On TV Station Suspensions

  If you are looking for drama, look no further than WTVM.  No, not dramatic shows on the air,  but the drama that is going on with established on-air personalities and management.  

 WTVM, as you may know, suspended two of its most popular personalities.   I learned about the suspensions on  Richard Hyatt’s Columbus .   Chuck Leonard, who after almost two months suspension for making what some considered an insensitive racial remark on radio, is now back on the air, and meteorologist Kurt Schmitz,  who just got a five day suspension without pay.  Kurt told me he was suspended  over an interpretation of a contract dispute about his duties.  He didn’t want to say anything else about it, and I can understand that.

All of this reminded me that I had been suspended once in my career, and that I suspended someone myself.  Back in the early 1970’s, I was suspended for a week when working at WIS-TV in Columbia, SC, but because the general manager was not certain I was in the wrong,  it was with pay.  “Why don’t you take a week off and we’ll both think this over?” he said.  “You’ll continue to be paid.”

A lot of people came to my defense, including just about everyone in the newsroom where I was assignment editor.  Though not unionized,  a group of them threatened to strike.  The general manager decided that I could stay, but it was too late. I had used the week off to get another job, and there was no way I would have stayed there after that incident.

The job I got was news director and evening TV news anchor at WRBL Radio and TV.  One of my news personalities,  a man well established in the community,  didn’t show up for a radio newscast he was supposed to do because, as he told me,  he was having a beer at a bar with some buddies.  I wanted to tell him goodbye,  but he had a long association with Jim Woodruff, Jr. , part owner, president and general manager of WRBL Radio and TV.  Woodruff suggested I suspend him for a week without pay.  I said, “He won’t take it. He’ll leave.”  He replied, “Well.”

I was wrong. He didn’t leave, but he was very bitter and tried to undermine my authority, which he did not do, but his actions were a distraction.  So, you can see that I can identify with both sides of the suspension drama.

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2 Responses to “On TV Station Suspensions”

  1. WTVM'er Says:

    At least now I know what happened to Kurt Schmitz. Thank you for explaining it.

  2. Mike Franklin Says:

    Well, Schmitz’s cartouche has been erased from the WTVM website… so I guess, the drama goes on and the less we the public knows, the better.

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