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Exclusive: Tempers Flare at Channel 6

Thursday, May 12, 2011

 

Maybe it’s just me, but the way to build morale and team building if you just took over a struggling TV station is not done by screaming at one of your main anchors.

What happened at Channel 6 recently has many a staffer over there shaking their heads in disgust with the new ownership that has taken over. According to two separate sources that GoLocalProv has talked to an explosion of anger erupted in the newsroom involving main news anchor John DeLuca and the new station owner Phil Lombardo who was in the news room.

It all started over a lap-top

According to our sources, it was close to news time one recent afternoon. This is obviously a busy time in a news room. Reporters, producers, and editors are getting their stories ready for the evening newscast. Today most newsrooms have lap-top computers right on the anchor set which allows the anchor folks to review and pre-read scripts. It also allows them to make changes quickly and re-print scripts that they have in front of them while they read along on the teleprompter. The lap-top is a key tool for a news person – especially for scripts but also for checking for updates etc. To make a comparison, in the old days, it would be the same thing as legendary Channel 10 anchor man Doug White having a pen on the set to make changes etc to his scripts. So basically, a lap-top is needed for the job these days. Turns out when DeLuca got up on the set, the lap-top was gone so he apparently started to question where it was and why was it gone. Pretty fair and reasonable question for sure.

Things got ugly

According to station insiders, somehow Lombardo heard the DeLuca chatter about the lap-top and flipped out. Literally screaming at DeLuca and making suggestions along the line of “I could have easily thrown your *** out of here” (that is not a direct quote but our sources say that was the exact tone of the screaming and yelling). Mind you, this is NOT happening in an office with the door closed---it is happening in the open news room where everyone is just watching and listening to DeLuca being yelled at. It is not clear how long this went on for but it wasn’t quick apparently.

Generally, a gentleman

By all accounts from people with work directly with DeLuca, he is a gentleman. Not a screamer or on some huge TV ego trip (and boy are there some people like that at all the stations here in Providence) who goes around looking for a fight with someone. Especially with the new guy who just bought the station you are working at.

DeLuca has long history at the station and has worked his way up from a street reporter to the main anchor gig. Many staffers are asking why the new owner would suddenly just decide to verbally attack someone who by design is one of your key players as you are trying to build a ratings challenged station.

Morale is horrible


Several people tell us the morale can’t get much lower around the place as well. Anytime there is a shake-up with a new owner and a new boss – it causes anxiety. You are talking about people’s careers – people who have to make mortgage and car payments wondering if the new guy will blow you out because he doesn’t like the way you hold a microphone or the color shirt you wear. This screaming session follows the news we reported just this week that reporters desks have now been moved as the owners move some of the technical equipment from the basement to the reporter desk area to save money on rent they pay for space.

New management should really be focusing on the ratings and the content. A check of ratings numbers for one day this week shows the 6pm news at Channel 6 had about a 1.8 rating which translates to somewhere around 11,000 house-holds watching. By comparison, Channel 10’s “facebook” page alone has over 22,000 friends to give you an idea of how well Channel 6 is doing these days.

Contract Flap

Another problem GoLocalProv has learned is that news talent with employment contracts are running into some road blocks. Word is that some people are trying to leave and go on to other jobs. Certainly understandable when people have no idea if they are being kept or not. Apparently, the new owners are deciding to lock people in and allow for no wiggle room. We’re told at least one reporter was either a finalist for an out of state job or had the job – but ended up losing it because of contract flap.

The new owners, Citadel Communications, which took over the station from receivership also took over all the employment contracts. So even though the FCC has not formally said OK to the take-over, any employment contract is still valid so therefore the new owners have the final say on who stays and goes. The point here is that given the “new day” at 6, if someone has a chance to take a new opportunity and it doesn’t compete with you – why stand in the way of someone. Again, it just does not help with that thing called morale.

GoLocalProv reached out to both owner Phil Lombardo and the new Channel 6 General Manager for comment and to get their side of the story. But so far no word back.

