A few days ago I wrote about the newsroom changes at KCBS/KCAL made by the duopoly's new general manager and news director. As part of the shuffles, Channel 2 morning co-anchor Suzanne Rico was let go. (Her co-anchor, Kent Shocknek, remains.)
Suzanne sent this open letter, giving her side of the story:
I write this letter from a beach chair, watching a squadron of brown pelicans dive-bombing the surf in front of me. This fairly deserted stretch of Mexican beach is not a bad place to lick my wounds after getting fired by KCBS-TV (Channel 2), where I have anchored the morning and midday newscasts for the past 7 1/2 years. I write to set the record straight about being "restructured" out of my anchor chair and to provide some context to the story. There was no mention of my own dissatisfaction with the job and the state of local news in the limited news release of my departure. The following is an excerpt from an email I sent in January to my agent, asking him to convey my feelings to the new KCBS management:
"[T]he worst thing about my job is that I don't feel valued at CBS and haven't for many years. I tried… to be more than just a newsreader - but continually got feedback that someone to read the teleprompter was all that was required and indeed, all that was wanted from management. After years of pitching stories, after pitching ways in which I could further contribute to the betterment of the product that elicited no response or support, I let it go. I am secure in my ability to contribute to a great news product if my wings are not clipped, and would welcome the opportunity to do that. But things have to change…Excellence does not happen in a vacuum and without support and collaboration between individuals."
When the management changed at Channel 2 at the end of last year, I believed there was an opportunity for positive change. My desire to be more involved in our news product, coupled with my exhaustion from a grueling 3 a.m. schedule over the last 8 years, led me to ask for a move off of mornings to a role that would allow me to contribute better to both my work and my family, including two small children. I knew that such a request might opt me right out of a job, and indeed, I did end up catching the axe as it made its first wide swing through the CBS-2 newsroom on Friday, March 19th. There would be no positive change for me, at least in terms of my career with KCBS. Instead, I went from news anchor to news nobody in the three minutes it took for new News Director Scott Diener to fire me. But as I walked out of the office for the last time, I felt free: free to get enough sleep, free to play with my kids without feeling exhausted, free to pursue other opportunities in which I can contribute in a more meaningful way.
I am not complaining about being part of "restructuring," but I am saddened by the increasing focus of news on form and ever less on substance—and the increasing marginalization of people like me who want their job to be about more than just making money. The viewers who have watched my news broadcasts for the last 8 years deserve to know that my exit is as much the consequence of my choice as that of KCBS. I want to say goodbye to those who made me a part of their mornings, as well as to the many wonderful and talented people who make up the KCBS family. I will miss them, but I will not miss the job – or the 3 A.M. wake up call.