Allen Strum - Chief Meteorologist
Chief Meteorologist Allen Strum provides forecasts for the 4, 5, 6 and 10pm weekday broadcasts at WEAR ABC 3. He has been awarded seals of approval from both the National Weather Association and the American Meteorological Society.
Allen grew up in San Diego. He left California to pursue a degree at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he earned a BA in Speech Communications. The first job out of college for Allen was at WBTW in the Florence/Myrtle Beach market of South Carolina. His first job was not in the weather department but as a reporter. The station lost two of its weather people at once, Allen filled in, and loved weather reporting. Allen became the weekend weather anchor for WBTW. During this time in South Carolina he covered hurricanes Bertha and Fran. This led to his decision to become a meteorologist. It was back to the books. After Allen moved to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1998, he obtained a BS in Geosciences with an emphasis in Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State University. He worked in Lexington for three years as the morning meteorologist for WTVQ, the ABC affiliate. There he forecast snow events and enjoyed thoroughbred horse racing.
Allen has been chief meteorologist for WEAR in Pensacola since 2001. In 2004 Allen played a critical roll in talking viewers through devastating Hurricane Ivan. Florida was hit by 4 major hurricanes that year. Ivan was a direct hit on northwest Florida. Less than a year after Ivan and while clean up was still underway, Hurricane Dennis slammed into northwest Florida and was followed by what was more than a glancing blow from Katrina. After dealing with colossal hurricanes both professionally and personally, Allen is well equipped as a broadcast meteorologist to handle another one but says he doesn't mind waiting forever for the next big one.
Allen enjoys living in Pensacola. During the warm season he hits the beach and body surfs when the waves allow. He plays tennis and enjoys watching baseball, football and college basketball. In his spare time, Allen loves to travel and has traveled throughout the U.S. and the world.
Amber Southard - Reporter
Amber joined Channel 3 in March 2012. She was once an intern at Channel 3 and graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelors degree in Broadcast Journalism. Originally from Crestview in Okaloosa County she spent the last two years reporting in Panama City Beach. Although she didnt venture to far from home she is happy to be back in Pensacola reporting for her hometown station. During Ambers free time she loves being around her family and her Maltese Roxie, swimming at the beach, watching movies, and college football. If you have any story ideas please send them her way.
Anthony Pura - Weekend Anchor
Anthony Pura anchors WEAR's Three In the Morning on the Weekends. During the week, he is out in the Northwest Florida communities covering news as it breaks and reporting on stories that matter to you.
He joined the news team in June of 2011 as a General Assignment Reporter.
Anthony grew up in Kerman, a small town in California's Central Valley. He went to UCLA and graduated with a bachelor's degree in mass communications and political science. Anthony also has a master's degree in broadcast journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Anthony began his journalism career in Central Nebraska, where he spent two years as a general assignment reporter. He also spent nearly a year reporting for the ABC station in Fresno, California. Though he's lived in many cities, Anthony says Northwest Florida is one place that stands out.
"I love how friendly the people are," he says. "I have met some of the best people ever working and living in this community."
In his free time, Anthony enjoys running, reading and watching sports. Even though he is now on this side of the country, he is still a loyal San Francisco 49ers fan. Anthony also tries to experience everything the community has to offer, including all the annual events and festivals held at the beach and downtown.
Anthony would love to hear from you. Feel free to shoot him an email about any comments or issues that concern you. And make sure to send him a message on facebook and a tweet on twitter!
Connect with Anthony:
Bob Solarski - News Anchor
Where are you from?
was born in Long Island, New York, raised in upstate NY, near Montreal, Lake Placid and Burlington, Vermont.
Where did you go to school?
I graduated from the State University of New York with a degree in Mass Communications.
Where did you start your career?
In 1987, I began reporting for WPTZ, and NBC affiliate in Plattsburgh, NY serving Montreal and Burlington as well. In 1989, I was promoted to News Anchor and Managing Editor, I also won several Associated Press Awards for Spot News, Documentary, Special Programming, Continuing Coverage, and Breaking News. Since coming to WEAR in March of 1994, I hosted a live call-in show called 'Extra' from 2003 to 2006.... and hosted 'This Week with Bob Solarski' from 1994 to 2005. I now anchor the 6pm and 10pm newscasts.
When did you begin working at WEAR-TV?
I accepted the anchor position at Channel 3 in March,1994. I am Host and Producer of Channel 3 News This Week with Bob Solarski. I have won several Florida Associated Press Awards, including Best Editorial Feature, and News Magazine.
What are your career highlights?
My career highlights include interviews with President Bill Clinton, Presidential Candidate Ross Perot, then Governor of NY Mario Cuomo, Senators Jeffords, Leahy, Graham, Mack, Moynihan,and D'Amato, as well as various other national and state figures. Continuous coverage of Hurricanes Erin, Opal, Ivan and Dennis are also some of my most vivid memories.
