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Battered by budget, WCCO lays off Trompeter

Almost a year to the day after WCCO-TV fired Paul Douglas, the station let go another high-priced, high-visibility face: anchor Jeanette Trompeter.

The Strib's CJ broke the news, which her sources and mine say were purely budget related. While no revenue figures were released, station personnel say year-to-date sales have dropped in the range of losses at the Star Tribune (30 percent) or WCCO radio (25 percent).

Unlike some competitors, Channel 4 has limited job losses by letting go a few big names. Trompeter was especially vulnerable because she only anchored one show, the lower-profile, lower-revenue 5 p.m. newscast.

"I knew that all along," said a tearful Trompeter Monday afternoon, just hours after she got the bad news.

She was so aware of the possibility that in the past, she had asked her bosses to give her a head start getting things squared away if they knew her position was being eliminated.

She said that when she'd been called to the boss's office in the past, she'd jokingly ask if she needed union representation.

"They'd usually say, 'oh no, Jeanette, you don't have to worry about that.' Today, they totally didn't respond that way," she recalled. "I thought they might ask me to take a cut in salary, and even when I walked in and saw it wasn't just the general manager, it was the controller and news director, I was still thinking that.

"They just said, 'I'm really sorry' and I went 'Oh my God ...'

"I asked them when they knew, and they said Friday. And I said, why didn't you tell me Friday? And they said, we didn't want to ruin your weekend. And I said I would've liked to get myself together for the 5 o'clock news. They said 'you won't be doing the 5 o'clock news.' And that's when I started babbling."

Trompeter, who was recruited four years ago from a top job in Des Moines, said she was not given a reason for her dismissal, but knew "a lot of this is out of their hands; it's coming out of New York."

Although CJ loved portraying the unmarried anchor as a somewhat shallow party gal, Trompeter betrayed no self-absorption even at a moment that more than justified it.

"I'm in shock, but even though I'm in this high-profile position, people are going through the pain [of job loss] by themselves all over the place. I'm by no means the only person feeling the pain. I always wanted a family and kids, but right now, I'm grateful I'm the only one I have to worry about."

Trompeter's dismissal, and station's general manager Susan Adams Loyd's comment to CJ that "The future's going to require a different architecture" will no doubt chill anyone still making high six figures at Channel 4.

Like Trompeter, Don Shelby anchors one show, but the 10 p.m. broadcast is the biggest money-maker on the schedule. Amelia Santaniello and Frank Vascellaro each helm two shows, Santaniello at 6 and 10 and Vascellaro at 5 and 6. The other highly paid personality is longtime sportscaster Mark Rosen. If the revenue slide continues, it remains to be seen if Channel 4 chooses KSTP's low-buck anchor route, or slices its newsgathering staff.

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Comments (6)

The Star Tribune should hire Trompeter for the Newsbreak. Upgrade!

If the old model for print media no longer works, how can it for network or local TV stations? They are even more dependent on ad revenue and with the proliferation of cable options their audience numbers are going through the floor. It's hard the fathom what we will have for media options 10 years from now.

Not a wise move, I realize the price tag attached to these anchors and the current climate this industry is facing, but of anyone at 'cco she definitely had that 'it' factor. If I were SAL I would have cut Amelia and promoted Trompeter without a second thought. More savings and far less of a hit on the quality of product delivered.

If your name is Mick Anselmo, and you've still got to fill the noon-3pm slot on the old 830, do you find yourself dialing Jeanette's number?

That stinks. Aside from Tom Hauser, she was my favorite TV news personality of the entire Twin Cities market.

listen to the second post. I cracked when she did...