Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweeping changes at Channel 2, CBS (updated)

Burns, Childers, Malone out at Channel 2; layoffs at other CBS O&Os

The ax fell at CBS-owned WBBM-TV on Monday, with eighteen people either laid off or their contracts not being renewed. The causalities include on-air veterans Mary Ann Childers, Diann Burns, and Mark Malone.

Burns was the highest-paid anchor at the station, making a reported $2 million per year.

The hirings on the three on-air personalities were heralded as a strategy to bring more viewers to the perennially ratings-challenged station by using familiar faces. But the numbers continued heading south, with WBBM's 10 p.m. newscasts often losing to WFLD's 10 p.m. news show among adults 18-49.

The firings are reminiscent of the "Black Wednesday" firings at sister station WCBS-TV in New York back on October 2, 1996, when a total of seven on-air personalities were fired.

"Black Monday" at WBBM was the largest purge of employees at any television station in a single day Chicago history.

This comes as major media companies across the country are making major cutbacks. A few weeks ago, Citadel laid off staff at WLS-AM & WZZN-FM and other stations across the country.

WBBM isn't the only CBS O&O station to feel the pinch:

- Dallas: KTVT let three people go, including longtime investigative reporter Robert Riggs.

- Minneapolis: WCCO-TV dropped a weekend anchor.

- Sacramento: CBS' duopoly of KOVR-TV and KMAX-TV laid off an unspecified number of employees.

- Denver: Employees at KCNC-TV are being told layoffs are coming this week, and one video editor has already been let go.

Classic Think Tank: The mess at Channel 2

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