Do you have a family?
I now live in Gulf Breeze with my wife Jennifer, a native of Fort Walton Beach. We are the proud parents of twins.... a boy and girl born on Easter Sunday, 2006. My daughter Erika is a junior at Gulf Breeze High School. My parents are also residents of Gulf Breeze.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies include cooking, guitar, golf, sailing and computing.
Christian Garman - Morning Meteorologist
Meteorologist Christian is originally from Colorado, but he does call Pensacola home. Born in 1974, Christian was living in the city of five flags by the time he was four years old, and he's never left. Christian graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunications, and earned a second degree, a Bachelor of Science in Geosciences from Mississippi State University in 2005. Thanks to several years of experience, Christian has earned the American Meteorological Society's Seal of Approval, and the same from the National Weather Association. Christian joined the Channel Three News team in December 1995 as a production assistant. In May of 1996 he made his on-air debut by filling in for the weekend weather anchor. After this wonderful opportunity presented itself, Christian decided to pursue a career in weather because he loves the challenges that are put before him, especially during hurricane and severe weather coverage. Though Christian does find it challenging to be at his best during the hurricane coverage, he'd just as soon go 20 years without another tropical event.
One of the things that's kept Christian in the market for so long is his love for "Three In The Morning", and the people around him. "Our morning show allows me to show my sense of humor, and in fact that's encouraged. Not many jobs would afford me the same opportunity. Also, because I've been allowed to do some entertainment reporting, I've been able to interview a lot of people in show business. Some of the more notable interviews I've done include conversations with Kelsey Grammer, John Travolta, David Spade, Julianne Moore, and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon."
Christian was married in 2005 and he and his wife Sheree have two daughters, Rylee and Gracie. Add two dogs and a cat to the mix and home is never a bore,Christian enjoys playing golf as much as possible, watching movies, and hanging out with friends on the weekend. In fact, spending time with his friends is another opportunity for him to realize how lucky he is: "The best thing I can say about my job is that I have to get out of bed every day at 3:20 am, and I have no complaints. Many people I know, aren't due in until 9 am and they are miserable. For me, there's no better job in town."
Christina Leavenworth - Morning Anchor
Christina Leavenworth is a born and bred Florida gal! She's thrilled to be back home. She grew up in Niceville, FL but now lives in Pensacola and considers it home.
Christina joined Channel 3's news team in May of 2012 . Her dedication to news started at an early age, when she anchored her elementary school broadcasts in her hometown of Niceville, Florida. Upon graduation from high school, she studied journalism at Fordham University in New York City, where she interned at 20/20 and Primetime.
Her first full-time job took her around the world to Accra, Ghana where she spent five months working for Good Morning Ghana. From there, she was hired as an anchor and a reporter for a cable television station in the Poconos of Pennsylvania in 2006.
Prior to joining WEAR, she spent 3 years working for WALA and was responsible for all Florida news coverage for the station. She then moved to the Big Easy and joined WWL where she was the morning traffic and news reporter.
"I'm thrilled to be in Pensacola near family and friends. I knew this was where I wanted to be. I'm so excited to be a part of such a passionate community," she said.
In her free time, Christina plays and coaches tennis. She also volunteers with the Miracle League, along with many other organizations in the community. She enjoys taking her dog to the park, spending time at the beach, and exploring all the culture Pensacola has to offer. She trusts and thanks the Lord for whatever life may have in store.
She loves to hear your stories and wants to hear any news tips!
Dan Shugart - Sports Director
When did you start working for WEAR-TV?
I first appeared on WEAR-TV in March 1981, as a weekend sports anchor. It was my first television job. I moved to WEAR full-time in August of 1981 as a General assignment news reporter and weekend sports anchor. I was promoted to Sports Director in December 1982, and have held that position since.
Where did you get your interest in sports?
My interest in sports comes from my father, and an All-American Basketball Player at the Naval Academy in 1947. My dad was an assistant coach at the academy when I was born in Annapolis in 1955, and it was dad who fostered my avid interest in golf.
Where did you live when you were young?
Growing up in the Navy, I lived all over the country: Virginia, Rhode Island, Hawaii...but mostly California.
What sports do you play?
I played baseball and basketball in high school and made a rather pathetic attempt to "walk on" to the baseball team during my freshman year at UCLA. With my serious competitive career behind me at age 19, I turned to volleyball and rugby in college, volleyball, with its coed division was a good idea. Rugby, which led to three knee surgeries, was more debatable. My frenetic youth(ten homes in 17 years) carried over to my academic career, where I careened from a Political Science Major to Psychology, Philosophy, and finally settling into History after developing a deep interest(and after the dean of students suggested it was time his career moved on). Defying all academic odds, I graduated from UCLA in 1979 with a Degree in History
What do you do with your time off?