Channel 6’s slogan is “Honest. Fair. Everywhere”.

Fair to the employees?

So far that’s not what we are “hearing” from the people on the inside who say enough already with the screaming.
 

 

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Comments:

@Plato..never quit on Angel..its that Mo Lombardi/Glavin obsession..cant handle coming in distant 2nd, then losing your job to a kid..but geez..you got $85K in pensions..Wabun your greatest hopes!!
@Jeff..stick to radio wars rather than .he said, she said, he may have said, he wanted to say, he should have said, thought to say, etc etc etc

Comment #1 by lOUIS PRIMA on 2011 05 12

If a tree falls on the Channel Six news, but no one is watching, does it generate ratings?

Comment #2 by Jacob Loupus on 2011 05 12

After working with John Deluca for many years he's one of the "good guys" in the tv business. Good luck John and keep the faith!

Comment #3 by Mike Brostek on 2011 05 12

______________________

"louis prima" is just another Cicilline-controlled coward who is so terrified to be identified with his lying, incompetent master that he/she hides behind an alias.

Which is not an uncommon trait for members of Cicilline's crews over the years.

Comment #4 by Charles Drago on 2011 05 12

I am a 30 year plus veteran of Television newsrooms all across the country. I have seen this kind of behavior from new owners on at least two other occasions. The new owners are doing everything in their power to lower the moral to the point where people start to quit. It is much less expensive if an employee quits. No severance, no unemployment, no nothing. Then they can bring in their own folks at half the price. The new people will owe their allegiance to the new owner, not the old way of life.
This is what Stalin would do if he ran a newsroom. Except he would kill the old guard. I’m sure the new owners have looked into this.

Comment #5 by Neil Bobrick on 2011 05 12

XXXXXXXXX
In all fairness, Lombardo is in the “hot seat;” he’s trying to cover all the overhead, so if he acts crazy without warning, it could be due to another issue. Give him credit, though…without him there would be no “Channel 6.” (Would Providence residence prefer two local stations)? Maybe there is a “Paul Harvey” here (rest of the story)? These pieces just don’t add up…
XXXXXXXXXXX

Comment #6 by zan nordlund on 2011 05 13

There always at least two sides to a story. But sadly, I look at a television station as a business. Just like a used car lot. It has always been like that, but in the days when there were only three stations in town, television stations made money hand over fist. There was no pressure to show a profit. The only thing that mattered was how much.
Things are not like that anymore. The only way to keep your corporate head above water is to cut costs. These costs have been building since the old days. And there is the added burden of switching to High Definition at a time the station can least afford it. The first thing to do is cut bodies. Bodies have health care plans and pensions. The managers have to figure out the cheapest way to cut the bodies. Make them quit. They won’t quit if they are having a good time. As a working guy in the newsroom you got to say to yourself if that’s the way the new owners treat the anchorman, what are they going to do to me? You become demoralized, depressed and sick to your stomach. And you quit. They win.

Comment #7 by Neil Bobrick on 2011 05 13

XXXXXXXX
You might not want the face on the front line to quit...especially when they have the public ear and you are "the man behind the curtain." This seems like a non-issue, part of the going for a transitional business trying to survive in a difficult market. Hazing won't help. Staff changes will probably occur. It's normal. xxxxx

Comment #8 by zan nordlund on 2011 05 13

Phil Lombardo and his team have a horrible reputation in the industry. They rule by intimidation and fear, saying they are straight shooters, then doing nothing but playing mind games with employees. This article gives a mild account to the state of that newsroom. Current and former employees can give you countless examples of the hostile work environment created by Citadel. There's a reason why employees are leaving for lesser paying jobs, and other employees who were let go and then asked to come back, won't come. This is a classic example of how not to do business.

Comment #9 by J Cicconi on 2011 05 13

good article jeff! seems like the first casualty of the new regime has occurred...looks like allison alexander has left the station! do you have any information on that?

Comment #10 by James Brooks on 2011 05 16




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