- A NEW DAY: Expect Dawn in November.
Scott Thrower, morning drive man for boomer-rock station KURB-FM, B98.5, for the past seven years, writes to report that he has parted ways with the station in a contract dispute.
Thrower said he was offered a contract extension several months ago, but found it “completely unacceptable.” Among other things, station higher-ups wanted him to take a cut in pay, and to extend the non-compete period of his contract to one year even if he was fired.
Once it became clear that Thrower wouldn’t be re-upping with KURB, the negotiations apparently took a nasty turn.
“During my termination meeting,” Thrower wrote in a recent e-mail, “station manager Jim Beard asked me to resign. I told him ‘absolutely not.’ ”
An obviously bitter Thrower isn’t shy about flaming his old boss, saying that under Beard’s leadership, the staff at KURB has been reduced “to the point that over 66 percent of the station’s broadcast is pre-recorded or ‘voice-tracked,’” even as Beard has added talent to sister stations KLAL, KIPR, and KARN.
“Yet he wonders why B98 is down in the ratings,” Thrower said. “Beard often signs memos ‘live, local and free.’ B98 is anything but.”
Asked about Thrower’s departure from the station, an official with KURB who asked that his name not be used said that the matter is a personnel issue and that he could not comment.
The struggle for local newscast supremacy is sure to heat up with the word that one-time KTHV, Channel 11, anchor Dawn Scott is returning from Seattle to fill a to-be-determined spot with KTHV. Rumors had been swirling in media circles for over a month about the return of Scott, a perennial favorite who left the market in July 2002 for a reporting job with Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO (and to be near her physician husband, who was serving a residency in the northwest). KTHV had denied the rumors, but on Aug. 28, the station made Scott’s return both public and official, ushering a visibly pregnant Scott in from the station’s “Weather Garden” and presenting her before the assembled Channel 11 staff.
Station manager Larry Audas said the negotiations to get Scott back into the KTHV fold took several months. “What we had was the opportunity to bring her back,” Audas said, “And we certainly took advantage of that.”
Even more interesting than how Scott’s return will alter the talent race between local stations is how it will change the lineup and chemistry at KTHV. The station already has a full talent roster, with anchors Liz Massey, Anne Jansen and Andy Pearson (currently, Massey and Jansen work the 5 p.m. news, while Massey and Pearson handle 6 and 10 p.m.)
Both Audas and news director Mark Raines are staying non-committal about the forthcoming traffic jam on the anchordesk, at least in public.
“We’ve got two months to iron that out,” Audas said. “What’s important is, we’ve got her back and under contract.”
Though Raines said KTHV has a number of personnel and talent issues to work through, he suggested that the station might be able to make room for everyone involved. He said the studio provides “some flexibility regarding where we put people,” with the option of having multiple anchors reporting from different parts of the set.
Like Audas, Raines said the important thing was getting Scott back. “She was available, and we wanted her back. That was our sole objective,” Raines said. “Some of these other issues, we’re trying to work through; who’s going to be anchoring what newscast, who is going to sit where, and all those kinds of things.”
Another issue is Scott’s pregnancy. A due date of Christmas Day and a planned Nov. 1 premiere on KTHV only leaves a month or two — at best — for Scott to connect with viewers before she leaves the air again for at least another month.
“She’ll be pretty far along,” Raines said. He said Scott would “be here for the November book, “ take maternity leave and then be back sometime during the February ’07 sweeps period.
Is it Dawn already?