Reading historical nonfiction remains my primary leisure activity away from sports
When did you move here?
I moved to Pensacola in 1980, where my parents were stationed. Rear Admiral Ken Shugart was Chief of Naval Education and Training. My mom, Muriel, was extremely active in local charities, and served as president of Pensacola Symphony.
Where did your broadcasting career begin?
I started as a weekend news reporter, moved quickly to weekday news, and in the fall of 1980, was Play By Play Announcer for the Pensacola Wings semipro football team. That led to an audition with WEAR-TV and my first television job the following spring. In addition to my duties at WEAR, I also freelance for WSRE-TV's broadcasts of PJC Basketball. I was Play By Play Announcer for Fox's Sportsouth's syndicated broadcast of Pensacola Ice Pilots Hockey Game in 1997.
What do you like to do with your spare time?
I enjoy spending my spare time at the beach, where I love the sand and water and playing golf where, ironically, I try to avoid the sand and water. I also coach a basketball team in the Salvation Army Youth League.
Jared Willets - Morning Anchor
Are you married with children?
I have been married to Paula for over 25 years. Our son, Tyler, attends the University of North Florida.
Samantha, our Yorkie Dog, is twelve years old and still a pup.
Are you a native of Pensacola?
I moved here from New England in 1980. I now consider myself a near native. The Gulf Coast is my home and a great place to raise a family.
What do you do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of my spare time working on home improvement projects. When time allows, I enjoy riding my bike, boating and,of course, spending time at the beach.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Giving people information they can really use. It can be as simple as traffic problems or as important as hurricane evacuation notices.
Is there anything you dislike about your job?
I dislike being "the messenger" for the really sad news stories.
How does the early shift affect your family life?
The early shift works rather well for my family. Being home in the afternoon gives me the chance to run errands, do yard work and catch up on household chores or just relax and enjoy the afternoon. When most of the work force is just getting home and facing the "things to do list", I can relax and spend time with Paula and friends. But then..when the rest of the Gulf Coast is sound asleep, I'm up at 2:00AM.
Who are your broadcasting role models?
I have two broadcasting role models....Dan Ingram and Johnny Carson. Dan held down the afternoon show on WABC in New York for most of the 60's. Unlike the jocks today, he didn't have any writers or do scripted bits. He never had to stop the music to be entertaining. He could be funny six seconds at a time for four hours a day. Johnny Carson was unique. He has no equal. I admire his ability to effortlessly connect with guests and TV audience.
How did you get into broadcasting?
I hit the radio airwaves in 1970 on WNDY FM. WNDY was the campus radio station at Wabash college in Crawfordsville, Indiana. I was motivated to join the air staff by a a sign posted in my fraternity house that read "make money& meet girls!..be a DJ!" It seemed like a good idea. It didn't take long to discover that broadcasting was going to be my career path. Like many radio people, I spent many years "roaming from town to town, up and down the dial."
The switch from radio to television.
The move to television was simply part a natural progression. I often call television "radio with pictures." Radio is a great training ground for TV. Radio teaches you to connect with people using just your voice. It's a skill that enhances your ability to convey the emotion or feeling of a story to television viewers.
Have you ever done anything other than broadcasting?
There were a number of years when I was "off the air."I think my most notable "other job" was a professional skydiver. I captained several skydiving teams performing demonstration jumps throughout the southeast. I was the owner/operator of a drop zone where student and experience jumpers came to"burn up some sky." Although skydiving and running a drop zone are more fun than I could ever really explain, I hung up my parachute and left the business in order to spend more time being a husband and father. I no longer jump out of "perfectly good airplanes", but I'm still a skydiver at heart.
I feel fortunate to live on the Gulf Coast doing what I love... morning television.
Follow me on Twitter: @WEARJared
Jenise Fernandez - Reporter
Jenise Fernandez joined the Channel 3 news team in November 2012. After spending two years in Cajun Country (and eating more fried food than she cares to admit), Jenise is thrilled to be back in the Sunshine State! Born and raised in Miami, FL, she graduated
from Florida International University in 2010 with a B.S. in Communications and a minor in Psychology.
Before WEAR, Jenise was a reporter for KATC, the ABC affiliate in Lafayette, LA where she would shoot, write, and edit all her own news stories. Some of the stories she covered while at KATC include, covering the murder of college student, Mickey Shunick, following the traditional "Courir de Mardi Gras" on Fat Tuesday, covering the inauguration of Governor Bobby Jindal, contributing live reports during "Festival International de Louisiane", and providing coverage during Hurricane Isaac and the flooding of the Mississippi River.
Jenise began her career in broadcasting as a writer for WSVN in Miami, Florida. Prior to that, she interned at WPLG, WTVJ, and even appeared as a co-host for the Travel Channel's "Bridget's Sexiest Beaches." Jenise is also a former Miss Miami-Dade County and placed 4th runner up at the 2010 Miss Florida Pageant.
