A Los Angeles television station has separated from a popular anchor after he went on air to criticize the administration’s handling of the departure of a colleague, officials said Friday.
Mark Meester won’t be in the anchor chair when KTLA’s “Weekend Morning News” airs on Saturday, one week after he appeared as off-script to transcribe the station for not saying goodbye more than his senior anchor Lynette Romero.
“Marc Meester is no longer an employee of KTLA,” according to a statement released Friday by Nexstar Media Group Inc. in Irving, which owns the CW affiliate Channel 5 in Southern California. “Since this is a personnel matter, we will decline any further comment.”
Last Saturday, Meester appeared to choke on tears in telling viewers that the station should be ashamed of itself for not giving Romero a ceremonial farewell.
“I want to start now by offering you an apology. What viewers experienced was rude, it was cruel, it was inappropriate, and we are deeply sorry,” Meester told viewers in an emotional nearly four-minute testimonial to his message. A former co-worker. “I also want to say sorry to Lynette Romero. I love you so much, you are literally my best friend. You don’t deserve what happened to you on Wednesday.”
Meester’s monologue was delivered alongside three of his colleagues and was accompanied by reels from Romero’s work and photos from her personal life.
Three days ago, KTLA announcer Sam Rubin announced on air that Romero had left the station.
The words Robin read on air last week mirrored a statement that Nexstar, which owns the station, made on Friday to NBC News, and attributed it to KTLA Vice President and General Manager Janene Drafs.
“After 24 years, Lynette Romero decided to move on from delivering the morning news to the weekend. We really wanted it to stay, and KTLA management worked hard to make it happen,” according to the Drafs statement.
“Lynette decided to leave for another opportunity. We had hoped she would record a farewell message for viewers, but she refused,” the statement said. “Lynette has been a wonderful member of the KTLA family and we wish her and her family the very best.”
But the mere farewell did not satisfy Meester.
Although he praised the Drafs on air on Saturday, he fell out with unnamed chiefs over Romero’s exit method. Meester said Romero left KTLA to pursue another “opportunity.”
“It was unfortunate…it was not appropriate and we are very sorry for that,” he said of KTLA’s management. “Lynette deserves to say goodbye. It didn’t happen. I don’t know who wrote the script. I don’t know who handed it to Sam Rubin. Regardless, it was a mistake. We owe you an apology, and we owe Lynette an apology.”
Meester did not respond to messages seeking comment on Friday.
Older TV reporters and anchors often receive loving wills on the air when they retire or quit their jobs.
But when those characters leave live for a competing network or station, dismissal is often instant with little or no mention of their soon-to-be employer.
KTLA did not say if Romero had taken another job, and could not be reached on Friday for comment.
Television news contracts typically include non-competition clauses, which prevent a reporter or broadcaster from working for a competing station for a specified period of time, often six months.
Mister Romero thanked her for her guidance and said he had learned that “dignity and grace” are the key to success.
“So we say goodbye to you today,” Meester said on air. “We will give you dignity and grace, which is what the station should have been doing from the beginning.”
Meester told viewers that a plane was dragging the phrase “We love you, Lit!” The message was flying over the station at that very moment. He shared a video of the support jet pulling up the banner on his Instagram, writing, “Now is the perfect time to tell @lynetteromero you love her!”
Lisa Torres Contributed.
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