Meteorologist Kelly Bates, whose departure from Channel 10 sparked outrage in RI, lands on Channel 6

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“I’m the luckiest person in the world,” Bates said in an interview with The Boston Globe on Wednesday. “They say it gets darkest before dawn. It’s kind of proof of that.”

Before the Channel 6 opportunity arose, Bates thought she would never be on television again. She turned 50 in March, months after leaving the role she held at Channel 10 (WJAR) for nearly two decades. The people you see on TV news are usually working on contracts. And when Bates most recently woke up, the station made her an offer she had no choice but to refuse, she said.

A few years ago, she had become a part-time meteorologist. But she could replace other people if they were on vacation, so she could make it work financially. Those replacement shifts began to be assigned to another person (who, Bates pointed out, she doesn’t blame for the situation and of whom she still thinks highly of). The loss of these replacement shifts was a major financial blow. The station also repeatedly passed her over for her open full-time opportunities, she said.

In her contract negotiations, she had asked for the right of first refusal for replacement quarterbacks. The station said no. So she left.

“It became very clear that I was not wanted there,” Bates said. “I know they’ll deny it, but if you’re not going to work with me, you don’t want to work with me.”

(Channel 10 said at the time that it was saddened to see Bates decide to leave and wished him well in his future endeavours.)

The outpouring of support for Bates was immediate, sparked by a moving TikTok video she posted. It also helped her through difficult months, which she spent applying for many jobs and doing nothing with them. It was difficult for other reasons as well: his father, Gordon Bates, died in December.

“Not having his guidance through this, when it was literally the hardest time – it was tough,” Bates said. “It tested me and what I was made of. But I think he would be very proud of me today.

Today, Bates is moving towards a new job that she is absolutely thrilled to have. She will be officially introduced to ABC6 viewers later this week. His first weather weekend shift will be the weekend of June 11. Finally, she will have an answer for people who have approached her in public for the past few months and told her they’ve missed her on TV: she’ll be back. Just on a different channel – a channel that has consistently trailed Channel 10 and Channel 12 in ratings.

“I think maybe people used to watch a station just because they always did, because their parents always did,” Bates said. “I think people will give 6 a chance. There are more options there.

It all happened when an ABC6 employee told him to reach out to Allison Gaito, the Barrington native who has returned from Houston to take the reins as Channel 6’s news director. Gaito quickly responded and they opened a conversation that has now led to this work. And for information: it’s full time.

It’s kind of a homecoming for Bates. She previously worked weekend evenings at the station from 2000 to 2004, her first on-air job in that market. Bates, who lives in Coventry and is married with two children, is now ‘tickled pink’ to be back at ABC6, walking through the halls of the Providence station and noticing a sort of vibe she wasn’t not used to. People seem cheerful and happy. Everyone is rooting for each other. The weather team there is top notch, Bates said, emphasizing consistency.

“You have found a good home,” she said thinking. “Working in a place where you are wanted makes all the difference.”


Brian Amaral can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.

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