Longtime anchor Bob Hite has returned to WFLA. Sort of.
Hite, who was a fixture at the WFLA anchor desk for three decades before retiring in 2007, is now hosting a half-hour infomercial airing on the NBC-affiliate.
In the “special broadcast” from local health care provider Optimum Health Care, Hite promotes the company’s Medicare Advantage plan by trading on his long career as a journalist.
“As a news anchor and photojournalist, I’ve spent over 40 years researching and reporting stories I felt were important to improve people’s lives,” Hite says in the infomercial, before declaring his commitment to helping people understand the medicare system.
Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times spoke with Hite about the ethical questions that the program raises, having a journalist leverage his career to pitch a product.
“I think it’s clear to anyone what I’m doing,” Hite, 63, told Deggans, “anyone who knows me from my days as a newsman knows I’ve been retired for years.”
“The only products we take on are products I believe in,” he added. “And I have to have total script control.”