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article imageOp-Ed: What happened to Tampa's local celebrities?

By Larry Clifton     Oct 24, 2011 in Entertainment
Tampa - If you went to high school in in the late 1960s Tampa social networking on a typical Saturday night might have meant nonchalantly “cruising” 10-plus laps around Frisch’s Big Boy Drive-In.
If your first car had front-wheel drive and you prefer texting to talking, not so much.
Whether it was Steak n’ Shake across from Plant High School, Dog and Suds, or the Sea Breeze Restaurant (where they served Cokes in the little bottles with a straw and a crab roll for less than a buck, American Graffiti-style “cruising” around Tampa involved occasionally revving one's typically high-mileage engine while circling curbside service porticoes of popular hamburger hangouts while listening to WLCY or another top 40 station. Meanwhile, radio, television and local celebrities made indelible impressions on our young minds. Ever wonder what happened to those Tampa DJs, television stars and talkmasters we listened to through the years?
Two of the most complete sources for learning tidbits about T.V. and radio celebrities, their work in the Tampa Bay area and what ever became of them is Tedd Webb’s website titled Where Are They Now? and the WTVT BIG 13 Historical Website. While we will explore the status of six Tampa celebrities from Webb’s website and other sources, I highly recommend that you visit the mentioned websites for a comprehensive journey down Tampa's memory lane.
Let’s begin with Tedd Webb, himself a Tampa radio icon.
TEDD WEBB - Born in Ybor City, raised in West Tampa, Webb had stops at WALT, WFSO, WLCY, WDAE, WNSI, WPLP, and the legendary "Q Morning Zoo" of the early 1980's, with Scott Shannon & Cleveland Wheeler. For eight years Webb hosted "Sports Rap" Sunday nights on WFTS Channel 28.
Web has received numerous awards for his broadcast work, including the esteemed "Communicator of the Year" from Toastmasters International, and Hispanic Heritage Man of the Year in Media for 2001. Webb is a member of Jefferson High School Hall of Fame and worked as a DJ, sportscaster and a talk show host during his time in radio. He is an avid photographer and author of table art book, Butt of Course, a black and white tribute to women, and Tedd Webb's Trivia; both books are available at www.floridabookstore.com. Webb is working on his third book entitled "The Window" and co hosts the AM Tampa Bay radio magazine with Jack Harris 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays at 970WFLA.
From Tedd Webb’s Where Are They Now?
Salty Sol’ Fleishman - one of Tampa’s most well known sportscasters Fleishman began work at WDAE before becoming the Sports Director at Channel 13 where he introduced another popular voice for sports, Andy Hardy. Fleishman eventually retired to Anna Maria Island and died in 1999.
Scott Robbins – One of Tampa Bay’s most popular “oldies” disc jockeys worked at WHBO, WYUU, and also at FM97.1. He was Tampa Bay’s host of "Good Time Rock N Roll." Robbins also worked at radio stations in New York City. Scott Robbins was discovered dead at age 54 after neighbors noticed newspapers piling up at his home.
Gordon Solie –Solie was the unflappable straight man that wrestling needed to play off zany wrestling celebrities like Jack Brisco, Dusty Rhodes and other local stars. Solie could bring a serious and credible tone to the wackiest situations live on camera and is credited for taking local wrestling to the next level during the 60s into the 90s. Solie was also a local radio news anchor early in his career.Solie died of cancer in 2000.
Hugh Smith - Channel 13’s Pulse News anchor, Hugh Smith, was known as a hard worker in the newsroom. He liked filming live action news and took full advantage of advancing technology and broadcasting from the station’s helicopter in the early 80s. Although Smith maintained professional decorum on the air from the time he was named news director in 1968, an arrest on morals charges in 1983 and subsequent legal problems in the 90s dogged his career. WTVT relieved Smith of his duties in the early 90s and he went to work for a radio station. Hugh Smith passed away in December, 2007.
Liz Richards- Remember Liz Richard’s show on Channel 10? After starting in radio and television in Cleveland, Richards came to Channel 10 to produce the John Eastman Show and wound up with her own show there. Richards left Channel 10 for a talk radio show host gig at 97 WFLA News Radio. Richards’ relationship with certain coworkers was reportedly strained, at best, and after being transferred to the night shift, she left the station in 1989 under less than ideal circumstances, according a narrative from Webb's Where Are They Now? website. Richards filed a sexual harassment suit against the station and several employees that lasted four years before being settled. Richards eventually attended Stetson Law School and is said to have a successful law practice in St. Petersburg.
These six Tampa celebrities don’t put a dent in the comprehensive A-to-Z list waiting for you at Tedd Webb’s Where are they Now? and the Big 13 Historical website. Both focuse on memorable local celebrities dead and alive, retired and still working – and the list is extensive and organized in alphabetical order by first name.
If you think smoked mullet is a hair style, Webb’s Where Are They Now? and the similar format of WTVT Historical Website may not be for you. But if you are a curious Tampan, both websites give in depth biographies and information about hundreds of Cigar City celebrities.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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