Having been raised and educated
in nearby Hickory, Deal’s first TV job was at Charlotte’s WSOC-TV as a news
reporter and 'Today Show' cut-in anchor.
Vacationing WTVT General Manager
Eugene Dodson saw some of his WSOC reports and immediately gave him a call.
Dodson asked the rising news star to come to Tampa and join his
station’s rapidly expanding news department, and to fill a space recently
vacated by 11p.m. anchor Wayne Fariss.
Gene Dodson (left) brought Arch Deal to Tampa. Crawford Rice was News Director and anchor of the 6p.m. Channel 13 news
“Dodson actually wanted me to come to Tampa as soon as possible and paid all my expenses to do so,” Arch remembers. “It was something like early spring, 1958…I flew down and met news director Crawford Rice, who took me to dinner and began the courtship. Since normally the news director would do the hiring of all news staff, I foresaw a problem in that the general manager of the station had sort of pushed me on Crawford. That made me uncomfortable but, nevertheless, as head of the news department he was always gracious.”
Deal was offered $12,000 per
year, which he says seemed pretty good to him at the time, and all the Florida
sunshine he could handle to work as weekend anchor and as reporter for the
balance of his workweek. "I
was sold,” states Deal. In less
than a week, Deal made his decision to uproot his wife and two children to come
to Tampa. He later had three
additional children, all born in Tampa.
Once settled in Tampa, Deal took a good look at Channel 13 and the competition, and knew he'd made the right decision. “I was particularly impressed that a local TV station had devoted itself so passionately to delivering news, weather and sports with the fervor that Channel 13 had. Other stations weren’t putting nearly the money and energy into creating the great local news and other programming that I saw happening at WTVT."