The KTLA Morning News went on as planned Saturday morning, but without news anchor Mark Mester behind the desk.
Mester was terminated earlier this week after he spoke out about the station’s treatment of veteran broadcaster Lynette Romero, who decided to leave KTLA earlier this month for a new opportunity at rival station KNBC.
Romero had been with the station for more than two decades, but was not given the opportunity to say goodbye to viewers on-air, as is customary in the local television industry. Instead, her departure was announced on September 14 by KTLA’s entertainment reporter Sam Rubin, who read a brief statement just before that morning’s newscast was set to end.
The situation didn’t sit well with Romero’s colleagues at KTLA, including Mester, who spoke out about the station’s treatment of the long-time broadcaster during a five-minute monologue last weekend.
“Lynette I love you so much, and you really are my best friend,” Mester said. “You did not deserve what happened to you on Wednesday.”
The station suspended Mester with pay for several days before ultimately firing him on Thursday. According to a source, executives at KTLA and its parent company, Nexstar Media Group, viewed Mester’s monologue as critical of the station, an action that violated an anti-disparagement clause in his contract. Mester hired an employment lawyer prior to his dismissal; it was not clear if he intends to sue the station.
Saturday marked one week since the on-air incident, but viewers likely wouldn’t know it if they had been watching the KTLA Morning News and were previously unaware of the controversy. No one on set addressed Mester’s absence as of 8:30 a.m.
Pedro Rivera, the station’s evening news anchor, filled in for Mester on Saturday. Rivera joined KTLA around this time last year from Nexstar’s Sacramento station, KTXL (Channel 40, Fox). On Twitter, Rivera said he would return to the news desk on Sunday before redeeming some vacation time.
Megan Telles, who was at the news desk during Mester’s monlogue last week, co-anchored the KTLA Morning News Weekend Edition on Saturday.