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Dunphy back on KCAL news

Jerry Dunphy, the veteran anchorman who has been a TV news fixture in Los Angeles since 1960, returns to the air at KCAL today less than three years after he ankled the station for a disastrous stint at KCBS.

It is believed that the 76-year-old Dunphy is being paid significantly less than the estimated $1.3 million in salary and benefits that he has earned from KCBS in a three-year pact that continues to pay him through January. Dunphy has been receiving paychecks from KCBS despite his having been ousted 19 months ago.

In the newly configured KCAL lineup, Dunphy has been assigned to co-anchor the 8-8:30 p.m. (with Pat Harvey) and 10-11 p.m. (with Terri Merryman) weeknight editions of the station’s primetime news block. The station had trumpeted his return in August but had yet to find a spot for Dunphy on the air.

Dunphy had been pushing to get back on the air ever since KCBS bounced him from its anchor lineup in March of ’96, little more than a year after the Eye web-owned station had trumpeted Dunphy’s return home in an expensive promo and ad campaign.

“Unfortunately, the promises KCBS made to me couldn’t be kept after Westinghouse bought CBS,” Dunphy recalled. “I’m just grateful that we were able to work out an agreement enabling me to return to work before the contract expired.”

Sources say that Dunphy will be earning roughly half of the better than $1 million annual salary he pulled down during his first 5-1/2-year stint at KCAL (1989-95) when it was owned by the Walt Disney Co. The station was purchased 11 months ago by Young Broadcasting.

Dunphy said that he believes his being hired for a job at age 76 is in itself remarkable.

“I don’t think any guy my age has ever been hired to serve another three-year term,” he said.