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

(Continued from page 2)

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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.

NEW JOB, NEW SCHEDULE

Moss took a morning anchor job at WMTW at least partly to be with her sons in the afternoon and at night, she said.

At WMTW she built a loyal following, even though she straightened her hair and didn't escape dangerous situations anymore. She did interviews, in-depth stories, straight news and a consumer series where she tried out "as seen on TV" type gadgets, to see if they worked.

Viewers who liked her on WMTW said they enjoyed the way she spoke, the way she seemed interested in her subjects and stories, and her apparent sincerity.

"She was a real professional with a great smile and positive attitude," said Jerry Knapp, a marina owner from Harrison who says he switched back to WCSH after Moss left WMTW. "She communicated well, without an abundance of chit-chat."

During her time at WMTW, when Moss was serving as an emcee or host at community events, that included four annual appearances for the National MS Society.

Moss' appeal as a host is evident to anyone who meets her, said Tidd, of the MS Society.

"She's a hugger, and as soon as you meet her you know why people like her," Tidd said. "She looks people in the eye, and she really connects. (Full disclosure: Both the reporter and a photographer on this story received hugs from Moss.)

WMTW let Moss go a day after her contract expired. She said she was told by management that viewers "weren't responding" to her.

But she and Hagerty did see a response, from the hundreds of viewers who contacted her or commented on her leaving WMTW.

The reaction to Moss' departure was unusual, especially since WMTW is often the least-watched of Portland's three local TV news stations, according to ratings. Its comparatively frequent anchor changes don't usually generate months' worth of viewer comments and questions.

Portland's other two stations have anchors who have been in place for 20 or 30 years -- including Kim Block at WGME (Channel 13) and Cindy Williams and Pat Callaghan at WCSH.

Moss decided that being let go was an opportunity, and that she might be able to make a go of her own show.

Her plan for the half-hour show is to do two filmed interviews each episode. One will be with a well-known Mainer or other public figure.

Author and fishing boat captain Linda Greenlaw will be among her first guests, as will Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck. For these interviews she'll talk with the subjects out of their usual element, in some place "unexpected."

She filmed the segment with Sauschuck at Holy Donut in Portland, and chatted with Greenlaw on a golf course.

The second interview in each episode will be with a person who is lesser known but is doing something extraordinary, said Moss.

Moss isn't ruling out a return to local TV news someday, but for now she's focusing on "Split Screen."

The show is all hers, as she is the host and producer, and has to sell the advertising to pay for it. She is paying the stations to air it.

"It's a lot to do, and sometimes I get sick of my own name, I say it so much," Moss said. "But I really think this is something I can do, tell people's stories."

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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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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