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Longtime ND Bob Morford on Leaving WCPO: ‘It’s Good for Any Newsroom to Have Turnover’

When news spread on Thursday that longtime WCPO news director Bob Morford was leaving the station, it was difficult to overlook the fact that the announcement of Morford’s departure came less than a day after the station suffered a major technical meltdown during its 11 p.m. newscast.

In reality, though, there is no connection between the two events.

“My departure has absolutely nothing to do with [the technical mishap],” Morford told TVSpy this morning.  “It’s my bad fortune that that happened the day before I made the announcement.”

Morford said that he had decided to leave the station in December and had a handful of conversations with GM Steve Thaxton about it over his holiday vacation.  It just so happened that Morford’s first day back in the office came right after the newscast meltdown.

Morford, who has been WCPO’s news director for over a decade and a news director at some station since 1981, decided that he wanted to take some time off to take a look at his life and evaluate what his career options are moving forward.

He turns 55 on April 18th and that will be his final day at WCPO.

Morford told TVSpy that he has “a year’s worth of money” saved up so he’s going to take some time to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

WCPO is now beginning its search for Morford’s replacement and the veteran news director believes that the newsroom could use a fresh set of eyes.

“I think the newsroom could use some new leadership,” Morford said.  “It’s good for any newsroom to have turnover at least once a decade.”

WCPO’s new news director will not begin before March 1st.

As for the Wednesday night technical meltdown, WCPO had trouble loading rundowns into its Ignite system minutes before the start of the 11 p.m. newscast, which delayed its start time.  After some scrambling during the newscast, the station’s engineering team did a full shutdown and reboot of the system, which fixed the load issues.

Here’s the email that Morford sent out to staff on Thursday, announcing his departure…

From: Morford, Bob
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 6:21 PM
To: WCPO All Users
Subject: It’s Been An Honor And A Pleasure!

Everyone…

I held a meeting in the middle of the newsroom about 90 minutes ago and shared with them the information below.  For all I wasn’t able to see in person, please know I look forward to seeing you soon.

Here’s the scoop…

With the end of the year just completed, I took the opportunity to vacation with Margaret in one of the most relaxing places I’ve found: Mendicino, CA.  We watched the waves roll in from the Pacific and spent some lovely time checking out the local wineries for which the region is famous. As I had intended, I discussed in depth with Margaret my plans for turning 55 on April 18, 2012.

I have been with Scripps for over 13 years, which is much more than twice the average tenure of a News Director at any one company.   So, I believe that it is time for me to do something different.  What that is, I am not sure at this point, but I feel I should not be out there exploring all my options and trying to run a successful newsroom at the same time.  One or the other would suffer and I do not want that for any of you or the station.

For those of you who don’t already know this, Scripps is an especially generous company that has provided the ability for all of us to retire at 55, if we so choose.  While I certainly do not intend to quit working permanently, I have decided to take some time off and consider how I want to finish my working life.  If you ever have the opportunity, I recommend you consider it before you wake up one day in your late 60′s and the work journey is over!

Therefore, earlier this week, I informed Steve of my plans and he has agreed to begin looking for my replacement.  I have encouraged him to begin looking immediately so that the transition is seamless and everything goes smoothly.  Steve has been a true gentleman about my decision and has worked everything out for me with Scripps.  Our plan is for me to be available to stay through March 30, with the last two weeks being vacation time, leading up to my birthday.  If Steve is successful sooner rather than later, you may see my departure as soon as February 29, the last day of the February book.  If the search takes longer, then I will be here as he needs me through at least March 30.

All of you at WCPO have helped me grow both professionally and personally over these past eleven years.  As we look for the next News Director, you may trust that I will do all I can to conclude my tenure with a Big Win in February!   I have no doubt that your very hard work and enduring positive spirit will bring all of you success in the coming years.  As for me, just know that it has sincerely been an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this newsroom.

…Bob

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