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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Lombardo’

Citadel Finalizes Acquisition of WLNE, Announces Plans for HD Conversion

Citadel Communications announced today that its acquisition of WLNE has been finalized.

In March, a judge accepted Citadel’s $5.8 million bid for the financially troubled ABC-affiliate in a Superior Court auction.

“The Federal Communications Commission approved the license transfer quickly and we are thrilled to take ownership,” said Citadel owner and CEO Phil Lombardo.

WLNE vice president and general manager Chris Tzianabos, who Citadel hired in April to execute the company’s vision for improving the station, described the occasion as “a great day for the employees of WLNE.”

Lombardo also took the opportunity to announce that WLNE plans to be broadcasting in full HD by September, which represents a $1 million investment by Citadel.

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Shouted Down by New Owner, Anchor John DeLuca Re-Signs with WLNE

After receiving a newsroom shout-down from his new boss, WLNE’s marquee anchor John DeLuca has signed a new two-year contract with the ABC-affiliate.

Earlier this month, news hit that Citadel Communications CEO Phil Lombardo laid into DeLuca moments before a newscast after he heard the veteran anchor loudly searching for a misplaced laptop. Reports paraphrase Lombardo’s message to DeLuca as “I could easily have your ass thrown out of here.”

Now, according to GoLocalProv, DeLuca has decided to re-sign with WLNE after sniffing around for another gig. A native of New England, DeLuca joined WLNE in 1999 and currently anchors the station’s 5, 6, and 11 p.m.

By signing DeLuca, WLNE maintains some on-air consistency. Since being acquired by Citadel, over a dozen staffers have been shown the door including DeLuca’s co-anchor Allison Alexander, who was recently replaced by Karen Meyers.

WLNE Anchor Desk: Meyers In, Alexander Out

WLNE has made its biggest on-air talent move since being bought by Citadel Communications earlier this year. The Providence ABC-affiliate announced this week that Karen Meyers (right) would anchor the station’s 5, 6, and 11 p.m. newscasts, replacing Allison Alexander, whose contract was not renewed.

Alexander had been with WLNE since 2007 and, according to NewsBlues, was the highest paid newsroom employee.

Meyers, a graduate of Boston College, has spent the last four years working as an anchor for NECN, the regional cable news channel owned by Comcast.

“Karen’s journalistic experience, anchoring/reporting skill and her knowledge of New England make her an outstanding choice for this critical position in our news department,” said Chris Tzianabos, WLNE’s newly appointed president and general manager, in making the announcement. Read more

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.

Read more

WJAR Set to Become First Providence Station to Broadcast in HD

After acquiring WLNE in March, Citadel Communications CEO Phil Lombardo said that one of his main goals would be to launch an HD newscast, pointing out that there are currently no stations in the Providence market airing local news in high definition.

Well, it looks like NBC-affiliate WJAR is set to change that.

WJAR general manager Lisa Churchville told The Providence Journal this week that her station, which is owned by Media General, would begin broadcasting in HD this month, perhaps even this week.

“We feel we’re the market leader, and we should be the ones to do it first,” Churchville told the Journal, saying that WJAR has spent roughly $2 million over the past three years to convert its operations to HD.

The Journal reports that CBS-affiliate WPRI and Fox-affiliate WNAC are also in the midst of converting to HD. It appears that Lombardo’s WLNE may end up being that last Providence station to make the switch.

Under New Owner, WLNE Issues Round of Layoffs

There has been a significant round of layoffs at Providence’s WLNE, the financially troubled ABC-affiliate that was recently acquired by Citadel Communications.

TVSpy has heard from multiple sources that as many as nine staffers were sent packing on Friday and Saturday, including chief engineer Jim Brown and  assignment editor Neil Remiesiewicz. Station management has yet to return several phone calls from TVSpy seeking comment.

Two photographers as well as a handful of production staff were also victims of the station’s Tax Day belt tightening.

Earlier this month, WLNE announced that vice president and general manager Steve Doerr would soon vacate his post. After a judge approved the sale of WLNE, Citadel’s Phil Lombardo said,  “We’ll tell them our philosophy and compare it to what their philosophy is, and hopefully get a gameplan together that works for everybody.”

VP-GM Steve Doerr Departs WLNE as Citadel Broadcasting Takes Over

WLNE‘s vice president and general manager Steve Doerr, who has been with the Providence ABC-affiliate since 2007, is set to exit the station as Citadel Broadcasting revamps its recent acquisition.

Doerr announced his departure in a memo to staff on Tuesday, saying that, “after discussions with Citadel over the last week,” he is stepping aside at the end of April.

Last month a superior court judge approved the sale of WLNE to Citadel. At the time, Citadel CEO Phil Lombardo said that he was going to visit the station to meet with Doerr and evaluate his leadership as well as “crawl all over the place.”

“They clearly have a sense of the direction they want to go,” Doerr told WPRI, assessing Lombardo’s company following their meetings. Read more

VP Marc Fauci Quickly Departs WLNE for Boston’s WFXT

Just over a year after joining Providence’s WLNE, Marc Fauci, the station’s vice president and director of sales, has jumped ship.

Boston Fox-affiliate WFXT announced this week that it had named Fauci vice president and general sales manager.

Fauci joined WLNE last February and his move to Boston comes just as the ABC-affiliate was sold in auction to Citadel Communications.

For the past few months, WLNE has been splitting its 7 p.m. time slot between local news and paid programming, including a Genie Bra spot that aired last week. Preparing a visit to WLNE, in which the company would “crawl all over the place,” Citadel Communications CEO Phil Lombardo told B&C that the attention WLNE has received over its 7 p.m. paid programming is “unfortunate.”

Citadel Communications CEO on WLNE’s Genie Bra Infomercial: ‘We Would Never Do That’

“We would never do that,” Citadel Communications CEO Phil Lombardo said about WLNE‘s airing of a Genie Bra infomercial in place of local news last week, a story first reported by TVSpy.

In a new interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Lombardo says that he is looking to move beyond the “unfortunate” Genie Bra incident and focus on building the Providence ABC-affiliate into a station that doesn’t have to rely on quick revenue fixes.

Lombardo tells B&C that he plans to improve the fortunes of his newly acquired station by improving WLNE’s news product. “We’ll try to make the news better and more viewer-friendly,” he said, “so we can become better citizens in the community.”

Lombardo also says that WLNE will begin broadcasting the news in HD by the end of the summer.

“Nobody is HD in the market,” said Lombardo. “All my stations are HD.” Read more

Judge Approves Sale of Providence’s WLNE to Citadel Communications

A Superior Court judge has approved the sale of Providence ABC-affiliate WLNE to Citadel Communications, a New York-based company which owns four stations in the midwest.

Citadel Communications entered the auction hearing as the stalking horse bidder and it appears that the company won with its original bid. Citadel will reportedly pay $4 million in cash for WLNE, which declared insolvency last summer, in a deal that will total $5.8 million.

“There is a lot of work to be done,” Citadel CEO Phil Lombardo told reporters following the hearing. “We now need to formulate our plans to make the station very successful.”

Lombardo is set to tour the station today and Steve Doerr, WLNE’s current vice president and general manager, told reporters that he isn’t worried about layoffs. Read more

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