FTVLive was the FIRST to tell you that WTSP in Tampa had fired popular meteorologist Jim Van Fleet.
The station has been flooded with posts on their social media, pleading with them to bring back Van Fleet. An online petition to bring him back at a goal of a a couple of hundred. It was now over 600 and growing.
Despite all the efforts, the chance of the station bringing back their fired weatherman is about the same as the chance for snow today in Tampa.
But, it does show that viewers still care about the talent.
This letter from an 11 year old boy was passed along to FTVLive. Honestly, we doubt that the author is really 11, but it's the thought that counts:
7950 Jones Branch Drive
McLean, Virginia 22107-0150
Dear Mr. Lougee :
My name is Jack Nolan and I am 11 years old. I live in the Tampa Bay area in Florida. I am writing to you to express my concern about TEGNA firing Jim Van Fleet from Channel 10 News, WTSP. I don’t think you realize how important Jim is to the viewers of 10 News. So please allow me time to explain. The weather in Tampa, and Florida in general is very erratic. It can go from beautiful and sunny to dangerous lightning in the blink of an eye. My family has only been here 18 months. When we moved here, I watched all of the local newscasts for a week. I want to be a meteorologist when I grow up, so it is important for me to have a meteorologist I can look up to. Without a doubt, Jim was the most accurate forecast. In these 18 months, he has never gotten it wrong. Not once. I told my mom and dad that we had to watch 10 News because Jim was the best meteorologist. Not just in Tampa, but the best I have ever seen. We are originally from Chicago and lived in Wisconsin as well. So I have seen some pretty important meteorologists and he is tops. One afternoon, he tweeted rain would be hitting I-75 at 4 p.m. We were driving there. At exactly 3:59, it started to rain. That’s how accurate he is in his reports. Details matter to him.
In January, our area got hit with very bad tornadoes. Jim warned us a few days early that the weather would be bad that day and that we should pay close attention to the weather. Late at night, he tweeted out that they were live on the air with updates. My mom put the TV on and watched him. My mom has been in 3 tornadoes, so they scare her. Usually, she flips out and hides in a closet. Jim was so calm and rational that he kept her from flipping out. Even when he explained that it was time to take shelter from the storm, he did it in a way that kept us calm. He stayed on air all night making sure that everyone was safe. He probably saved countless lives that night. And he definitely saved my mom from losing it.
Another night, he tweeted out about a possible tornado being spotted. My mom wasn’t sure where that was compared to where we live and Jim actually answered her tweet and told her where we live we were totally safe. That’s the kind of man he is. He truly cares about the people of Tampa. He’s the type of man I hope to be when I grow up. Someone who works hard and takes his job seriously. He isn’t just a weather reader. Anyone watching him knows how much he loves what he does. You should have been proud to have him representing your company.
A week before this happened, I got to meet Jim. We went to the studios. I thought he’d just say hi and then go on his way. But he talked to me. He really talked to me. Like I mattered to him. I have Asperger’s. Most adults ignore me because they think I can’t or won’t speak. The ones that do talk to me treat me like I am some dumb little kid. Not Jim. He knew I wanted to be a meteorologist. He told me all about his job. He showed me how he does it. I have never been as happy as I was during that hour. He gave up his dinner break to talk to me. That’s the kind of man he is.
Everyone in Tampa Bay depends on Jim for our weather. Not just for knowing when it will be nice out. We depend on him to keep us safe. When Hermine hit, he was the only one that accurately predicted the path. When Matthew hit, we had no one to keep us safe. I’m not criticizing Bobby Deskins because I have never met him. But he is not good at his job. He makes so many spelling mistakes on his graphics and his Twitter and Facebook. I did better in first grade at spelling. For instance, he just tweeted out that “diet air” is coming. How can we trust him with our safety? During Matthew, the entire weather team just kept tweeting to check the app. How is that helpful? Jim always tweeted the exact info we needed and managed to fit it in 140 characters and still spell it correctly. We can’t get accurate reports from 10 News now. And as I said, weather is everything in Florida. So we have to switch to other stations to get our weather, so what is the point of watching 10 News at all? There is none. Do you really want to lose viewers?
I’m really sad that you made this choice. I’m sad Jim isn’t on TV anymore. I’m sad that he may have to leave Tampa now. But you can fix this. You can give him his job back. Not just for Jim or for me, but for all of Tampa. We need him.