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At Troubled WLNE, New Owner Shouts Down Veteran Anchor Before Newscast

After acquiring Providence’s WLNE, Citadel Communications CEO Phil Lombardo said that he would “crawl all over the place” in scrutinizing the station’s operations. Well, he certainly made his presence known recently as he dressed down WLNE’s main anchor John DeLuca in the middle of the newsroom.

Lombardo was at the station recently when, moments before a newscast, DeLuca discovered that his laptop, which he uses at the anchor desk, had gone missing. According to GoLocalProv, Lombardo overheard DeLuca’s frenzied search for his laptop and didn’t like what he was hearing:

According to station insiders, somehow Lombardo heard the DeLuca chatter about the laptop and flipped out. Literally screaming at DeLuca and making suggestions along the line of “I could have easily thrown your *** out of here” … Mind you, this is NOT happening in an office with the door closed—it is happening in the open newsroom where everyone is just watching and listening to DeLuca being yelled at.

DeLuca has been with WLNE since 1999 and by all accounts is a level-headed guy and conscientious co-worker. While the search for his laptop may have been overly frantic, it appears more likely that Lombardo was simply looking for a moment to send a message to WLNE staffers.

Morale at the station has been low since Citadel issued a round of layoffs in April. In addition to cutting staff, Citadel has reportedly made other belt-tightening moves that have upset the WLNE news team, including shuffling reporters’ desks around to make room for technical equipment and requiring that the transmitter be turned off overnight.

By going toe-to-toe with the face of the Providence station, Lombardo issued an ultimatum: “My way or the interstate 95 highway.”

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