The round of layoffs that struck CBS television stations around the country hit the Twin Cities today.
"Paul Douglas is no longer with the station," WCCO spokesperson Kiki Rosatti told me this afternoon. Earlier this week, anchor John Reger was let go in a "restructuring" that has hit local CBS stations across the country hard. About 8 persons were let go on WCCO's television side and the company is offering "a limited number of buyouts" to staff members.
Earlier this week, stations in New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco announced layoffs, including local big names.
In Boston, for example, long-time sports personality Bob Lobel was let go. In analyzing the situation, the Boston Globe said the layoffs mark the "end of the celebrity broadcaster in local television."
"We are still committed to this community," said WCCO spokesperson Rosatti, who blamed the layoffs on a "down economy."
CBS Corp. reported a 14.6% decline in its fourth-quarter earnings. The broadcasting division has set a 1 percent workforce reduction.
(Update: By way of comments, Minnesota Monitor has Douglas' farewell memo)
Update 4/7 10:32 a.m. - See follow-up discussion post.
"the Boston Globe said the layoffs mark the "end of the celebrity broadcaster in local television.""
Gotta pay the national celebrity broadcaster somehow. Call it the Couric round of layoffs.
Paul over at Minnesota Monitor has the email Paul Douglas sent to friends and coworkers.
I guess that's how it goes in broadcasting, but it is unfortunate for the many 'CCO viewers who watched just to see Paul's quirky delivery and comic relief. I have been in broadcasting for 13 years, so I understand how this all goes; but I was the viewer also, who looked forward to Paul's weather every day. It won't be the same without him, and I won't be watching 'CCO anymore either. I am hoping to see him pop-up over at KARE, or on the Internet. Best of luck Paul.
It's just a shame that the big wigs keep their behind-the-scenes jobs and bloated salaries yet axe the most entertaining person on their entire news staff. I specifically watched CCO for Paul and, like Jaso, I won't be watching any more. KARE 11 will get my Neilson Rating now. CBS is going down the tubs fast and I fear it's not over yet. Fair winds and following seas, Paul. I know you'll do well.
Layoffs are part of the business -- a part of every business -- but these sorts of things are always difficult and serve to remind us that behind the numbers, there are lots of faces.
To me, this relates to the poll out this morning that indicated how "concerned" people are about the future.
For a lot of us old-timers -- I'm 54 -- we're literally seeing the end of an industry and it's not much different than what the steelworkers went through. Still, it's scary... very scary. Those of who've been in the business a long time know that if it happens to us, we're done. When the steelworkers were turned out, it's not like they could get another job in a steel plant.
In many ways, it's the same in the media in this generation. It's the joy of being the "older worker."
But as I was told many, many years ago when I got swept up in one of these "Black Fridays" (in Boston), "you ain't been in radio, 'til you've been fired."
The economists who analyzed today's unemployment numbers pointed out that a major problem right now is that the downturn affects so much of the economic spectrum, with the exception of health care.
Don"t pretend to know all the circumstances around this layoff of Paul Douglas. Kind of lets you know where this world is headed. Down the tubes with then rest of the economy. Sure proves that man cannot fix things on his own. Wish you the best.
I will miss you Paul Douglas.. you were my favorite weatherman. I feel sad to see you go. I don't pretend to understand how the broadcasting business works, but it seems they made a mistake on this one. All the best to you Paul!
The departure of Paul Douglas from WCCO TV saddens me. Truly, he was part of a brilliant marketing concept that made the news at 6 and 10pm stand out. Compelling TV night after night. It worked.
It was said that one of the generalizations taken from The Mutiny of the Bounty trials was that the navy was designed by geniuses but run by idiots. Could it be with the sloppy handling of the Douglas departure that the network is being designed by CBS idiots, while the station is being run by resident geniuses? I think so.