When not working, Jenise enjoys spending time with her big Cuban family. You can also catch her cheering on her favorite team, the Miami Heat! If you have any story ideas, or just want to say hello, feel free to send her an e-mail!
Jim Carmack - Weekend Anchor
Where are you from?
I was raised in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, but my family is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Go Steelers!
Where did you go to school?
I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in telecommunications from Ohio University, where I was a percussionist for the Ohio University Marching 110 and a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. I then studied Broadcast Meteorology through Mississippi State University.
Where have you worked?
The Home Shopping Network was my first television experience. That's where I met my beautiful wife, Tracy. She is from Pensacola, so we decided to move back, settle down and start a family. I have been at WEAR since 1996 as a writer/producer in the Promotion Department, and now in News since 2008. Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to report live from various events for Channel 3 News.
Other stops on my career train include WTWC-TV40 in Tallahassee and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh as a Security Guard.
What do I like to do when not at the station?
Spend time with my wife and our children. We are active in our church and other community organizations. Beach time is always great, and I enjoy watching and playing sports.
Kai Jackson - Special Correspondant
Kai Jackson is a veteran journalist with more than 27 years of experience covering local, national and international news as well as stories for affiliate and network television news. He's currently a national correspondent for Sinclair Broadcast Group. Previously he was an anchor and reporter for 20 years at WJZ-TV in Baltimore. He's covered some of the biggest stories of our day including the September 11th attack on America.
Jackson is the co-founder of a film company called DocYourmentary dedicated to telling unusual and untold stories of people and history. He's a member of several professional organizations including;
The Society of Professional Journalists
The National Association of Black Journalists
The International Documentary Association Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity
Kai received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from South Carolina State College. He received a Masters Degree in Film from American University. Kai is an avid gardener and reader and practices Shotokan Karate. He and his wife live in Maryland with their two daughters.
Kalie Desimone - Reporter
Hey y'all! Although I haven't quite mastered my Southern accent, the hospitality in Northwest Florida has made this Yankee feel very welcomed.
I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, but you can rest assured I am not an Eagles fan. Cowboys all the way! To the horror of Eagles fans everywhere, I was the only child who wore a Dallas starter jacket to school every day. Talk about getting nasty looks.
I attended Perkiomen Valley High School and was a huge theatre geek. I starred in many of the Spring musicals like The Sound of Music and Meet Me In St. Louis. I was also an anchor on the morning school news broadcast, PVTV. Maybe that's where I learned to love the thrill of live TV?
In the Fall of 2007, I packed my bags, mostly shoes and headed to Elizabethown College near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My favorite part of college was waking up to the smell of chocolate. Yup! That's right. My school was just minutes from the Hershey Chocolate Factory. At 'Etown', I studied Mass Communication, Political Science and Pre-Law. Extra curricular activities filled a lot of my time between classes and the occasional studying. I was a member of the Mock Trial Team, Etownian (school newspaper), Campus Entertainment Committee and used my funny personality in a Club called Sketch-E (A Saturday Night Live style show).
But my most memorable experience at Etown was the summer service project that took me halfway around the world to Vietnam. My parents were scared to death to send me, but they armed me with a tracking device. In Vietnam I traveled to more than a dozen cities and towns, visiting orphanages. At each orphanage, myself and about a dozen other students completed physical therapy session with infants and toddlers who are physically and mentally challenged and often left at institutions.
It was one life changing experience I'll never forget. I documented each orphanage my team visited in a short film. Despite being locked away from society and laying in hard metal cribs all day, most of the children's faces lit up as each of us students spoke to them. I wanted to bring all the orphans home but that just wasn't possible. I hope to one day return to the country and work with the children once again.
You would think all these activities would have been enough for me... But no. I also spent a lot of time making sure the broadcasting world was for me. I began with an internship at WPAZ radio. Shortly after I participated in the highly prestigious NEWSTUDIES at KYW Newsradio, a 24 hour- 7 day a week radio station. It was right about then, that I was bitten by the news bug and internships at WCAU NBC 10 Philadelphia, WTXF FOX 29 Philadelphia, WHTM ABC 27 Harrisburg and WMGM NBC Atlantic City NJ quickly appeared on my resume. I also had the chance to take on one of the most challenging feats in the broadcasting industry, a one man band- meaning I shot, wrote and edited several stories for Patch.com. That website is a hyper-local news source for people in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It was the experience carrying a lot of equipment and trucking through several feet of snow and icy roads, I decided I wanted to try someplace much warmer... Beaumont Texas sounded like a great idea at the time.
