Plus, local dolphin's Super Bowl prediction.
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Today’s Forecast

78º | Partly cloudy | 24% chance of rain | Sunrise: 7:10 a.m. | Sunset: 6:19 p.m. | Tides | Old Tampa Bay | High: 5:04 p.m. | Low: 10:57 a.m. + 10:49 p.m. | Clearwater Beach | High: 1:30 p.m. | Low: 7:19 a.m. + 7:25 p.m.

🪇 Movers and Shakers: Preston Rudie
Preston Rudie is wearing a blue jacket and beanie with his arms spread wide. He is up a mountain and a blanket of clouds is behind him, stretching into the distance like a carpet.
The sky’s the limit for Tampa Bay. | Photo by Amy Pezzicara via Preston Rudie
As informed + engaged Tampa Bay area citizens, we are fully aware of the growth happening around us. From developments like Water Street Tampa, to transformations of historical spots like Armature Works, and significant financial interest in TBAY’s future, there has been plenty of change, and there is more to come.

In our new “Movers and Shakers” series, we’ll sit down with those helping shape the future of Tampa Bay.

One of these people is Preston Rudie — Founder and CEO of Catalyst Communications Group. Founded in 2017, the firm handles media relations and communications strategy for businesses + individuals, as well as nonprofit organizations.

Preston Rudie stands at the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro holding a Tampa Bay Lightning flag. The summit signpost is behind. He is wearing wintry gear, including a jacket, hat, and protective glasses.

There’s never a bad place to show off some TBAY pride.


Photo by Amy Pezzicara via Preston Rudie

In 2002, Rudie moved to Tampa Bay from Wisconsin and enjoyed over a decade of journalism at WTSP. That’s when the awards started rolling in, including 23 Emmys and six Edward R. Murrow awards. His people-first storytelling — like this — would set the stage for his career beyond the screen.

Today, the company takes care of communications needs for folks on the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Power 100 list. With Catalyst’s help, the Florida Aquarium shares how it protects our waterways, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority spreads the word about initiatives like free rides for veterans, and developers like KETTLER detail major plans shaping the city’s future — including Gasworx + Ybor Harbor.

“There’s nothing I won’t do within the company,” he told us, as he explained his culture-driven approach to employment. A glance at the leadership team at Catalyst reveals journalistic backgrounds throughout the business. When asked, Rudie’s explanation was simple: They understand deadlines, and they pick up the phone.

Outside of work, Rudie recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro — the tallest mountain in Africa. Why? He told us it was to take his own life back, restore a sense of personal balance, and show his daughter the fruits of hard work. Keep your eyes peeled for a documentary he’s working on about the experience.
Which influential Tampa Bay figure should we speak to next?
Monday, Feb. 12
  • Movie on the Lawn: “Barbie” | Monday, Feb. 12 | 6:30 p.m. | Sparkman Wharf, 615 Channelside Dr., Tampa | Free | Bring a blanket and settle in on the lawn to catch Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated flick.
Tuesday, Feb. 13
  • OE Book Club: “If Beale Street Could Talk” | Tuesday, Feb. 13 | 6:30-8 p.m. | Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa | $28+ | Enjoy wine + light bites alongside a discussion of James Baldwin’s classic novel of love in an unjust world.
  • Galentine’s Beer & Chocolate Pairing | Tuesday, Feb. 13 | 7:30-11 p.m. | Florida Avenue Brewing Co., 2029 Arrowgrass Dr., Wesley Chapel | $30 | Pair chocolate with brews at the taproom for a Galentine’s Day to remember.
  • Tampa Bay Symphony: “Music of the Heart” | Tuesday, Feb. 13, | 8 p.m. | Palladium Theater, 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg | $0-$25 | Soak in orchestral music from the Romantic era including Brahms’ “Symphony No. 4 in E minor.”
Wednesday, Feb. 14
  • Shuffleboard is for Lovers | Wednesday, Feb. 14 | 5-11:59 p.m. | Shuffle, 2612 N. Tampa St., Tampa | $5 | Get unlimited shuffleboard play all night long with a partner for five bucks each, while sipping on drinks in Tampa Heights.
  • Valentine’s Vows & “Girl Shy” | Wednesday, Feb. 14 | 7:30 p.m. | Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa | $15 | Take part in an en masse vow renewal before settling in for a showing of the 1924 silent rom com.
  • Gladys Knight | Wednesday, Feb. 14 | 8 p.m. | Mahaffey Theater, 400 1st St. S., St. Petersburg | $53+ | The seven-time Grammy winner has no shortage of memorable hits — listen to soul, pop, R&B, and gospel classics by the Burg’s waterfront.
Thursday, Feb. 15
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We’re fired up about Ribs on the Ridge happening this weekend
a man barbecues ribs on an open grill outside with people in the background
Pitmasters will gather from across the country to show off their skills + fill the air with the sweet smell of barbecue. | Photo via Unsplash
Make no mis-steak, TBAY — these pitmasters have a license to grill.

