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Charles Billi gone from WTSP

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

WTSP Channel 10 reporter and anchor Charles Billi is no longer working for the station. His last day on the job was reportedly January 31. According to The Florida News Center inside sources said Billi had been off the air for the past few weeks even though he only officially announced leaving Tuesday on Facebook.

Billi was reportedly sitting out the duration of his contract. Sources told The Florida News Center Billi’s contract was not renewed due to creative differences with station management.

Billi came to WTSP in 2012 as a bold hire expected to deliver fast-paced and courageous reporting. He returned to the Tampa market with experience from multiple stations including 13 years at WSVN in Miami, WOIO in Cleveland after previously having worked for Tampa’s former station, WTOG.

According to The Florida News Center, former general manager Ken Tonning and former News Director Peter Roghaar praised Billi’s reporting style at the time of his hire for his reporting style.

And Billi himself reportedly looked forward to being a part of the station’s growth. His work on the evening newscast from 5-6 p.m. and on late-night contributed to a quick rating boost.

But changes were in store. Tonning left the station in 2013, replaced by Bay News 9’s Elliott Wiser. The change led to a sense of apathy in the station’s heavily scripted news format. The station was reportedly nicknamed things like “Bay News 10” and “Snooze-News 10.”

Other departures followed, including anchor Melanie Michael, Heather VanNest, Joe Gumm, Ginger Gadsen and Roghaar. Several photographers also left the station dropping morale at the station.

Billis plans to stay in the Tampa Bay area. He’s working with a group called The News Directors, a team of media crisis and communications consultants who work with Public Information Officers to better respond to and deal with the media. He had previously spoken at the Florida PIO Symposium in Daytona Beach.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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