Nexstar Media Group has parted ways with its Los Angeles news director Pete Saiers after just three years on the job, according to people familiar with the matter.
Saiers’ exit was a mutual decision and not a firing, a person with knowledge of his departure confirmed to The Desk on Friday. He was hired to lead the newsroom at KTLA (Channel 5, CW) in March 2021 while the station was still navigating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Today was my final day at KTLA,” Saiers wrote in a memo sent to newsroom workers on Friday. “I thank everyone for the privilege of having been part of this talented and dedicated team…take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and take care of the loyal audience.”
Saiers helped lead KTLA through its 75th anniversary on the air in Los Angeles, and oversaw the development and deployment of a new digital news set that KTLA debuted last November.
But Saiers also reigned over a newsroom in turmoil, particularly after the departure of beloved KTLA morning news anchor Lynette Romero last September. Romero’s departure was abrupt, and she wasn’t given the opportunity to say goodbye to viewers, prompting former co-anchor Mark Mester to go rogue during a news broadcast the following weekend. (Mester was fired for his on-air criticism of the station; Romero later resurfaced at cross-town competitor KNBC, Channel 4).
After Romero’s departure and Mester’s firing, a former television producer who worked with Saiers accused him of yelling at and belittling colleagues during his time at Seattle NBC affiliate KING-TV (Channel 5).
“While working for him, he leaned across his desk, yelling at me while wagging his finger less than an inch from my face,” the producer wrote in an e-mail to the website FTV Live. “I have never been treated so poorly in a newsroom as I was by him. I involved HR and threatened legal action if I was not immediately released from my contract and had my non-compete waived.”
The producer, whom FTV Live did not name, accused Saiers of lying about the interaction, only to later confirm it as true.
“I wasn’t the only one who was subject to this type of behavior while at KING 5,” the producer continued. “He’s an incompetent a–hole who lacks the people skills and news judgment needed to lead a newsroom.”
Saiers began his broadcast career as a reporter in Beirut, Lebanon, where he worked for now-defunct Future Television in the mid-1990s.
After a brief stint at a newspaper in Beirut, Saiers came to California, where he joined Sinclair’s KOVR-TV (Channel 13, CBS) as a producer and reporter. (KOVR is now owned by Paramount Global.) In 2000, he moved to San Francisco, where he worked for KPIX (Channel 5, CBS) a station that would serve as his home base for nearly 12 years.
Following his time at KPIX, Saiers worked as a freelancer for San Francisco ABC station KGO-TV (Channel 7) for six months before securing his first news director job at KING-TV in Seattle. His time in Seattle was short: Less than two years after joining KING, he was hired to serve as KTLA’s news director, prompting him to move back to California.
“Peter is a content guy, a visionary and a collaborative leader,” Janene Drafs, KTLA’s vice president and general manager, said in a statement shortly after Saiers was hired. “He knows how to connect with audiences and meet them where they are going, in addition to understanding where they’ve been. Best of all, he’s a longtime viewer and fan of KTLA, someone who understands our brand and promises to bring energy and passion as he joins our amazing team.”