September 29, 2013

Popular TV journalist turns job loss into opportunity

After being let go by WMTW, Shannon Moss hears from viewers that she is missed and decides to produce her own show.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

FALMOUTH - Shannon Moss remembers being told by former bosses that people either loved her or hated her.

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Shannon Moss received hundreds of supportive comments after she was dismissed from her morning anchor job at WMTW in June.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Shannon Moss interviews Police Chief Michael Sauschuck at Holy Donut in Portland for her self-produced local TV show.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

NEW LOCAL SHOW

WHAT: "Split Screen with Shannon Moss" is a new half-hour interview show hosted and produced by longtime Portland TV reporter and anchor Shannon Moss. Moss is also selling advertising and paying stations to air it.

WHEN: 9 a.m. Saturday on WPME (Channel 35); 11:30 a.m. Oct. 6 on WPXT (Channel 51); 10:30 p.m. Oct. 6 on WPME; and online at Shannonmoss.com

WHAT ELSE: The show will air three times a week, and there will be new episodes twice a month.

Not the kind of news a TV anchor wants to hear.

"It was my hair. Research showed that a lot of people hated my hair," said Moss, 43, who was born with outrageously curly hair. "When I went to Channel 8 (Portland station WMTW) I told the news director there would be an onslaught of negative reaction to my hair, and there was. My hair was very polarizing."

Moss overcame her curly hair to become one of Portland's best known and most popular TV personalities, but in June WMTW decided not to renew her contract and let her go.

Now she is hoping that her name recognition and community connections developed over 14 years on Portland TV will help her with a new show she's launching, "Split Screen with Shannon Moss." The half-hour interview show debuts next weekend on Portland stations WPME (Channel 35) and WPXT (Channel 51).

Since being dismissed from her morning anchor job at WMTW, Moss has gotten about 100 Facebook messages and emails from viewers wishing her well, asking when they might see her again and pledging to stop watching WMTW. Her Facebook post announcing her departure from WMTW got more than 270 comments.

Some viewers mentioned that they started watching her when she was a reporter and late-night anchor on Portland station WCSH (Channel 6) and followed her to WMTW. Moss began working on Portland TV in 1999, when she got hired at WCSH. She left there to take the morning anchor job at WMTW in 2007.

Moss served as celebrity host for a lot of events while at WMTW -- about 25 a year, ranging from Disney on Ice to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's fundraising walks. When she called the groups she did this kind of hosting for to say she no longer worked at WMTW, all of the groups said they wanted her to continue as their host.

"Someone from WMTW called me (when Moss was dismissed) and offered to send someone else to our events," said Sue Tidd, director of development for the MS society's Greater New England Chapter. "I said absolutely not. She's the highlight of these events. People always ask if Shannon's going to be there. Shannon's a rock star."

Viewers who followed Moss from WCSH to WMTW say her personality makes her stand out among local newscasters.

"I enjoyed watching her on 6 and found her on 8. I was so disappointed when suddenly she wasn't on anymore," said Elizabeth Pardoe, an artist and fine arts conservator from Alna. "I don't watch channel 8 anymore. I guess that's my protest. I was just drawn to her personality on the air. She always seemed to be enjoying herself."

Even though some people didn't enjoy her hair, Moss kept it curly for quite a while. It wasn't until 2007 that she decided to straighten it. She made the decision after her youngest son was born and her curls had loosened, and after she had endured years of comments about how it looked like animals were nesting on her head.

"It just became easier," said Moss of taming her wild hair. "After I did straighten it, the hate mail about my hair stopped."

TIME FOR FAMILY

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Moss walked down the road from her Falmouth home to meet her two sons, Quinn, 9, and Rowen, 7, as they got off the school bus.

As she and her boys walked back to the house, Moss informed them that Harry the heron, who visits their pond often, was not there that day. Then she asked about their day and what they had for homework. When they got in the house, Moss served her sons a plate of just-baked chocolate chip cookies (son Quinn called them "chocolate awesome" cookies).

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

20130918_ShannonMoss
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Moss walks from the school bus with her sons, Quinn and Rowen Hagerty. Having more time with them has been a benefit of leaving her TV station job.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Moss says her naturally curly hair caused a stir when she debuted on television in Portland. After she straightened it in 2007, she says, “the hate mail about my hair stopped.”

2003 file photo

 


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