"Good Morning America" weatherman Tony Perkins, who left WTTG six years ago to join the ABC morning show, is returning to the local Fox station early next year as the station's morning weathercaster.
Perkins announced his departure from "GMA" in an e-mail to staffers yesterday. "I worked for Channel 5 [WTTG] for over seven years before coming to GMA, and the chance to once again be part of that family is too good to pass up," Perkins wrote.
His last day at "GMA" is Dec. 2; he will begin at WTTG on Jan. 3.
WTTG has been without a permanent morning weathercaster since July, when Tom Sater abruptly left the station without explanation from management.
Perkins will be part of the station's "Fox Morning News" team from 5 to 9 a.m., but WTTG General Manager Duffy Dyer said the station also is looking to provide him with a "special role" outside his meteorological duties. "He did a lot of different things for ABC," Dyer said. "He broke out of his weather role to do things along the lines of unique special segments that had a nice humorous twist to them . . . from gadgets to cooking segments."
Dyer and Perkins's agent, Amy Goldson, would not discuss the details of his new contract; Dyer described it only as a "long-term agreement."
Perkins's contract with ABC was to expire next year, but Goldson said she negotiated an "early out" clause last May. "Basically, it came down to a decision that he just wanted to be home," "GMA" spokeswoman Bridget Maney said.
Although his "GMA" gig has kept him in New York, Perkins still lives in Fairfax County with his wife and 2-year-old son and commutes home on weekends. In a recent Ebony magazine profile, Perkins was blunt about his situation at ABC. "I'm tired of doing the commute," he told the magazine. "So I'm hoping we can change our present living situation right now. I just want to go home and be with my family every night."
Perkins did not return calls left at his office and did not respond to an interview request made through his agent.
Perkins toyed with returning to Washington in 2004 when his last contract with ABC expired, meeting with Bill Lord, WJLA's vice president of news. "There was an offer made and the parties weren't able to come to terms," Goldson said about those negotiations.
Perkins, who grew up in the area and graduated from Alexandria's Mount Vernon High School, began as the weatherman for WTTG's morning show in 1993. He was bumped up to the anchor desk in 1998.
Perkins leaves ABC in the middle of the morning show war between "GMA" and NBC's first-place "Today." In the past five years, "GMA" has cut the gap with "Today" from 2 million viewers to 500,000. One week last season, "GMA" came within 40,000 viewers of its rival, but "Today" has maintained a 513-week winning streak among all three morning shows.
Although Perkins will now be seen by a fraction of the 5 million people who see him on any given morning on ABC, Goldson said WTTG's ownership by Fox will open other doors for him. "We do expect that Tony will be contributing in a variety of ways to the other Fox-owned divisions," including Fox News Channel and Fox's entertainment division, Goldson said.
Perkins is not the first personality in this market to jump from the national stage. Former CNN anchor Leon Harris joined WJLA in 2003 as its main anchor. Also that year, Derek McGinty finished a brief stint at ABC News to join WUSA.