After hiring a retired FBI agent to conduct a thorough investigation, WADL fired Kevin O’Brien this week, just two months after the Detroit independent station hired him as a consultant to “aggressively make changes.”
WADL issued a press release this week announcing O’Brien’s termination, saying that he had violated “numerous corporate policies.”
“I am deeply saddened that in this day and age this type of behavior still exists,” WADL CEO Kevin Adell said in a statement, without going into specifics. “I have zero tolerance for this, and I will personally disgorge any money paid to Mr. O’Brien as a consultant for the past two months.”
So what happened?
O’Brien’s behavior was apparently serious enough that Adell chose to hire a retired FBI agent to conduct an investigation. After reviewing the P.I.’s findings, Adell immediately fired O’Brien.
Although WADL officials have not commented publicly about the situation outside of the press release (and TVSpy’s calls to station management have not been returned), there are clues in O’Brien’s past as to what may have led to his recent termination.
This isn’t the first time that O’Brien’s employer has issued a press release to announce his dismissal.
In 2004, Meredith abruptly fired O’Brien, even though he was widely credited for turning around the company’s broadcast group.
At the time, Meredith declined to elaborate on the dismissal but months later it was revealed that O’Brien had a well-documented history of making race-tinged comments.
Among the comments O’Brien reportedly made while with Meredith…
“We can’t right all the wrongs of the Civil War; we’ve got to quit hiring all these black people.”
“You shouldn’t hire old black guys. These guys don’t listen, they have attitudes, and you can’t control them.”
Regarding a business deal, which he declined, with a minority-owned station: “I’ve never seen a minority broadcast enterprise work in my entire life, especially if they have control!”