Forecast: Less Anthony Watts?
KHSL-TV weatherman resigns and then works out compromise for more flex time
Something odd is going on behind the scenes at KHSL-TV Channel 12 news.
Anthony Watts, KHSL’s weather-forecasting icon, has tendered his resignation after 14 years with the station, reportedly giving his notice to management in the last week of August.
When the News & Review contacted him on Tuesday, Sept. 4, he said his private business, ItWorks, a service that provides weather information graphics to TV stations around the world, demands more of his time than he currently can give.
“No final date has been established,” Watts said early Tuesday morning.
He said he was to have a meeting with station management later that afternoon to air his desires and see if something could be worked out allowing him to stay with the station in a part-time capacity.
“In fact, it may not come to pass,” he said of his pending resignation. “Right now I can tell you that it’s my choice, and [management] wants to see what I have to say.”
Later in the day, Watts reported that in “quite an extraordinary meeting,” he and management had come to a compromise that will benefit both.
“My role will be expanded so that I can be both a weather guy and a science and gadget guy as well,” he said.
He will keep his current status for the next “30 to 60 days,” he said, and then do more taping and less live on-air material.
“They have recognized and said that they want me to contribute as much as I want,” he said. “We both win. I got what I was after: more flexible time.”
Watts’ move comes just two months after KHSL management unceremoniously fired sportscaster Royal Courtain after nearly 22 years of announcing scores on air. Courtain’s departure sparked an outcry of protest from many in the community, who said the station’s owners were putting the bottom line ahead of loyalty to longtime employees.
“This is not another death knell at Channel 12,” Watts cautioned. “This is very positive.”
However, it’s reportedly now common knowledge in the newsroom that Watts was leaving the station sometime soon, and that his position has been posted and interviews are being conducted with potential replacement weather people.
And on Sept. 3, in an e-mail response to an invitation asking him to speak at the upcoming Republican Party fund-raising picnic, Watts said he had given his notice and was leaving the station. In his response, a copy of which the News & Review has obtained, Watts points out that retiring KPAY talk show host Bruce Sessions isn’t the only “local personality you may have the last chance to see” at the picnic.
“I gave notice at KHSL last week,” Watts writes.
Watts also suggests he may run for elected office one day, noting, “I sure as heck have the public eye in a wide area.”
Named a number of times as best local media personality by the readers of this paper, Watts still commands considerable popularity with the local television audience. In June he was videotaped reciting the No. 1 entry for a David Letterman top-10 list, and this month he is master of ceremonies for the Men’s Health symposium at the Enloe Conference Center.
Insiders say the weatherperson position is important to local TV news in that it is a key element in establishing the news teams’ on-air personality.
Connecticut-based Catamount Broadcast Group purchased KHSL-TV in 1998. Watts’ departure would have marked the fourth goodbye of a longtime KHSL employee this year. Earlier, in the wake of the station’s shotgun marriage to KNVN, News Director Bruce Lang and General Manager Dino Corbin left the station. The once-competing network affiliations now share office and studio space as well as news and sports videotape, and the stations’ sales representatives now offer clients advertising that will run on either or both stations.
Watts told the News & Review he needs more time to travel in order to “drum up business” for his company.
ItWorks, which Watts founded in 1987, supplies what it calls "unique Internet solutions" for television weather broadcasters, meaning it offers weather data and computer systems for TV weather forecasters. The company, according to its Web site, has supplied broadcast graphics systems to more than 170 TV stations around the world.