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Former WFLA veteran anchor Bill Ratliff dies at 63…

(from Ratliff, a former morning anchor at WFLA-Ch. 8 who retired in 2009 after 27 years at the station has died at age 63.

According to a member of his family, Ratliff passed away today after complications from surgery.

Ratliff left WFLA after a 40-year broadcasting career, unwilling to accept a pay cut for reduced hours on air. He returned to TV briefly in 2010, offering political commentary on the midterm election cycle for CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10.

WFLA morning anchor Gayle Guyardo, who worked with Ratliff from 1994 until his retirement and kept in touch with him, said the anchor kept his health problems even from friends….Cont….


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05 2012

Ratliff returns to TV…

(from – Former WFLA-Ch. 8 anchor Bill Ratliff, who retired at Tampa’s NBC affiliate last year after the station proposed cutting back his work hours and salary, will return to local TV for 2010 election coverage.

But he’s doing it for rival CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10.

The move makes sense: Ratliff built up a tremendous amount of viewer loyalty during 12 years on WFLA’s morning show and 27 years’ total at the station. Long before he took that job, he spent a year covering the 1986 race for the U.S. Senate between Bob Graham and Paula Hawkins.

WTSP news director Pete Roghaar said Ratliff will make his first appearance today, in their 5:30 p.m. newscast, and is expected to appear two to three times each week over the next three months. Right now, he’ll be talking over political issues inside the studio; Roghaar hopes if the next three months go well, it may be the beginning of a long-term association which could last at least until the GOP convention comes to Tampa in 2012.…Cont….


08 2010

Ratliff signs off for the last time…

(from – Longtime WFLA morning anchor Bill Ratliff signed off today by thanking the viewers, his co-workers and family for 27 “wonderful years” at News Channel 8. “I want to thank all the viewers who have been so supportive of me. I can’t tell you want it has meant to me,” Ratliff said on his final morning newscast. He said the e-mails, letters and public response to his retirement is overwhelming. “I don’t have the words to say, except ‘thank you’,” he said. “God bless you all.” Co-anchor Gayle Guyardo narrated some clips of Ratliff over the years and engaged in lighthearted ribbing of the 60-year-old. She broke a promise to him not to cry and gave him a hug at the close of the newscast. “You will be missed,” she said. After the sign-off, Ratliff was given an informal send-off party in the newsroom. News director Don North gave him a book about the history of television in Cincinnati (Ratliff’s hometown) and a bottle of Dom Periginon champagne. News Channel 8 anchors Gayle Sierens and Keith Cate came to say goodbye, and there was a surprise visit from retired anchor Bob Hite. “How could I miss this after all we have been through?” said Hite, who lives in Colorado. Ratliff and Hite recalled their stint as co-anchors on the 6 p.m. news in the 1980s that Ratliff says was a ratings disaster, “but we have so much fun.” They shared some anchor desk stories about clowning around on the set. Ratliff choked up as he told the staff that he would miss them and when he thanked his wife, Linda, and his children for their support. Linda and his son Chet were by his side today. He also thanked co-anchor Guyardo and the other morning show team members, meteorologist Jennifer Hill and traffic reporter Alicia Roberts. Comparing it to a second family, he said the morning team shared a lot of fun moments and a tragedy (the death of meteorologist John Winter in 2007). Guyardo called Ratliff the “consummate professional” who was always there for her. Ratliff said Guyardo had taught him how to loosen up and have fun on the morning newscast that they have co-anchored for more than 15 years. Ratliff chose to take an early retirement after turning down a contract with a reduced salary. He has said his severance package will allow him to take a year off to consider new career options. “I will be staying in Tampa; we love it here,” he said. Click here for the story…??????????????????? Click here for WFLA tribute video


06 2009

Ratliff to sign off this week…

(from – One thing Bill Ratliff won’t miss about anchoring the morning shift at WFLA, Channel 8: getting up at 1 a.m. to get ready for work. “It changes your whole body clock, so I’m looking forward to sleeping in and staying up late,” says Ratliff, who signs off the News Channel 8 morning newscast on Thursday. After 27 years at the NBC affiliate, the 60-year-old anchor is taking an early retirement from WFLA. He plans to take a year off before deciding what to do next in his career. “It’s been a wonderful ride here, and I’ve enjoyed it, but I’m ready for a change,” says Ratliff, who decided to pass on signing a new short-term contract for reduced pay. “We’re going to miss him; mornings won’t be the same,” says his longtime co-anchor, Gayle Guyardo. “I can’t talk about it without breaking up; it’s the end of an era,” she adds, fighting back tears. “He is such a part of the identity of Channel 8, and I’ve learned so much from him about news.” Ratliff says he also learned from Guyardo in the 16 years they’ve worked together. “She showed me how to loosen up and be myself on the air,” he says, “The morning newscasts are different from others because you share an intimacy with the viewers.” Ratliff, who grew up in Cincinnati, was a rising star when he came to Tampa in March 1982. He had worked as an anchor and reporter in Lexington, Ky., and Detroit. In Dallas, he was a “PM Magazine” host and then news anchor. He says “PM Magazine” taught him the art of storytelling. “I left WFAA, arguably one of the best TV stations in the country at the time, to become the primary news anchor on the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts at Channel 8,” he says. “I had never worked in Florida, but I had been to Clearwater as a child on family vacations.” Ratliff was a hard-driving, serious newsman who wanted to be a leader in the newsroom. WFLA went through a lot of internal turmoil and numerous news directors in the 1980s during a ratings battle with rival WTVT, Channel 13. Ratliff first teamed with Suzanne Bates, who left the station in the summer of 1984, and then with now-retired anchor Bob Hite. “The station thought that a two-man team would be the perfect answer to the male-dominated newscasts on WTVT, which featured Hugh Smith, Andy Hardy and Roy Leep,” Ratliff says. “They owned the market.” But it didn’t work. “We had so much fun, too much fun probably, because it was a disaster,” Ratliff says. “By January of ’85, the station decided to bring a woman back to the newscast.” The job went to Gayle Sierens. Hite became her co-anchor. Ratliff says that prompted the most adult decision of his life. “Instead of getting mad and leaving, I decided to stay and stop chasing the golden ring of being the main anchor,” he says. “I wanted to do good journalism and contribute to the team effort.”……Cont……


06 2009

WFLA suspends Gasparilla coverage due to weather…

Coverage of Saturday’s Gasparilla parade on WFLA was cut short, as strong winds and whipping rain pounded parade hosts, crew, and equipment. At the start of the parade, WFLA lost air coverage as Eagle 8 pilot Judd Chapin had to ground the station’s helicopter. By half way through the parade coverage, booth anchors Keith Cate and Gayle Guyardo lost audio feeds as wind driven rain seeped into audio equipment. Boom cameras hovering over parade floats and marching bands had to be tied down. After extended commercial breaks, parade street reporter Jennifer Leigh announced on-air that WFLA had decided to suspend coverage due to unsafe conditions and technical difficulties for WFLA staff.

On a side note, this was Keith Cate’s first time hosting and Gayle Guyardo’s final time hosting the Gasparilla parade. Cate replaces Bill Ratliff who retired from the station this past June. Guyardo is leaving the station this coming March to join a local production company.

Watch video below as conditions degrade and WFLA suspends coverage.


01 2010