TV Stations Suffer Experience Drain

Veteran anchors laid off across the nation

Seasoned journalists are becoming a rarer breed at TV stations as consolidation and belt-tightening take a toll on experience. The New York Timesreported recently that stations around the country have laid off their most experience anchors.

Ernie Bjorkman, a 36-year vet and a Denver “institution,” was recently let go from KWGN-TV, the CW affiliate in the Mile-High City owned by Tribune. Bjorkman told the Times, “I don’t think we’re going to see the anchor people grow old with the audience anymore.”

Diann Burns was laid off this year from WBBM-TV, the CBS O&O in Chicago after 23 years. KHOU-TV, the Belo-owned CBS affiliate in Houston, let go of Carolyn Campbell after 26 years. Sportscast Bob Lobel had 28 years with CBS O&O WBZ-TV in Boston when he was cut earlier this year.

“Basically, you replace someone who knows City Hall with someone who can’t find it,” John Beard told the Times. Beard was let go at KTTV-TV a year ago after 14 years with the Los Angeles Fox O&O. He was previously with KNBC-TV in the city for 13 years that included a live hostage taking in the studio.

TV stations are suffering revenue hits along with everything else in the economy. Share prices for networks and groups alike are at an all-time low, and cost-cutting is imperative. Belo., trading at less than $2, imposed a wage freeze in late October, effective until the company returned to profitability.