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WFAA8's longstanding Santa's Helpers toy drive has dealt him out, signature spokesman Troy Dungan says (updated)

Pete Delkus and Troy Dungan at earlier Santa's Helpers event.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas will be without Troy Dungan's participation in Dallas-based WFAA8's annual Santa's Helpers toy drive.

Dungan, synonymous with Santa's Helpers for more than 30 years, said he has not been asked to join this year's campaign.

The station's longtime featured forecaster, whose last WFAA8 weathercast aired on July 18, 2007, had joined successor Pete Delkus on both the 2007 and 2008 Santa's Helpers drives.

"None of the executives (at WFAA8) have approached me about being part of the 2009 Santa's Helpers campaign," Dungan said via an extended email Thursday from Oklahoma City, where he was both visiting a grandchild and suffering from laryngitis. "When Kathy Clements was general manager, she told me that I would be a main component of Santa's Helpers as long as I wanted to be. She was moved 'upstairs.' Things change."

As of this early Friday afternoon writing, current WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin has not responded to an email sent early Thursday evening and a mid-morning Friday phone call asking for comment. Dungan was contacted after several unclebarky.com readers said they had heard that he wouldn't be involved in this year's toy drive.

A spokesperson for WFAA8 said Monday that the station will have no comment on Dungan's version of events.

"No sour grapes," said Dungan, who will be 73 on Tuesday. "Santa's Helpers is a great charity. I was its principal spokesman for 32 years. But to answer your original question, it was the management at Channel 8 and not me who decided on a 'transition.' "

Dungan said he got an inkling of Christmas future late last year, when he dropped by WFAA8 to do a "recording session for one of my commercial clients."

"By the back door I saw a stack of the 2008 Santa's Helpers posters -- with only Pete Delkus' photo and no photo or mention of me. I asked (a WFAA8 programming executive) about it, and he said he thought I would be pleased since I had helped bring Pete to Channel 8 and that now it was 'time for a transition.' "

But Dungan said that his partial services contract with WFAA8 "was the only one I ever had that actually called for my being paid for Santa's Helpers events that year. Since I felt obligated to keep my end of the bargain, I did work on 12 Santa's Helpers events, including all of the 'drive-throughs.' My name was never mentioned in any of the publicity for the Santa's Helpers campaign."

After stepping down as WFAA8's featured forecaster, the station "had the option to use me up to 25 days between July '08 and July '09," Dungan said. "I had worked five days on news/weather appearances before Santa's Helpers. I was never called back after Christmas for anything else."

Dungan, whose commercial activities include foundation repair ads that regularly appear on WFAA8, said he will be free and clear of the station on Jan. 19, 2010.

"I can, if I wish, go to work for any TV station in the D-FW market as long as it is not doing weather," he said. "Which is okay since I did the last weathercast I was ever going to do on July 18, 2007."