Press Release Headline of the Day: WADL 'Disgorges' O'Brien

I’m barely back from a week’s worth of vacation when I’m greeted by this headline in a press release:

WADL Detroit Disgorges Remnants of Kevin O’ Brien 

Wow, there’s an image.

Just a few months ago, WADL, an independent owned by Adell Broadcasting, announced it had hired O’Brien–a seasoned, if controversial, broadcasting veteran–to spark the sales staff at the station formerly known as Detroit’s Urban Station. The 12/7 press release said:

WADL TV Detroit hires Kevin O’Brien to come in after the holidays to aggressively make changes to increase sales at the station. CEO Kevin Adell says, “I look forward to Kevin O’Brien helping me to mature one of my media properties.” 

But the relationship went bad quickly, and last week, WADL said it was parting ways with O’Brien after an investigation revealed numerous transgressions of Adell’s corporate policy.

The release said:

Prior to O’Brien’s termination, CEO Kevin Adell instructed Rich Mazzari, a retired FBI agent, to conduct a thorough investigation. Upon review of Mazzari’s findings, Adell determined O’Brien’s termination be immediately effective.

Adell issued the following statement: “I am deeply saddened that in this day and age this type of behavior still exists. I have zero tolerance for this, and I will personally disgorge any money paid to Mr. O’Brien as a consultant for the past two months.”

Matt Uhl was named WADL GM last month. He succeeded broadcast vet Steve Antoniotti, who was GM for about a year and a half.  In December, Antoniotti told me WADL had dropped the “Urban Station” tag, and was airing more syndicated shows and less religious paid programming.

Back to today’s press release, which was related to newly hired news director Matt Stevens being let go.  Stevens was an O’Brien hire.

On his first day of work, Matt Stevens was met by WADL TV Detroit Security Chief former FBI Officer Rich Mazzari. Stevens was informed that per direct instructions from CEO Kevin Adell, his services would no longer be needed at WADL TV Detroit. Stevens was escorted from the station property by security.

O’Brien ran the Meredith station group about a decade ago, and was known for dismissing numerous GMs and department heads.

While refusing to elaborate, one Adell insider said O’Brien’s latest transgressions were consistent with those in his past places of employment, though charges of racism at previous posts were not an issue this time.

The insider said Matt Uhl, while an O’Brien hire, would stay on as GM.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.