In another week, one of the Tampa Bay area's most iconic and intense television reporters is calling it a career. Don Germaise, the first reporter hired at WFTS-Channel 28 in 1994, is leaving broadcast news on Fri., May 25.
Although some might remember him for his hurricane coverage (particularly in that spectacular year for inclement weather in Florida — 2004), I'll always remember the ABC Action News reporter for frankly, his high decibel delivery and idiosyncratic delivery.
In an 18-year career, Germaise obviously covered a variety of stories for the ABC affiliate, but nothing will replace his kamikaze stints in covering hurricanes, such as his reporting from Punta Gorda during Hurricane Charley in 2004.
Born in Pittsburgh, Germaise grew up in Massachusetts, and toiled at affiliates in West Palm Beach and Fort Myers before coming to Channel 28, which has become his last stop. He says the way to move up in the television news business is to leave for different markets, but he refused to consider that once his daughter Alexis was born.
"I made a promise when my daughter was born I would try to stay in the same market for the rest of my career so that she wouldn't have to move around, so she could stay in the same home, the same friends, because it's tough to move every 2-3 years when you're a kid," he told CL last week.
When asked to share an anecdote about him, longtime colleague Brendan McLaughlan shared a couple, including this hilarious story:
"My most vivid memory was when in the course of reporting on some punks shooting random pedestrians with a paint ball gun, Don took reporter involvement to an extreme level by taking a nearly point blank shot to the chest," the WFTS anchorman wrote to us. "In the report, he doubled over in obvious pain. Then, after the taped portion of the report aired, Don sat live on the anchor set, unbuttoned his dress shirt and exposed his chest to reveal a perfectly round red welt next to (and weirdly matching) his left nipple. One couldn't bear to look, nor could one look away."
Germaise is only 53, an age that most reporters don't voluntarily call it a career (with some notable exceptions, such as former St. Pete Times columnist Howard Troxler, who left the business at the age of 51).
The television reporter wasn't too specific when we speculated aloud to him earlier this month about how he could retire at such a relatively tender age.
"I'm lucky to be honest with you," he said. "I'm in a very good position where I don't have to work. I've been that way for quite awhile, so it's really just a question of what I want to do with my life. I still love TV, but there are other things I should be doing.
Those other things include being an agent for doing good. Germaise says he's already been in contact with agencies like Metropolitan Ministries, Ronald McDonald House, Hillsborough County school and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.