The summer weather in Southeast Texas took time to adjust to but the winter weather was beautiful! I enjoyed learning how two-step and loved catching bonfires that appear closer to the size of small wild fires. I guess everything is bigger in Texas. My parents are my biggest inspiration, mostly because if I didn't say that after all the money and time they've invested in me they'd kill me. Joking aside, My mom and dad are my best friends. Their support from sending care packages stuffed with treats from home and constant phone calls help the 1,200 miles between us seem far less.
I am most proud of my awards and recognitions in the broadcasting industry. I am the youngest member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, a highly prestigious organization that only admits those who have 10 years or more experience in the TV business. Through this organization I was given the opportunity to interview Kelly Ripa and several other famous broadcasters. I am a member of the National honors society: Scholars of Collegic OF Journalists, and since joining the KFDM family, I am honored to be a part of a Murrow award for Best Newscast and an Associated Press Award for coverage on Officer Bryan Hebert, a Beaumont Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty. Most recently I also received an award from the Press Club of Southeast Texas.
If you'd like to submit a story idea, fill me in on a great shoe sale or just say hi, drop me a line.
Kathryn Daniel - Reporter
Kathryn is a graduate from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunication. The gator grad also attended Mississippi State University for weather forecasting.
She joined the Channel Three News team in December 1998. The best part of Kathryn's job is being able to get a glimpse into people's lives and be welcomed into their homes. She gets to hear their story and have them tell it.
"Everyday is so different and at the same time, very moving. One day I'm out on a snake hunt, then the next having the privilege of being beside a family with a dying child."
Kathryn decided to have a career in television news because she's always loved writing and learning about other people.
"Television is especially exciting because of the live element. That certainly kicks it up a notch."
We asked Kathryn who her role model was or who inspired her. Kathryn told us: "My maternal grandmother, Kathryn Anne Prosser. She was such a delightful southern lady. Very warm, gracious, and funny too. She knew just how to treat people so that they felt important and special. Her time and interest in me always made me feel like I was what mattered the most in the world to her. It was an honor to name our son after her family."
When Kathryn isn't in the weather center or out reporting she loves spending time with her husband and her children.
"We all love to take our Miniature Pinscher dogs to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital to visit patients. We are also major SEC football fans. I root for Florida, my husband pulls for the LSU Tigers. Go gators!"
Kavontae Smalls - Reporter
Kavontae Smalls joined the Channel 3 News Team in April 2012. He was previously an intern at Channel 3 in 2010, and also worked as an associate producer and editor for the station in 2011.
Graduating from the University of West Florida with a Bachelors degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Political Science, Kavontae began his reporting career at WJHG in Panama City in the summer of 2011. While in Panama City, he turned daily stories on a variety of topics from local government issues, crime and fun feature stories out on the beach.
In June 2012, he ventured to the Midwest to join WKEF in Dayton, Ohio to report the news. While there, he covered a variety of stories such as the presidential campaign with visits from Governor Romney and President Obama. Dayton also offered Kavontae his fair share of breaking news featuring crime and local issues affecting people in Ohio's "Miami Valley".
Everything has come full circle for Kavontae as he made his return home, to WEAR in Pensacola. As a native Floridian, his stint in Ohio braving 10 degree weather during winter is just one of the many reasons hes glad to be back on the Gulf Coast, doing what he loves, telling stories of people in the community.
During Kavontae's free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. Other things that occupy his time include reading, traveling, politics, aviation and wrestling. If you have any story ideas, don't hesitate to shoot him an email or find him on Twitter and Facebook and he'll try to get your story on the news.
Connect with Kavontae:
Kristine Frazao - Special Correspondant
Kristine Frazao is an Emmy award winning journalist, with more than a decade of on-air experience. As the National Correspondent for Sinclair Broadcast Group, Kristine reports on the top political stories of the day along with investigative reports on government waste, fraud and abuse.
Prior to joining the Sinclair news team, Kristine was the White House Correspondent for RT America. She covered the 2010 and 2012 elections both on the road and in Washington, and anchored nightly newscasts on RT for three years as well. Also during her time at RT, she reported extensively on the impact of hydraulic fracturing or fracking in Pennsylvania, as well as the tragic rate of teen suicide on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Kristine was born and raised in San Diego, CA, where she also worked for four years as a general assignment reporter, working for the Fox affiliate (XETV) as well as the NBC affiliate (KNSD) where she received an Emmy for coverage of the Wildfires of 2007. She got her on-air start working in beautiful Savannah, GA at WJCL/WTGS, where she worked as the political reporter, covering City Council and County Commission. She also traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi to cover the damage and devastation from Hurricane Katrina.
Kristine loves living in the Washington, DC. area and covering politics. She spends her free time traveling, reading and going on adventures with her black lab, Chomsky.
Laura Hussey - Reporter
What is your job at WEAR?
I am a reporter, working primarily in Okaloosa County. I've lived here on the Emerald Coast since 1994, first in Destin and now in Fort Walton Beach. I am so proud to be a part of this great community.
