TV/ABC programming
28.2 The AccuWeather Channel AccuWeather

Analog-to-Digital Conversion[]

WFTS-TV shut down its analog signal on June 12, 2009 [1], as part of the DTV transition in the United States. WFTS-TV's digital signal remained on its current pre-transition channel number, 29 [2] using PSIP to display WFTS-TV's virtual channel as 28.

High Definition[]

On July 28, 2007 at 6:00pm, WFTS-TV became the first broadcast station newscast in the Tampa DMA to broadcast in high definition.[3] WFTS surprisingly beat out rivals WTVT and WTSP who were both rumored to be competing for the first HD newscast in Tampa Bay.

News Personalities[]

Current Personalities[]

News Anchors

  • Dan Shaffer, weekday morning & noon anchor (since 1996)
  • Deiah Riley, weekday morning & noon anchor (since 2003)
  • Linda Hurtado, weekday 5 & 5:30 PM anchor & health reporter (since 1994)
  • Brendan McLaughlin, weekday 5:30, 6, & 11 PM anchor and host of Flashpoint (since 1994)
  • Wendy Ryan, weekday 5, 6, & 11 PM anchor (since 2003)
  • John Thomas, weekend morning anchor and weekday reporter (since 1999)
  • Ellen McNamara, weekend morning anchor (since 2009)
  • Sarina Fazan, weekend evening anchor and weekday reporter (since 1999)


  • Wayne Shattuck, (AMS Seal of Approval) weekend evening meteorologist (since 1994)
  • Denis Phillips, (AMS Seal of Approval) chief meteorologist (since 1994)
  • Stephanie Roberts, (AMS Seal of Approval) weekday morning & noon meteorologist (since 2008)
  • Bill Logan, weekend morning weather forecaster and weekday reporter (since 2004)

Sports Anchors

  • Tom Korun, weekday sports anchor
  • Dan Eassa, sports producer (also fills in for sports anchors) (since 2007)

Traffic Anchors

  • Meredyth Censullo, morning traffic anchor (since 2008)
  • John McQuiston, fill-in traffic anchor (since 2009)

News Reporters

  • Lissette Campos, Community Calendar/Positively Tampa Bay segments (morning anchor 2001-2005, since 2008)
  • Karen Castillo, general assignment reporter (since 2008)
  • Carson Chambers, general assignment reporter (since 2007)
  • Dustin Chase, general assignment reporter (since 2008)
  • Elizabeth Dinh, general assignment reporter (since 2007)
  • Alan Cohn, investigative reporter (since 2009)
  • Jackie Callaway, chief Taking Action For You reporter (since 2002)
  • Don Germaise, general assignment reporter (since 1994)
  • Kellie Lightbourn, Your Tampa Bay Weekend contributor (previously Call for Action Attorney reporter)
  • Kerry Kavanaugh, consumer reporter (since 2007)
  • John Matarese, consumer reporter (based out of WCPO in Cincinatti; since 2003)
  • Chris Martinez, general assignment reporter (since 2003)
  • Rebecca Medina, general assignment reporter (since 2007)
  • Alan "Captain Al" Taylor, Action Air 1 pilot/traffic reporter (since 2002)
  • Erik Waxler, sports reporter/fill-in sports anchor (since 2009)
  • Ty Wilson, general assignment reporter (since 2009)

Past Personalities[]

