Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Layoffs Hit Another Station

UPDATE 12/10/08 8:50 AM: Plain Dealer media columnist Julie Washington - who apparently escaped her own employer's recent layoff axe - confirms a number of the details in this PD story.

Washington says "as many as 13" WOIO/WUAB employees were shown through the We Can't Afford You Anymore door, including "19 Action News" morning co-anchor Jeff Eliasoph, in what appears to be a nationwide cut of about 10 percent of station owner Raycom Media's staff.

Eliasoph tells Washington that he didn't have any other names of those let go, and didn't ask:

"I didn't want to know," he said. "The circumstances in our business are so dire that I can't blame anyone."

Eliasoph, who worked alongside Tiffani Tucker, confirms our earlier mention that off-air staffers were also affected.

And one more on-air layoff surfaced in an extensive report about the Raycom layoffs in the popular TV newsroom news and gossip site NewsBlues - reporter Shannon O'Brien. Both Eliasoph and O'Brien were names we were hearing rumored to be on the layoff list Tuesday. We're hearing one other name rumored to have been cut from the "19 Action News" employment rolls, but we can't confirm.

Eliasoph has an interesting quip in the PD piece.

Local television news is losing viewers and advertisers because it stopped being relevant and became a place for traffic, weather and sensational crime, Eliasoph said.

"TV has been selling the sizzle and not the steak."

So far, we haven't been able to find details of layoffs at Raycom's other Ohio station, FOX affiliate WXIX/19. We'll update this item when we do.

At Raycom newsrooms across the country, there may not be any steak, or even lima beans. NewsBlues says the layoffs affected about 10 percent of Raycom's employees chainwide, and the numbers could total around 200 layoffs nationally.

The Julie Washington piece is not all bad news for the local TV industry, quoting Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 general manager Victoria Regan.

Regan tells Julie the same thing we've heard off-blog, that there haven't been any layoffs at "NewsChannel 5"...the company has reduced employee size, so far, by attrition. While she can't rule out job cuts (and really, no one in media can in 2008/2009), she tells Washington "that's not typically how our company operates."

And the story reminds readers that the other two TV newsrooms in Cleveland, those at Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 and Local TV FOX affiliate WJW/8, have endured recent layoffs.

Our original item is below...


The layoff axe, which has cut jobs at local radio and TV stations frequently in the past few months, has apparently hit at one TV station that's been safe from cuts so far.

We don't have a lot of details about rumblings of a large number of job cuts at Raycom's Cleveland market CBS/MyNet combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43, many reportedly affecting the station's "19 Action News" newsroom.

But if those rumors are correct, double-digit job losses have landed at Reserve Square, affecting as many as three on-air personalities, along with various newsroom support staffers and office staff members.

We want to clarify...we don't have a lot of details, and much of this isn't confirmed.

But we have confirmed from at least one other sister Raycom station that the Montgomery, Alabama-based company is cutting jobs on what sounds like a company-wide basis.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal has a story on Tuesday's job cuts at WOIO's sister station there:

Citing increasing pressure on advertising revenues in a prolonged economic downturn, WMC-TV Channel 5 said Tuesday that it is reducing its staff.

Weeknight anchor Donna Davis and midday anchor Bill Lunn are among the 15 employees being let go by the local NBC affiliate as part of wider cuts by parent company Raycom Media, said WMC general manager Lee Meredith.

With about 150 full-time employees locally, Tuesday's cuts account for 10 percent of the station's work force.

The article says Davis has TV history in the Cleveland market, though we don't remember her here.

The WMC general manager blames the usual culprit for layoffs in this Scary New World - the down economy and lower advertising revenue in all forms of media.

This wild ride will stop...somewhere. We hope...


YEKIMI said...

Please! Let one of the people cut be Bill Applegate. Get rid of the guy that brought trash TV to the newsroom.

BGSUfalcon said...

Donna Davis was on WJW-8 as weekend anchor, along side Wayne Dawson when they did weekend evenings.

andrew727 said...

I've lived through an attrition at an 'all-news' radio station in Cleveland, it was not a pretty sight. We had recently gone AFTRA and management decided it was time for heads to roll. Thankfully I survived that purge. I remember walking into the newsroom to get ready for my shift when I saw a lot of staffers, just sitting on their desks. A lot of unhappy faces, the only real sounds came from the UPI and AP teletypes. The Christmas party was not the usual gay affair at a nice restaurant - it was held in the second floor conference room. Station management made the mistake of putting a time salesman in charge of the event - food consisted of pretzels, potato chips, twix cookie bars and really strong booze - of which each of us remaining, got a bottle. It was really pretty dismal. I can say, being laid-off just before Christmas is really the pits!

- Andrew, -