Monday, December 1, 2008

Good-bye, Ted Baxter

Gray-haired news anchors (and their big salaries) are riding off into the local news sunset:
In October, three weeks after Ernie Bjorkman, an institution in Colorado television, signed a new annual contract worth close to a quarter of a million dollars, he was told he was being let go by KWGN, the CW affiliate in Denver, a victim of consolidation with another station.
In the self-assured baritone of his profession, Mr. Bjorkman, a 36-year television veteran who will be paid through the end of his contract period, said, "I don't think we’re going to see the anchor people grow old with the audience anymore."
Across the country, longtime local TV anchors are a dying breed. Facing an economic slump and a severe advertising downturn, many stations have cut costs drastically in the last year, and veteran anchors, with their expensive contracts, seem to be shouldering a disproportionate share of the cutbacks. When station managers are forced to make cuts, hefty anchor salaries are a tempting target.
In Chicago, the 23-year anchor Diann Burns was laid off from WBBM. In Boston, the renowned sports anchor Bob Lobel was let go by WBZ. In Houston, the 26-year veteran Carolyn Campbell was dismissed from KHOU.
When the anchors depart, they take decades of experience and insight with them. "Basically, you replace someone who knows City Hall with someone who can't find it," said John Beard, who lost his job at KTTV last December after 26 years as a news anchor in Los Angeles.
"There is certainly an erosion of longtime anchors happening at many stations across the country, for a very simple reason: economics," said Al Primo, a television news consultant who developed the "Eyewitness News" format in the 1960s and 1970s.
Good-night and good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Just how damn much is a news reader worth? That's the question.

    When there is someone who can bring more to the job than a great voice and good hair, then promotion and big pay is possible. But that isn't necessarily a job just reading copy.