Sam Kouvaris, Longtime Jacksonville Sportscaster, Officially Done At WJXT-Channel 4
Sam Kouvaris and WJXT-Channel 4/News4Jax officially parted ways Wednesday after a 37-year run, unable to reach an agreement on the sports director’s future role since his contract expired on March 31.
While the 62-year-old Kouvaris — the longest-tenured, on-air talent in WJXT history after news anchor Tom Wills — wanted to keep working, he couldn’t come to an acceptable resolution with the independent TV station, according to our Florida Times-Union news partner.
Kouvaris told the Times-Union he offered WJXT several full-time and part-time proposals at a salary reduction up to 50 percent, but the station had other options in mind, which led to the breakup.
Editor’s Note: WJCT News has news partnerships with WJXT-Channel 4/News4Jax and The Florida Times-Union, which is the source of this story. News4Jax’s Cole Pepper is also a sports analyst for WJCT News.
WJXT general manager Bob Ellis, who was in the same position when Kouvaris signed a five-year contract in 2013, declined to get into specifics about any discussions regarding a renewal. The station and Kourvaris’ agent, Paul Harden, had been crafting an exit strategy the past three weeks, though Ellis contends the station wanted Kouvaris to stay.
Kouvaris, who had been employed by Channel 4 since May, 1981 after a three-year tenure with WCBD-Channel 2 in Charleston, S.C., was diplomatic about his departure.
“Channel 4 has had such a positive impact on the community in the nearly four decades I’ve worked there,” Kouvaris said in a statement. “I’ve been incredibly proud and grateful to have been part of that. I’ve built many lifelong relationships in and out of the station. I’m sure those will continue.”
Kouvaris did tell the Times-Union: “We just had different visions of the future and when we couldn’t find a middle ground, we decided together the time was right to explore other opportunities.”
A joint statement released by WJXT and Kouvaris, which took plenty of back-and-forth negotiating to get both sides to agree on the terminology, read in part from Ellis: “When you’ve worked together as long as Sam and WJXT have, there’s a mutual respect allowing both parties to have an equal voice in decisions like this one. We worked closely with Sam and we both came to the conclusion the time was right. As I’ve said, he’s the most talented sportscaster in town and his unique analysis on local sports is unmatched.”
Ellis – who was in the same position when Kouvaris signed a five-year contract in 2013 -- declined to get into specifics about what the station offered Kouvaris, whether it was a full-time role or just sporadic individual contract assignments. Regardless of what transpired in negotiations, it’s evident there was a clear disagreement about what each side thought constituted a fair contract.
Kouvaris, who hasn’t been on the air since March 27, says he would prefer to pursue opportunities in the Jacksonville market.