On-air criticism lands KHON’s Moore in hot water
The station’s new ownership disputes charges of lost quality
The new owners of KHON are not happy with their top-rated news anchor.
At issue are remarks by Joe Moore at the end of the 6 o'clock news Thursday evening, reprinted in yesterday's Star-Bulletin and repeated by Moore yesterday during the also top-rated "Perry and Price Show" on KSSK-FM 92.3/AM 590.
"What was said last night was not the truth," said Sandy Benton, chief operating officer for Montecito Broadcast Group LLC, which has changed its name from SJL Acquisition LLC. "I need to address it with Joe."
Moore had said Montecito "is a virtual company with no office building."
Benton said there is a home office. "Of course there is. It's in Montecito (Calif.)," she said.
Montecito's founder, president and chief executive officer, George Lilly, lives in Montecito. He could not be reached for comment.
Regarding the 35 job cuts the company has announced for KHON, Moore said, "A small percentage of people will be replaced by automation. The rest will severely reduce our ability to serve the community in the manner in which you, and we, have become accustomed."
Benton countered, "We have every intention of serving the community to the same degree it has been served in the past. If somebody had asked, we would have told them that. In fact, we did tell them that."
Asked if the commitment could be maintained with one-third less staff, she said, "I think you continue to forget that a good percentage of (the job cuts) will be automation."
It has not been announced who will be laid off at KHON.
Benton said she is aware that Moore has a track record of being outspoken.
"I don't mind that he's outspoken, but I don't want to see inaccuracy flying out of here like that. I don't know if our airwaves is the place to be outspoken," she said.
Moore has four years remaining on his contract.
Wrapping up the 10 o'clock news Thursday night, Moore thanked the 6 p.m. viewers who had communicated support to the KHON newsroom during the night.
He declined further comment yesterday afternoon.
Emmis Communications Corp., which announced last year it was selling KHON and three mainland television stations to Montecito, completed the sale of KHON yesterday. Emmis still owns and operates KGMB in Honolulu, WVUE in New Orleans and WKCF in Orlando, Fla., stations for which it is seeking a buyer.