KHON sister TV stations face layoffs
KHON's sister television stations in Oregon and Kansas were downsized yesterday by the new owner of the three stations, and more layoffs are coming.
In Honolulu, news of the dozens of job cuts reverberated throughout KHON.
Messages appearing to originate from Honolulu were posted yesterday on the Oregon Media Insiders Web site, which has tracked the progression of events at KOIN in Portland, Ore. Newspaper reports from KSNW in Wichita were e-mailed and discussed in hushed reporter-to-reporter phone calls around Oahu.
The buyer of the stations, SJL Acquisition LLC, recently made lists of employees it wanted retained at each station and gave them to seller Emmis Communications Corp. in keeping with the September deal to sell the stations.
Kate Snedeker, director of media and investor relations for Indiana-based Emmis, said she did not have the list of names of KHON employees to be retained.
Emmis' Hawaii market general manager, Rick Blangiardi, will leave KHON next Friday and move to KGMB, which Emmis is trying to sell. He will be replaced by upstate New York television executive Joe McNamara, who starts Jan. 30 as president and general manager.
McNamara will not immediately announce job cuts, said SJL's chief operating officer, Sandy Benton.
"He's going to meet with department heads, relook at the initial list that was done and then talk to the staff," she said. "I can't give anything out on Hawaii because it is still in flux."
Conflicting numbers of layoffs were given by Emmis and SJL for the cuts at KSNW in Wichita. Emmis indicated that 24 people were laid off and two vacant positions were eliminated, while Benton said there were 20 layoffs.
KSNW workers were told that production staff, including directors, audio technicians and other employees necessary to put on a newscast, would be fired in addition to the terminations announced yesterday, according to an employee at KSNW who asked not to be identified.
The new general manager for KSNW, to replace Shawn Oswald, will not be announced until at least Monday, Benton said.*
SJL and Emmis both indicated there were 21 layoffs at KOIN in Portland, where Healey, of Emmis, confirmed the employee count had gone from 127 to 106. SJL officer Marty Ostrow, formerly of WTAJ in Altoona, Pa., will take the helm of KOIN. SJL has a financial interest in WTAJ, which is up for sale.*
The job cuts were across most departments, but no news anchors were laid off in either market, Benton said. Some on-air staffers may have been told their contracts would not be renewed, she said.
Emmis announced it would give each employee at the stations that are being sold a success bonus of three months' pay when the deals closed. Details of severance benefits were not available.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Shawn Oswald will be leaving his post as general manager of KSNW-TV in Wichita, Kansas, not KOIN-TV in Portland, Ore.
Marty Ostrow will become the new general manager at KOIN, not KSNW.
A story on page C-1 of the Sat., Jan. 21 Star-Bulletin mixed up the names and station affiliations.