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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real EstateFlorida.)

CLEARWATER, FL-As a television reporter, Ned Roberts used to be ready at a moment’s notice to react to a hot topic, talk to the appropriate parties and give presentations immediately. His new job, as an investment sales associate with the Ross Realty Group, isn’t entirely different from all that.

“You’re always on the move,” Roberts tells GlobeSt.com during a recent interview at the company’s Clearwater office. “In TV, when you have a breaking news story, you drop everything you are doing and you go out on it. It’s the same way when you have a prospect who is interested in buying a building or leasing space.”

Roberts’ transition from an eight-year career on the air to a less-visible role in commercial real estate has gone smoothly, with the help of a fair amount of family background. He says his great-great-grandfather had a development firm in New Orleans and his father was a commercial broker in Boston, and he knew that’s what he wanted to do if he ever decided to get out of the media business.

A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Roberts worked briefly at a TV station in Lexington, KY before moving to WJXX in Jacksonville, where he met his wife, Michelle. He spent five years at WTSP, a CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg, where he wrote, reported and produced numerous Emmy award-winning stories.

Among his most prestigious reporting honors is an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2003 for a story about Amos King, a Florida death-row inmate who was granted a stay of execution while Roberts investigated his conviction. Roberts was also recognized for his extensive local coverage of Terri Schaivo, a St. Petersburg woman on life support whose story made national headlines, leading to her controversial death in 2005.

It was that same year that Roberts decided to make a career move, having gone through enough of the sacrifices of working odd hours without the assurance of career advancement that most TV reporters pursue. “It may be incredible professionally,” he says, “but it can be detrimental from a personal standpoint.”

Before he joined Ross Realty, Roberts spent a few years as sales and marketing director for Ativas Development Group, a Tampa-based firm specializing in residential condominiums. As both the condo and media markets began to wane, and with a new son at home, he began to look more seriously at investment sales after a chance meeting with local commercial real estate veteran Elliott Ross.

“I haven’t had many other associates come in who could pick things up as quickly as he has,” Ross says of Roberts. “He’s going to be a star.”

Other commercial real estate professionals have taken a similar career path as Roberts, including Kyle Burd, principal and Tampa region vice president with Orlando-based Eola Capital. Before starting his current career in 1985, Burd was a sports anchor at a CBS affiliate in Fargo, ND, as well as a correspondent for ESPN.

Burd say he relates the similarities between TV and CRE to his own crew at Eola Capital. For one thing, no two deals or stories are ever the same. Also, presentation skills and credibility are highly important in dealing with prospective buyers or tenants.

“It’s very similar to what you do as a real estate practitioner,” Burd says. “Real estate is kind of a personal thing, especially in the private equity market. You have to ask questions people may not want to answer.”

Roberts says talking to people is the one thing he thought he would miss about TV reporting, yet he still does plenty of that in his new line of work. He points out that everyone’s lives are impacted by commercial real estate many times throughout a given day.

“One day I could be talking to a mechanic leasing space in an industrial building, the next day I’m talking to the owner of a $10-million office property,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

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