In the third + final leg of the Florida Triple Crown of BBQ’s three-event competition, talented pitmasters will come together to vie for some major bragging rights for being crowned the best barbecuer around.

Happening this Friday, Feb. 16-Saturday, Feb. 17 in Haines City, Ribs on the Ridge will treat guests to:
  • Live music + food trucks
  • Kids activities
  • Select purchases of competition eats
  • Florida Triple Crown of BBQ winner announcement + competition culmination festivities
News Notes
  • The Tampa City Council has rejected a proposal to build a condo tower on Bayshore Boulevard at the current site of Congregation Rodeph Sholom. A petition against the building garnered 1,500+ signatures, and the council eventually rejected the proposal in a meeting which went beyond 3:30 a.m. (Bay News 9)
  • Construction begins today on planned upgrades to Blake High School’s football stadium. The facility is being renovated by Tampa Bay Sun FC before the team’s inaugural USL season begins later this year. The stadium will undergo $6+ million in renovations, and will seat 5,000+ people.
  • Calling St. Pete residents — here’s your chance to raise your flooding concerns. Mayor Ken Welch + other officials are hosting a public forum tomorrow — Tuesday, Feb. 13 — from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 600 5th St. S. Register to take part. (St. Pete Catalyst)
  • Better luck next time, Nick. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s psychic mammal incorrectly picked the San Francisco 49ers to win this year’s Super Bowl. They were defeated 25-22 by the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas. (WTSP)
  • The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office helped reunite a kangaroo with its owner last week. Yes, you read that right. Deputies captured the animal in an apartment complex around 56th St. and Fowler Ave. on Thursday, Feb. 9, and gave it back to its owner after verifying registration documents.
  • The Cigar City is preparing to host a cigar + whisky festival at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The annual Big Smoke Meets WhiskyFest on Saturday, April 6. will feature 100+ whiskies and 30+ cigars for sampling, along with live music, food, and other entertainment. Grab tickets. (That’s So Tampa)
  • Discover a brighter financial future with Money Pickle, your gateway to personalized financial advice. Connect with vetted financial advisors, handpicked to provide fiduciary guidance that directly aligns with your goals for investments, retirement, and beyond. Schedule your complimentary video consultation.*
🪴 I don’t be-leaf it
The storefront at Leafy Luv Affair. The owners are stood alongside an array of green plants, as well as two dogs — a small white one and a larger grey one.
The store has enjoyed three years in the heart of Hyde Park Village. | Photo by Leafy Luv Affair
If you’ve wandered through Hyde Park Village in the last few years, you might have noticed one particularly jungly storefront. Leavy Luv Affair (1623 W. Snow Cir.) has announced it is closing for good at the end of this month, and time is running out to add 50 shades of green to your living room.

Self-described as “Tampa’s urban jungle for dreamy houseplants and bodacious blooms,” the small business is offering some final leafy treats + words of advice:
  • Head down to make the most of “unbe-leaf-able deals on plants, pots, macrame, plant care essentials, dried flowers, and leafy-inspired pillows and jewelry.”
  • Make sure that you or anyone you know uses up remaining gift cards.
  • Stay tuned for closing festivities.
This isn’t necessarily a final goodbye — Leafy Luv Affair has a blog with a whole host of tips + tricks designed to create a community of passionate plant parents.
The Buy
Beats Studio Buds, because you deserve an earbud upgrade. The Beats buds use active noise canceling technology for an immersive sound experience. Bonus: They’re sweat and water resistant, aka your new best gym buddy.
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The Wrap
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