What is your background?
I've worked in television and radio since I was in college. Before coming to Channel 3 in November of 2007, I co-hosted a country morning radio show in Okaloosa County. Previously, I worked at WDAF-TV, in my hometown of Kansas City. I've been lucky enough to have many different experiences in broadcasting, from hosting programs, to selling ads, to providing information and coverage during hurricanes.
Tell us about your involvement with the community.
Ive worked with the United Way, Covenant Hospice, the American Heart Association, and a great organization called Okaloosa Saves, that inspires people to "build wealth, not debt". I'm on the board of directors for Hero Hugs, founded by a young lady from Niceville who sends care packages to our troops. I also serve on the board of HeadStart Arts. I was an Honorary Commander in the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base in 2006 (Crows Rule!). There are so many people helping others in our community; I try to get involved and help spread the word whenever I can.
What do you do for fun?
I usually tell people that my job is my fun, because I get to meet so many people and have such a great variety of experiences. I also love cooking, yoga, reading, and walking on the beach.
Do you follow sports?
There will always be a soft spot in my heart for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Lena DeFlores - Anchor
Lena DeFlores can be seen daily on Channel 3 News First at 4:00, Channel 3 News at 9:00 on WFGX, and Channel 3 News at 10:00.
An Arizona native, Lena is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis on Mass Communications. During her senior year, she landed an internship in the news, production and digital content departments at KTVK-3 TV in Phoenix.
After representing her home state at the Miss USA Pageant, Lena moved to Los Angeles where she pursued her certification in Broadcast Journalism at UCLA. She also worked as an on-air host for the CW Network and on the sidelines for Fox Sports Network and HBO.
Lena joined Channel 3 News in March of 2011 as the morning traffic reporter. After demonstrating a strong commitment to journalistic ethics and a dedication to telling stories that matter to Gulf Coast residents, she was quickly promoted twice to the position of Morning Anchor.
When asked what brought her to Pensacola, Lena says, "The people! I've never been to a more friendly city and I can't wait to be a part of this amazing community."
Meg McNamara - Weekend Weather
Meg McNamara has been captivating audiences since she was a seven-year-old. You may have missed her early shows though as they were broadcasted from her living room with an audience of four, her brother, sister and parents.
Meg joined Channel Three as Weekend Weather Anchor/Reporter in May of 2014. She comes to us from Lewiston, Idaho where she was the main anchor at the CBS affiliate, KLEW-TV. In addition to anchoring the 5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 newscasts, Meg filled in for weather and hosted her own cooking segment. While Meg didnt uncover any hidden culinary talents in the kitchen, she did discover her true passion for weather. That passion has brought her across the country to Pensacola.
Meg grew up in Seattle but jetted off to LA where she graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Theatre Arts. During her senior year, she interned at the Dr. Phil Show, making enough of an impression that they immediately offered her a full time position. Meg spent two years there as the talent coordinator. Still, that lure of being in front of the camera sent her back to Seattle where she began her broadcasting career at KIRO, the CBS affiliate, primarily as online reporter.
Meg is thrilled to bring her sunny disposition to the Sunshine State and honored to be a part of such a talented weather team! You can catch Megs forecasts every Saturday and Sunday in the mornings and evenings. She also feature reports during the week. If that dose of her isnt enough, make sure you find Meg on Twitter and Facebook. She loves being able to interact with viewers through social media.
Connect with Meg:
Ricki Vann - Reporter
Ricki joined the Channel 3 news team in April 2014. Born and raised in Sebring, Florida, her broadcasting career kicked off at her hometown's country radio station WWOJ 99.1 FM. She started off as an intern for the station and several months later she was asked to be their Friday Night disc jockey.
In 2011, she moved to Gainesville, Florida to attend the University of Florida. Go Gators! She majored in Telecommunications, News and specialized in Sport Management and Reporting. While pursuing her degree she worked at WRUF Country 103.7 FM "The Gator" where she was the morning and afternoon traffic reporter. "The Gator" called her "Ricki Bobbi with the fastest traffic!" At UF she was a reporter for WUFT-FM and TV.
In the summer of 2012, Ricki received an internship in Nashville, Tennessee at Country Music Television under CMT Radio Live Host, Cody Alan. Ricki worked for WFBD BLAB-TV in Pensacola, Florida in the summer of 2013. She was a host, producer and worked on the sales team for a show called Coastal Life. "Working for BLAB-TV gave me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and make great friends in this area."
When Ricki is not out in the field reporting she loves to spend time with her husband and going to the beach. "We love Pensacola Beach. It's where he asked me to marry him and it's where we fell in love with this area."
If you have a news tip, Ricki Vann would love to HEAR about it!
