A television station in Los Angeles is facing strong criticism from its viewers and some of its own employees over the abrupt resignation of one of its most-tenured news anchors.
Last week, Nexstar Media Group’s CW affiliate KTLA (Channel 5) announced its weekend morning news anchor Lynette Romero was leaving the station to pursue “another opportunity elsewhere.”
The announcement was read by entertainment reporter Sam Rubin on a weekday morning news broadcast, who added that management at the station “had hoped she would stay here her entire career — and KTLA worked hard to make that happen.”
Romero has worked at KTLA in various capacities since joining the station in 1998. She anchored the station’s evening newscast with veteran broadcaster Hal Fischman, then served as a general assignment reporter before becoming the primary co-host of the weekend edition of the KTLA Morning News.
The announcement last week was unusual, in that it did not come from Romero herself, but was instead read by a colleague. That decision didn’t set well with some at KTLA, including Romero’s recent co-host Mark Mester, who apologized to viewers and took the station to task during an impromptu segment on Saturday.
“It was inappropriate, and we are so sorry,” Mester said. “I also want to say sorry to Lynette Romero, because Lynette I love you so much, and you really are my best friend. You did not deserve what happened to you on Wednesday.”
At issue was KTLA’s decision to have Rubin read details of her resignation, rather than allow Romero herself to announce her departure and say goodbye to viewers. The latter is a customary honor at television stations when a long-time news personality leaves their airwaves.
Mester said Rubin’s reading of the resignation was apparently a last-minute decision by someone at the station, and that “I don’t know who wrote the script. I don’t know who handed it to Sam Rubin. Regardless, this was a mistake.”
“We owe you an apology,” Mester said.
A copy of Mester’s remarks was widely circulated on YouTube and posted to the website FTV Live until Monday, when the video was replaced by a message saying it had been removed due to a copyright notice filed by “Tribune.” Nexstar acquired KTLA and other Tribune Media stations in 2019.
Later in the day, Mester posted a video on a social media profile of a plane flying over the KTLA studios that carried a message of tribute to Romero. He was suspended from the station over the stunts, according to a person familiar with the matter.
On Sunday, KTLA General Manager Janene Drafts visited the newsroom to offer her perspective on what happened with Romero, claiming it was Romero’s decision to move on from the station and comparing the change to a football player who leaves one team for another.
As a consolation to offended newsroom employees, Drafts said the station was buying breakfast burritos for everyone working on Sunday.
But by then, the damage was done, and long-time viewers were voicing their displeasure with how KTLA handled Romero’s decision to leave.
“Your disrespectful treatment of Lynette Romero is reprehensible, as is your suspending Mark Mester for his comments,” one viewer, Diana Ellis, said on Twitter. “I enjoyed the Weekend Morning show…[but] I can’t continue to watch a station that totally disrespects loyal employees.”