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Monday, November 10, 2008

Klaas Dismissed

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Was it Larry Klaas’ ego that got him fired? Was it an alleged demand for more money? Or was it that Dick Descutner (our news director) simply wanted to make a change, and Barbara Sloan gave him just that opportunity? It all depends on whom you ask.

There were mixed feelings around the station when we learned Klaas was being ousted. He had his supporters, led by producer Arlene Ross. There were also people who felt a sense of liberation when word filtered down. Klaas was stunned by the dismissal, and told The Miami News’ Tom Jicha he was considering retiring from broadcasting. Obviously he reconsidered, and made a new start (albeit a little rocky) at KGUN in Tucson

Everyone in the newsroom had a Larry Klaas story to tell. If he was having a bad day, you knew it. In 1981, when my father was dying, I told producer Jerry Fisher that I might need to take a few days off. Klaas sat me down the next day, and in a stern voice, asked me why I told Jerry and not him. (This was before I became a producer. I was still a lowly Chyron operator/film archivist). Well, Larry, it was late and Jerry was still at the station, working on her nightly discrepancy report. You were gone for the night. Sorry I stepped on your toes, big guy. Show a little compassion for a guy whose dad is dying, will ya?

Yet I liked Larry. He was quick to criticize, but unlike a lot of managers, he would also tell you when you did a good job. I wished him well, and I meant it.

You’ll notice in Tom Jicha’s article that Descutner “found” Larry’s replacement, Barbara Sloan, through a five-second lead-in on another reporter’s audition tape. That was sort of how it went down, but it wasn’t Descutner who found her. The reporter on that tape was a former colleague of mine at WNWS, prior to my coming to Channel 6. He and I had something in common: both of our lives changed on March 17, 1980. Someday soon I’ll tell you that story.

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