A Los Angeles news anchor who was suspended from his job has hired an employment lawyer as questions swirl over his future at the station.
On Saturday, KTLA-TV (Channel 5) weekend morning news anchor Mark Mester was suspended from the station after he criticized the station’s decision to have an entertainment reporter announce the departure of veteran broadcaster Lynette Romero.
The decision to have showbiz reporter Sam Rubin announce Romero’s departure was unusual, in that on-air personalities are typically allowed to say goodbye to viewers themselves. Romero was afforded no such opportunity.
That did not sit well with many at the station, and Mester complained about it in a five-minute speech during the 8 a.m. hour of Saturday’s broadcast.
“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 incident prompted a rare weekend visit by the station’s general manager, Janene Drafts, who spoke to workers inside KTLA’s newsroom on Sunday. Drafts said it was Romero’s decision to move on from the station and compared her departure to a football player leaving one team for another. She ended her comments by announcing free breakfast burritos for everyone in the newsroom that day.
Mester received no such consolation prize: Instead, KTLA’s management decided to place him on a paid suspension, according to people familiar with the matter. His suspension was first reported by FTV Live, a blog that has a track record of breaking news about the local television industry. FTV Live said Mester’s newly-hired lawyer met with station executives on Wednesday.
Romero has not announced her future plans, but FTV Live reported the broadcaster was hired by Los Angeles NBC station KNBC (Channel 4). According to FTV Live’s report, Romero will reprise her role as a weekend morning news anchor at KNBC; it is not clear when she will start with the station.
Last Wednesday, Rubin said KTLA had “hoped she would stay here her entire career — and KTLA worked hard to make that happen,” but that Romero had ultimately decided to pursue “another opportunity elsewhere.”
Romero joined KTLA in 1998, where she worked as an evening news anchor alongside long-time TV personality Hal Fischman for several years. She eventually took on the role of general assignment reporter before being promoted to co-host of the KTLA Morning News Weekend Edition.
Prior to her work at KTLA, Romero was a general assignment reporter at NBC affiliate KUSA-TV (Channel 9) in Denver. She joined KUSA in 1988 and worked there for 10 years before moving to Los Angeles and KTLA.