Connect with Ricki:
Rob Brown - Reporter
I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and while I love "The Big Easy", I grew up on the beaches of Ft. Walton Beach, and call those white sands and emerald waters home. I graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 2003, where I was a state award winning Sports Editor for the school paper. I went on to write for the FSView, the official paper of the Florida State University, before returning home and finishing my Broadcast Journalism degree at the University of West Florida.
Since 2007, I've hosted multiple shows for the largest sports talk radio network in the Florida Panhandle, and have traveled around the nation covering events including the Super Bowl, the SEC Championship game, boxing matches, the Senior Bowl, and the annual Army/Navy rivalry game. Some of my career highlights include calling play by play for, and interviewing, legendary boxer (and Pensacola's own!) Roy Jones Jr. in the ring after his final victory, catching a pass from Saints Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, meeting Alabama head coach Nick Saban on the sidelines at Bryant-Denny stadium, throwing out a first pitch for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, and shaking President Barack Obama's hand on the sideline of the Army/Navy game.
I started reporting for WEAR in October of 2013, and love every minute of it. The opportunity to share information and interact on a daily basis with the people of the area where Ive grown up is an honor, and nothing is more pleasing than having someone say, "I had no idea, thank you!"
I live with my much better half, Angela, our dog, Iko, and the real SuperGirl, Kaylee, the only person I know who asks more questions than I do.
I'm an enormous fan of the New Orleans Saints, and my favorite sports memory of all was hugging my dad after we won our first Super Bowl (WHO DAT?!) I am a fan of LSU (where my family went,) and FSU (where I paid tuition,) and love purple, garnet and gold. I also support the Atlanta Braves. I LOVE soccer, where I follow Chelsea, and can be found sporting red, white and blue every time our international soccer team competes.
I play in an 80's cover band called Shenanigans, and believe there wasn't a better musical generation than the 1980's.
I am a member of the Okaloosa County All-Sports Association. I have done extensive work with the Boy's and Girl's Club of the Emerald Coast, the Emerald Coast YMCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Emerald Coast, and many other charities throughout the area.
My old man, Bob Brown Jr., pushed me to chase my dream of being on TV, and its in his memory that I do this job. And I promise the people of the Emerald Coast I will do the best I can to be fair, honest, and thorough with all my work.
Connect with Rob:
Sheila Gray - Special Correspondant
Special Correspondent Sheila Gray reports on issues affecting women and families in Sinclair Broadcast Groups Family 411 reports. She is a native of Columbus, Ohio and studied at the prestigious Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She began her career in Charleston, West Virginia, eventually being named the 6 & 11 p.m. anchor at WSAZ-TV. She was recognized by the West Virginia Associated Press for her reporting. Sheila's next stop was Cincinnati, Ohio, where she co-hosted the Fox 19 Morning News. She is happy that her alarm is no longer sounding at 2:30 a.m. and is looking forward to this new chapter in her career, and a new broadcasting family with Sinclair. Sheila and her husband Ric are the parents of four children, Kasey, Kari, Katie, and Kari
Steve Nissim - Weekend Sports Anchor
The New York City native and Florida State graduate started his career at Channel 3 in April 2000.
From the beginning, Steve always wanted to be a sports reporter in some capacity. "In college I dabbled in radio and print as well, but I enjoyed TV the most. It's the best medium to share my passion about sports."
Steve finds it hard to pin point his favorite part about the job, but really enjoys it all. "Heck, they pay me to talk about sports and I'm going to do that anyway...you can't beat that. If I had to choose one aspect it would be covering games in person. I love being there, soaking up the excitement and intensity."
In the world of sports the Pensacola area has been a place where several athletes have gone on to do great things. "Roy Jones Jr., Emmitt Smith, Derrick Brooks, Don Sutton, Justin Gatlin...just for starters. From pro golfers to NBA players, Northwest Florida is well represented. It's very impressive and a joy to cover."
When Steve is away from the newsroom and not on the job he's out on the basketball or tennis court. Along with astronomy, art history, movies and reading, Steve enjoys spending time with his lovely wife Amanda above all else.
Sue Straughn - News Anchor
When did you begin working for WEAR 3?
I began in 1973 as a Clerk Typist
What is your current position?
News/Anchor / Public Affairs Director, Producer / Host Straughn & Company (public affairs program), Founder / Organizer Communities Caring at Christmas campaign
Previous positions held:
Clerk typist Traffic Manager Public Service Director Program Director Assistant Operations Manager Producer / Host of talk Shows: Dimensions 1977-1995 Focus 1981-1984 Medicine Today 1978 Smile America 1978 Sunday Extra 1984-1987 Spotlight on Youth Talent Competition / Telethon 1988-1994
What are some of your special interests?
Children's Initiatives and reading.
In what ways are you currently involved with the community?
