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WTVT-Ch. 13 hires new general manager


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000

WTVT-Ch. 13, the local Fox affiliate that recently lost its general manager to Los Angeles' Fox outlet, announced Wednesday that it found a replacement -- right in the building.

Robert Linger, who has been with WTVT since 1990, the last three years as vice president of sales, was named as vice president and general manager.

Linger said he worked closely with former vice president and general manager David Boylan over the years and planned to continue where Boylan left off.

"I think the great thing about Dave was that he managed by inclusion, and I foresee a seamless transition," Linger said Wednesday. "I was very close to the process with Dave. The last three years we all worked collectively to make this a better operation, and my job is to continue that process."

Boylan was the man largely responsible for building WTVT-Ch. 13 into one of the strongest Fox affiliates in the country. After three years of juggling programming and tinkering with anchor lineups, the station last year had the highest share of advertising revenue in the Tampa Bay area. And in the most recent "sweeps" rating period, WTVT was a solid second (to WFLA-Ch. 8) in most key time slots.

Among the challenges facing Linger and Channel 13 are the ratings war with WFLA, which reaches more households than any other station in the state, and a pending lawsuit filed by two former WTVT reporters who say station officials wanted them to lie in an investigative series involving chemical giant Monsanto.

"We're already seeing some (viewership) erosion at WFLA," Linger said. "This is a station that is doing well and will continue to do well."

The timing of the announcement was perfect for Linger. He had already made plans for a special dinner Wednesday night, although it wasn't work related.

"I'm having dinner with my wife," he said. "We're celebrating our eighth anniversary."

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