Published on Friday, 26 March 2010 23:56
Local television station news departments are fairly used to having revolving doors when it comes to staffers. They have often tended to come & go. Things were a little different over the past week or so, though. The last few days, there was no revolving door at the local television news stations -- it seemed the only door used was an exit. Numerous Chicago TV news people exited or found out they they were being forced out the exit in the last seven to eight days. Here is a look at some of the more notable exits...
WGN-TV said good bye to reporter Antwan Lewis yesterday. Lewis joined the station three years ago this week. However, instead of renewing with the station, he took a position with a New York television station instead. His exit is effective right away. His position is not expected to be immediately filled by a full-time reporter, but by free-lance reporters instead.
Two big losses hit WBBM-TV. The biggest and most confusing loss was the cutting of news anchor & reporter Anne State. State quickly became a fan favorite and helped CBS2's newscasts gain ground on its rivals. Her hiring was rather universally hailed as one of the few good decisions made by the former President-GM/News Director team of Joe Ahern & Carol Fowler. However, Fowler & Ahern were both pushed out within a year and Bruno Cohen, the new President & General Manager of WBBM-TV, quickly demoted State from principle anchor to anchoring only the 5:00pm news and being a little-used reporter beyond that. The moved puzzled many as it seemed it was little more than a new boss trying to remove traces of the old boss from the station, despite her obvious anchor skills and ability to connect with an audience. As of Thursday night, after she finished her 5:00pm newscast, she was informed she was done at the station, effective immediately. She is free to find work elsewhere now and there are no plans to fill her position. Rob Johnson will now anchor all three of CBS2's nightly newscasts (5:00pm, 6:00pm and 10:00pm) solo.
The other loss to WBBM-TV is of veteran Chicago media man, Ed Curran. Curran was the morning & fill-in Meteorologist and station Technology reporter. Before becoming a Meteorologist, he had worked at numerous radio stations all around Chicago. In a cost cutting move, Curran is gone from the station as of earlier today. Also gone is his salary from WBBM-TV's books. However, Curran will continue to be under contract with CBS and receive his full pay through the duration of his contract, which still has 14 more months to go on it. His contract will now be on the books for a separate CBS account, freeing up WBBM-TV's budget. His position is not expected to be replaced anytime soon, though. Although he contractually cannot work for a rival television station, Curran could return to radio or use his technological intelligence and do something exciting new web-based project... or he may just sit back and enjoy his paid vacation. Many options are open for him.
The station holding the exit door open the most this past week is WFLD-TV. Many news staffers found out about their immediate or soon-to-happen departures. This started at the end of last week when anchors/reporters Nancy Loo and Lauren Cohn were both informed that their contracts were not being renewed. Both will finish out their contracts and leave the station in mid-April.
It was announced earlier today that WFLD-TV weekend anchor Byron Harlan will not have his contract renewed, either. His final newscasts will be this weekend. Harlan had been with the station for well over a dozen years. Fox is not expected to immediately fill his position, as Nancy Pender will anchor the weekend newscasts solo for now.
Earlier today was the final day for Melinda Tichelaar as the Executive Producer for WFLD's morning news show, "Good Day Chicago." She has been the program's Executive Producer for the last two years. Tichelaar will be remaining with WFLD-TV, but in the lesser roles of a web producer and line producer. No immediate replacement will be chosen for Tichelaar's "Good Day Chicago" position, as those duties will be handled by others on the program for the time being.
The news was even grimmer behind the scenes as unofficial word spread this week that as many as 22 technicians, all NABET-CWA Local 41 Union members, could be out of a job by summer. WFLD is installing new Sony software-based production automation systems that will greatly automate the newscasts, eliminating the need for so many human eyes & hands doing much of the technical work.
In the case of WGN's Antwan Lewis, he wanted to better his position and move to New York. In the case of everybody else this week, they are being forced out. Regardless of the many reasons why, the station's exit doors were used far too much and held open far too long this past week.