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Former WJAR meteorologist Kelly Bates said she hoped the attention she’s gotten after turning down her contract at the Providence, R.I. NBC affiliate will help spark a larger conversation about how women are treated in local TV News.
Bates, who told Newsweek the TV news industry is “unequivocally unfair” to women, was in the spotlight last week after she announced she was leaving her job as weekend morning meteorologist at WJAR after 17 years with the station.
“We’re held to standards that men aren’t. Period,” said Bates. “I believe this is the case in all kinds of industries of course, but TV news is the one I’ve worked in so I can speak to it. Maybe it’s our culture, or a relic from an outdated era.”
Bates said she didn’t think she’d work in the industry again after announcing her sudden departure from the station in an emotional TikTok. “As a 49-year-old round woman, it’s safe to say my television career is done,” she wrote on Twitter.
Fletcher Fischer, the business manager for the union that represents workers at WJAR, told The Boston Globe that Bates was offered a deal that was “insulting.” Fischer also said Bates, who worked part-time at WJAR, had to fill in for colleagues who took time off to make ends meet.
“I wasn’t happy with what my employment scenario developed into,” Bates said. “Sometimes you just have to move on. Such is life.”
A petition demanding Bate’s return now has nearly 10,000 signatures. Bates said she was “overwhelmed, humbled” and “mostly dumbfounded” by the support she’s received.
“I knew I had a modest fan base in Southern New England, but certainly nothing like this,” she said. “With the nature of my job I’m used to a little spotlight, but the focus I’ve received lately is extraordinary. I’m looking forward to getting back in the workforce and a return to some normalcy.”