Chicago, L.A. operations suffer hits

Two of CBS’ largest O&Os, in Los Angeles and Chicago, have been hit by layoffs.

Also, longtime L.A. anchors Ann Martin and Harold Greene will retire when their contracts expire in May.

Employees at L.A.’s KCBS and KCAL plus WBBM in Chicago got word of the cuts Monday. The local news operation in Los Angeles is CBS’ second-largest behind WCBS New York. WBBM is No. 3.

Exact numbers weren’t disclosed, but 10-15 people were dismissed at KCBS-KCAL, with eliminated positions coming from both in front of and behind the camera. Reporters Jennifer Sabih and Jennifer Davis were among those who were let go.

In Chicago, Channel 2’s high-profile anchor Diann Burns, who was making $2 million per year, was let go in a purge that saw 18 staffers lose their jobs. Also dismissed were longtime sportscaster Mark Malone, health correspondent Mary Ann Childers and reporter Katie McCall.

There were also cuts on the network side, with a little more than 1% of the news division staff dismissed. “The Early Show” lost a handful of behind-the-scenes staffers — some in the technical and operations divisions — but “CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” took no hits.

“Like many news organizations, we’re taking into account changes in technology and newsgathering and utilizing our staff as smartly as possible,” said Sandy Genelius, veep of communications for CBS News. “Some open jobs are not being filled, some are being redefined and some are being lost.”

Greene is a longtime L.A. news personality. He has been with KCBS-KCLA as an anchor since 2001 after arriving from local rival KABC, where he spent much the 1990s. He currently anchors two newscasts for the duopoly.

Martin, who also anchors two hourlong newscasts, joined KCBS in 1994. Like Greene, she came from KABC and spent 13 years there as a general reporter and anchor.

It’s been a rough few days at many of the Eye’s local news affils. Last week stations in Miami, Denver, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Philadelphia all sustained layoffs, with about 15 jobs shed in each market. Boston was the worst hit, with about 20 cuts. There could be more to come, as several employees are contemplating buyout packages.

The timing of the layoffs on the network and affiliate side was coincidental and no further pinkslips are planned.

“Every one of our stations is different, but the one thing they have in common is they’re always looking ways to operate more efficiently and effectively,” said Mike Nelson, VP of communications for CBS Television Stations.

Layoffs at KCBS and KCAL come just less than a year after the news operations moved to their new state-of-the-art facility on the Radford lot in Studio City.

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