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Departed KCBS Anchor Rico Gives Her Side

In an open letter to viewers, former KCBS Los Angeles morning anchor Suzanne Rico gives her perspective on being “fired” from the CBS O&O.

Anchors all over the country are being pushed to do more reporting instead of merely reading the Teleprompter. Rico says she was eager to make a bigger contribution to the CBS O&O’s news product, and to make a break from mornings.

She wrote:

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. 

As Rico says, KCBS-KCAL is under new management. Steve Mauldin took over as GM for Patrick McClenahan at the end of 2009, and brought Diener with him from KTVT-KTXA Dallas a few weeks later.

Rico was at KCBS since 2002 and anchored the 5 a.m. show and the 11 a.m. program. Neither was doing very well.The departed anchor also includes an email she wrote to her agent, expressing her dissatisfaction under the old KCBS management, McClenahan and Nancy Bauer-Gonzalez, and hoping for a new start under Mauldin and Diener.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. Writing from a “fairly deserted stretch of Mexican beach,” Rico said her departure was as much her own doing as it was KCBS management’s.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.  CBS disputed some aspects of Rico’s testimony and wished her well:“While we don’t agree with Suzanne’s interpretation of the events that led to her departure, we do appreciate her contributions and wish her the best in her future endeavors.” 

The most recent open letter from a miffed station staffer that comes to mind involved another L.A. station,as KTTV senior features editor Mark Sudock addressed none other than Rupert Murdoch in a September missive about the challenge of cranking out strong news product after heavy layoffs.