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Station Break

Chicago Reporter aids rescue

Veteran WLS-TV Chicago reporter Paul Meincke moved to center stage during a hostage crisis last week when a suspected bank robber refused to allow police to treat an officer he allegedly had shot. Meincke was asked by police spokesman Pat Camden if he would talk via cell phone to suspect Daniel Salley, who was down the hall and said he would surrender if he could tell his story to the media. As a precaution, Meincke was given a bulletproof vest. He spoke with Salley for about two minutes, after which Salley surrendered.

Meincke, who was unable to ask questions during the brief talk, was mindful of the departure from the journalists' role and told viewers that, "while you don't want to stop being a journalist, … the greater good has to be served here." Police had been unable to get to their wounded colleague for more than two hours. Meincke told BROADCASTING & CABLE a few hours after the incident that he also wanted to clear up local reports claiming he'd negotiated with the suspect. "I just listened. I don't know if I would have been keen on doing it if it had been face to face."

Opening at O&O

KNBC (TV) Los Angeles Vice President and News Director Nancy Bauer Gonzales will be leaving in what President and General Manager Paula Madison described as a "mutual and amicable" parting. Bauer Gonzales had been with the station since 1989 and became news director in 1997. No replacement has been named, nor did Bauer Gonzales announce any plans, although there was speculation last week that she might be seeking the vacant news directorship at Los Angeles's KCAL(TV), where her husband, David Gonzales, is an anchor.

Madison said she admired Bauer Gonzales' "professionalism, leadership, news sense and her decision to pursue a better balance between her work and family life," while other L.A. newspeople suggested the split came over the two managers' differing visions of the KNBC newsroom. Madison herself was news director at NBC's New York flagship station, WNBC-TV, before being named GM in Los Angeles last year and has made numerous changes in personnel and approaches at KNBC-TV.

L.A. layoffs

Beginning the process of combining its two Los Angeles TV stations, Fox has laid off close to a dozen people so far—from finance, programming and sales. All those losing their jobs came from KCOP(TV), the Chris-Craft station acquired by Fox. Amid the anxiety and job insecurity, sources say, some of the fired workers had thought when they began to report to KTTV(TV)'s Bundy Street facility to learn about KTTV procedures that they were being spared the ax.

WCBS-TV bolstering news management

Husband-and-wife news managers Richard Bamberger and Kristen Quillinan will leave Fox's WJBK(TV) Detroit next week for CBS's ratings-troubled flagship WCBS-TV New York. Joel Cheatwood, who is both executive VP for news at the Viacom station group and news director at WCBS-TV, called the two "dynamic news managers … aggressive, innovative journalists who bring great passion to their work." Among their competitors will be their former boss, Neil Goldstein, who left WJBK(TV) to head Fox's new duopolized news in New York.

The hiring follows the exit of Executive Editor John Bell, who left several weeks ago after a minor scuffle with a producer. Management has considered hiring a news director for WCBS-TV, allowing Cheatwood to direct attention to other stations in the expanded group. The group recently hired WBAL-TV Baltimore News Director Princell Hair to share news management with Cheatwood.

Time marches on into court

Newsman Dave Minshall's age-discrimination case against KMGH reached trial last week in Denver, part of a flurry of such lawsuits. Veteran TV weather forecaster Craig Weber last week sued his former station, WPHL-TV Philadelphia, contending managers violated federal age-discrimination law in bypassing him for better jobs and then firing him last year in favor of younger on-air talent. The station has not yet responded. A few weeks ago, Florida jurors rejected Steve Alvarez's claim he was a victim of age discrimination when WPLG(TV) Miami did not renew his contract in 1999.