Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA announced last night that anchor Jennifer Leigh would replace a Tampa Bay local news legend, Gayle Sierens, who has been with the station since 1977. Leigh will assume the role of 11 p.m. anchor in January–though Sierens is off for the rest of the year, so Leigh effectively has taken the role already. She’ll replace Sierens at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. next May.
Leigh told the Tampa Bay Times it’s a humbling promotion:
“It’s still pretty surreal,” Leigh, 42, said. “I’m just really, really honored.”
For the past two and a half years, Leigh has anchored WFLA-Ch. 8’s 7 p.m. news show. She began her career with WFLA in 1993. A fifth-generation Floridian, she grew up in Lakeland and studied mass communications at the University of South Florida.
She said taking over for her mentor is a dream come true.
“It’s not all about me getting a promotion I’ve dreamed of, but filling the shoes of someone that is so beloved in this community,” Leigh said. “The magnitude of that is not lost on me.”