  • Drew Soicher, sports director (1994-1998) Now at KUSA in Denver.
  • Jay Crawford, sports director (1998-2003) Now at ESPN and WCBS-TV in New York City.
  • Paul Konrad, meteorologist (1994-1996) Now at WGN in Chicago.
  • Bob Kendrick, evening anchor (1994-2003) Currently at CHEK-TV, Victoria, B.C.
  • Angie Moreschi, anchor (1995-2001) Now freelance journalist and media consultant in Lutz, Florida.
  • Patrick Emory, morning anchor (2001-2003)
  • Robin Guess, investigative reporter (2001-2005)
  • Martie Tucker (Salt), evening anchor (1994-2003) Now at WFTV in Orlando.
  • Lissette Campos, anchor/reporter (2001-2005) Now working in management at WFTS.
  • Kelly Swoope, weekend anchor (1994-2002) Now at WMAR in Baltimore.
  • Trina Robinson, anchor/reporter (1994-?) Now at WTVJ in Miami.
  • Barron Johnson, reporter/freelance reporter (2000-2004, 2006-2007)
  • Laura Kadechka Now at WINK-TV in Ft. Myers.
  • Laura McElroy, reporter (1994-2004) Now working for the Tampa Police, serving as Public Information Officer.
  • Nannette Miranda, reporter (2000-2003) Now at KABC-TV in Los Angeles and on KGO-TV In San Francisco as the Sacramento Bureau Chief
  • Tracy Sievertson, reporter (2001-2004)
  • Mike Mason, investigative reporter (?-2004)
  • Peter Bernard, reporter, fill-in weather forecaster (1994-2002) Now at rival WFLA-TV in Tampa as a reporter.
  • Doug Smith, weekend anchor (1994-2003) Now at rival WTVT in Tampa as an investigative reporter and fill-in anchor.
  • Bob Irzyk, weekend sports anchor (1996-1998) Now at KDAF Dallas as Sports Director.
  • Sage Steele, sports anchor and reporter (?-2001) Later moved to Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, now at ESPN
  • Scott Hanson, weekend sports anchor (1997-?) Now reporter and host fill-in at NFL Network
  • Dave Mikes, morning anchor (1997-2001) Now at Salem Law Group as Communications Manager.
  • Heidi Kemp, freelance reporter (2005-2006)
  • Stacey Phillips, reporter (1998?-?)
  • Ren Scott, 5pm anchor (2002-2004)
  • Susan Scarborough, reporter/anchor (1994-1998) Freelanced for Fox News and now owns her own business in Greenville, SC
  • Dawn Witt, reporter (1994-?)
  • Dean Staley, reporter (1994-?) Now at Northwest Cable News in Seattle.
  • Carolyn Douglas, reporter (?-?), Now noon anchor at KING5 in Seattle
  • Mark Joyella, reporter (1994-?) Now at WPLG in Miami
  • Kyle Kraska, sports (1994-1997) Now at KFMB-TV in San Diego.
  • Brennan Lothery, sports reporter (1994-1997)
  • Joy Petit, Bayview host (retired, ?-2007)
  • Mark Olesh, sports anchor (?-?) Now in real estate.
  • Josh Talkington, reporter (2004-2007) Now in Nashville, at an advertisement firm.
  • Rob Spicker, reporter (1997-2007) Now at WINK-TV in Ft. Myers as an anchor.
  • Dawn Pellas, reporter (2006-2007)
  • Mary Ann Razzuk, reporter (2007)
  • Tracy Jacim, reporter (2007) Now at WOFL-TV Orlando.
  • Elizabeth Herrera, reporter (2007)
  • Samantha Knapp, reporter (2007)
  • Nadia Ramdass, freelance reporter (2007-2008)
  • Susan Casper, general assignment reporter/fill-in anchor (2006-2008), now reporter at KNXV-TV in Phoenix
  • Joe Demay, morning traffic voiceover (?-2008)
  • Jack Harris, WFLA-AM commentary (2005-2008)
  • Lisa Remillard, reporter (2005-2008) Now at KTNV in Las Vegas as an anchor.
  • Matthew Schwartz, investigative reporter (2005-2008)
  • Walt Maciborski, 5pm anchor (2005-2009) Now at KDAF-TV in Dallas.
  • Linda Gialanella, weekend meteorologist/fill-in meteorologist (2003-2009)
  • James Zambroski, general assignment reporter (2007-2009)
  • Porcha Johnson, general assignment reporter (2008-2009)
  • Al Keck, weekday sports anchor/sports director (2001-2009)

News/Station Presentation[]

Newscast Titles[]

  • 28 Newsbreak / 28 Weatherbreak (1988-1994)
  • 28 Tampa Bay News (1994-2002)
  • 28 News (2002)
  • ABC Action News (2002-present)

Station Slogans[]

  • Catch Familyvision on Channel 28 (1981-1984)
  • Tampa Bay's Independent (ca. 1986-1988)
  • Your Fox Television Station (early-1990s; coincidentally, this term was trademarked by the actual Fox Television Stations Group which never owned WFTS in the first place (though they now own WTVT)
  • Working Hard To Be Your Favorite (1994-1995)
  • Real People, Real News (1996-1999)
  • You Need to Know (2002)
  • Taking Action for You (2002-present)
  • First in HD (2007-2008)
  • Start Here (2007-2009; local version of ABC network slogan)

News Music[]


  • 1981: founded by Ian Wheeler
  • 1984: sold to Capital Cities/ABC
  • 1986: sold to The E.W. Scripps Company

Viewing Area[]

WFTS can be seen mainly in Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Hardee, and Polk Counties. WFTS can also be viewed in portions of Citrus, Sumter, Sarasota, De Soto, Highlands, Orange, Osceola and Lake Counties.


  • The first incarnation of channel 28 was to have been WTSS-TV, an affiliate of the DuMont Television Network in the 1950s.[4] It is very likely that that station never made it to air.
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been to the Tampa Bay area twice. During the first visit, host Ty Pennington came to WFTS's studios during a commercial break and took sports director Al Keck in Stormchaser to do a play-by-play version of the family's house when it was being destroyed to make way for the new one.
  • A clip from a WFTS newscast was shown on Jimmy Kimmel Live in early November 2006. In the clip, was reporter Susan Casper.
  • WFTS has produced two local versions of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition which asked viewers to nominate someone.

External links[]


  1. ^
  2. ^ CDBS Print
  3. ^ "WFTS-TV First in Tampa to broadcast news in High Definition".
  4. ^