United States Magistrate Judge Selection Panel Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS)(appointed by U.S. Secretary Department of Defense, 1995-1998)(Quality of Life Subcommittee Chairman and Executive Committee 1997 - 1998) Favor House Board of Directors Children's Advocacy Center Board of Director First Book of Pensacola (Founding Board member, Chair 1999 - Present) ARC Gateway-Escambia County (Child Development Committee Chairman) Council on Aging of West Florida Foundation Board of Directors (Past Chairman) Levin & Papantonio Family Foundation Board of Directors Golden Key National Honor Society Honorary Member American Red Cross Board of Directors (Ex-officio) Escambia County Juvenile Justice System Arbitrator Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Escambia County (Founding member) Catholic Charities Advisory Board AmSouth Bank Board of Directors Escambia-Pensacola Local Housing Partnership Hospice of Northwest Florida Foundation Board of Directors FSU Windstorm Damage Mitigation & Energy Advisory Committee
Previous Community Involvement:
Escambia County United Way Board of Directors (1995 Campaign Chairman) Lakeview Center TeenLine Advisory Board Envision EscaRosa Steering Committee World Centers of Compassion for Children Board of Directors Pensacola Symphony Board of Directors Junior Achievement Classroom Facilitator Florida Study Commission on Employment Opportunities and Self-sufficiency (Appointed by Speaker of the House) P.A.C.E. Center for Girls Board of Directors and founding member Chief Judge's Task Force on Children Escambia A.I.D.S. Services and Education Advisory Board Baptist Hospital Speech and Hearing Board National Coalition of 100 Black Women Big Brothers Big Sisters of Escambia County(Founding Board Member) Pensacola-Escambia Clean and Green Commission West Florida Regional Medical Center Women's Life Center Northwest Florida Safety Council Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Trustees Leadership Pensacola Board of Trustees (1992 Curriculum Chairman, 1993 Board Chairman) Children's Home Society Board of Directors Lakeview Center Child Development Advisory Committee First Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee (Appointed by Florida Bar Association) Escambia County Sickle Cell Foundation Escambia Community Schools Advisory Board Florida Junior Miss Board of Directors Pensacola Junior College Equal Opportunity/Equal Access Committee Northwest Florida Girl Scout Council Escambia County Child Protection Team Advisory Board MADD Escambia County Chapter
Awards & Recognition:
2001 Liberty Bell Award, Escambia-Santa Rosa Bar Association 2001 Judge John P. Kuder Family Values Award, Scottish Rite of Freemasonry 2001 David R.Thomas (Wendy) Child Advocate of the Year, Children's Home Society 2000 Pensacola Rotary Sandra Robinson Award for Service Above Self 2000 Florida Council on Aging Media Award 2000 Child Advocate of the Year; Honorary Guardian Ad Litem, First Judicial Circuit 1999 Honorary Foster Parent, Escambia County Foster Parent Association 1999 25 Most Powerful Women in Northwest Florida Business (named by Climate Magazine, January-February 1999) 1999 Escambia County Juvenile Justice Council Citizen of the Month, January 1999 Women of Distinction Award, Northwest Florida Girl Scout Council 1998 Department of Defense Civilian Service Award, Secretary William Cohen 1996 Associated Press Award for Public Affairs Programming (TownHall: Juvenile Crime, From Hopscotch to Handguns II) 1995 Junior League of Pensacola President's Award 1995 Small Business Administration North Florida District Media Advocate of the Yr. 1994 Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge George Washington Medal of Honor 1993 Kiwanis Club Civic Award 1993 NAACP Pyramid Builder Award for Community Service 1992 Florida Public Relations Association Volunteerism Award 1992 Florida Mental health Council Citizen Advocate of the Year 1992 Escambia Association for retarded Citizens Pearl Nelson Advocacy Award 1991 United Way of Escambia County Distinguished Community Service Award 1991 Top Ladies of Distinction Outstanding Community Service Award 1991 Florida Volunteer Citizen Social Worker of the Year (National Association of Social Workers) 1991 Sons of the American Revolution Silver Medal Award 1991 C.E. Carr Lifetime Community Service Award(Greater Pensacola Community Organizations) 1991 J.C. Penny Spirit of American Woman Achievement Award 1990 Gayfers Career Council Woman of the Year 1990 FTP/NEA School Bell Award for Journalistic Excellence, TV Public Affairs Programming (Townhall: Drugs, Our Future on the Line) 1990 Pensacola Junior Woman's Club Woman of the Achievement Award 1989 Northwest Florida Women's Hall of Fame Inductee 1988 Pensacola Press Club Awards (5) for news series on plight of the homeless (Broken Promises) 1988 Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award (only 50 awarded worldwide) 1986 Professional Leader of the Year BIP Award, Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce 1986 FTP/NEA School Bell Award for Journalistic Excellence, TV news series (Sex and the Student Body) 1986 Intown Business Women's Club Business Woman of the Year 1985 FTP/NEA School Bell Award for Journalistic Excellence, TV news series (Babies Having Babies)