KABC-TV and Terry Crofoot, the station’s general manager for the past five years, have parted company.
Crofoot, one of the few remaining ABC-reared general managers left in the Capital Cities-owned station group, is said to have left the station by mutual consent.
A search is on for a successor, with sources speculating that ABC O&O prez Larry Pollock will go outside the station in a quest to bring in new blood.
One name mentioned is Joe Ahern, g.m. of the group’s O&O in Chicago, WLS-TV. Ahern began his television career in sales working for Pollock, but observers noted his path to Los Angeles could be blocked because he comes out of the ABC side of the company.
If Ahern winds up with the job, he would become the latest of several Chicago broadcast execs to blow into L.A. from the Windy City. Bill Applegate recently moved from WBBM, the Chi CBS O&O, to KCBS-TV, while Mark Hoffman took over as VP of news for KNBC-TV.
Although Crofoot is credited with taking the station from a solid second to first place, he and Pollock are understood to have butted heads on a number of occasions over the past few years.
In a memo to staffers Tuesday, Pollock said Crofoot is departing the company after 16 years to “pursue a more hands-on career in the news business.”
Prior to becoming general manager of KABC in October 1988, Crofoot served as news director at the station for seven years. He joined KABC as director of news operations in 1977, after serving stints at KNXT (now KCBS) and KGTV in San Diego.
The departure has raised questions about the fate of Crofoot’s senior management team, which includes news director Roger Bell and program director Vic Heman.
Pollock, who could not be reached for comment, credited Crofoot in the memo with building the station’s morning audience with the addition of the top-rated syndie program “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” and an 11:30 a.m. edition of “Eyewitness News.”
The station also acquired the top two syndie programs in the market, “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” during Crofoot’s watch, two expensive shows that have made KABC No. 1 in access.
But the station also abandoned its broad commitment to original daily programming over the past few years, scrapping such staples as “A.M. Los Angeles” and “Eye on Los Angeles”– both of which were the signature pieces of the previous management regimes under former general managers John Severino and Tom Van Amburg.
The station blamed the cancellations on the high production costs for the local shows, which had undergone ratings erosion in their last few years.
KABC also bid farewell to the market’s two highest-paid anchors, Paul Moyer and Jerry Dunphy.
The new dean of L.A. TV general managers is KCAL-TV’s David Woodcock, who has only been on the job since April 1991.