Shock is what I felt when it was announced on the news tonight that Paul Douglas was no longer on the news team. What a tragic mistake WCCO execs made by letting this wonderful, charismatic man leave. I can honestly say that Paul was not only a wonderful meteorologist, but a pleasure to watch. He made you actually look forward to the weather report. I watched Paul Douglas when he was with KARE11. I watched the night he announced that he was going to propose to his now wife. We were so happy for him. We were so sad to see him relocate to Chicago. To our delight he returned home to Minnesota and was again on the air with CCO. Paul, you gave us 11 wonderful years and you will be missed more than you could possibly know. You were the reason I switched from watching KARE11 to WCCO. I will miss the banter between you, Don, Amelia and Frank. Your friendship and respect for each other made watching the news a pleasure despite all the horrendous happenings around the world. We wish you luck and hope that you find a new home on TV soon. Please let your fans know where we can watch for you. Sincerely, Valerie Christianson
I was very upset to hear that Paul Douglas wouldn't be back to WCCO. I was just commenting to my mother how much I enjoy the chemistry between everyone on the 10:00 p.m. newscast--especially between Don Shelby and Paul Douglas and what a wonderful fit when Frank and Jeanette joined the team as well. It was a pleasure to watch the broadcast. Letting Paul go is a mistake--the same kind of mistake all big shots make when they begin to choose penny pinching over quality. Never let it be said that anyone in corporate America ever made a decision that didn't benefit their own pocketbook above all else.
WCCO Execs, Please ask yourselves, will the loss of countless viewers offset the money saved by letting Paul Douglas go? Simply put, one sometimes must spend money to make money.
I, for one, will be switching to Kare11.
Recall, please, what happened when our beloved Bill Carlson was let go, for a brief time.
Respectfully submitted, Rebecca Bischoff
Paul Douglas was the ONLY reason to watch local TV news casts. (You can say pretty much the same for the entire 5 and 6 p.m. channel 4 news teams; I'm in bed before 10, and Shelby is too pleased with himself anyway.). This is what happens when quarterly profits rule the world. If media excutives blame their problems on the web, well, this is one more move that simply makes the web more attractive. Bang! Was that my foot? J. J. Williams
I think it's symptomatic that the biggest story on WCCO tonight was the history of the hockey puck. It was "kind of" interesting, but is it really news?
I don't really understand the strategy here and it gets back to the Susan Jacoby liveblog earlier this week. Is the news getting dumb because that's what we want. Or are we dumb because the "news" is.
True, the times they are changing but it's clear what passes for "news" now on TV isn't working, and thus the execs had to act.
Most of the spokespeople for the CBS stations all said the same thing in announcing their layoffs this week. "It won't affect the quality of the programming."
Sadly, that's true.
As the song goes, That's Infotainment!
But Bob, I hope we'll have you and Mary Lucia around on the Current for at least a little while longer... ;-)
We're not exactly the canaries in the coal mine.
Another good one bites the dust. Paul was always interesting and good to watch. Most of the time the weather is pretty dull but he kept us smiling or down the basement when the weather was bad. We miss you already Paul. GOOD LUCK .
I, too, watched WCCO specifically and expressly because of Paul. And I, too, will now be switching to KARE. Attention WCCO brass: you messed up big time, kids!
WCCO TV shown so very brightly a short time ago, when they dedicated the needed staff and technical resources to let us say a respectful goodbye to our longtime on air friend, Bill Carlson. That proud light has quickly dimmed this week with the quiet and unceremonious dismissal of our beloved Paul Douglas.
Here in the Midwest, we live and die by weather forecasting. Paul has been our friend and chief weather guru for 22 years, serving as a leading force of weather tools and programming trends. And, he's made the weather fun for viewers, while innovating and being the best at what he does.
To push Paul out into the night without showing appreciation and respect to him -OR- 'CCO's dedicated viewers is unbelievable, unconscionable, unacceptable! We expect (and deserve) so much more from 'CCO! At the very least, a gracious on air thank you and goodbye by Paul himself. CBS has set a new low for 'CCO in community sensitivity regarding its staffing changes...somewhere down low near the notorious Hubbard operation.
By the way, KARE11 has served our community well by posting a warm tribute and acknowledgement for Paul. It just isn't right how Paul's career ended at 'CCO, without even a goodbye from our friend. Shame on both the CBS and 'CCO execs.
Is big profit really more important than value? We out her in the boondocks (west central Minnesota)really relied on Paul Douglas' knowledge, forecasts, and warnings, always delivered with intelligence, compassion/humor (whichever was pertinent, given the circumstances). BIG BUSINESS apparently doesn't always know best, and may learn that, in the long run.
I couldn't tell by today's weather column in the STrib from Douglas (it pretty much mirrored the email he sent to friends) whether he's going to continue the newspaper gig or not.
He says he made too much money in this era of tight budgets. I wonder how much that is.
Hey, Paul .. !!.. Your wonderful humor and banter with Shelby will be missed!! You and all the others are like family that we invite to our homes every evening to share dinner with and end the day with the news wrap up. My memories of 'CCO go back a long way .... Dave Moore used to come to The Barbers I worked at, along with John Gallos, Bud Kraehing, Bill Carlson, and so many others.... You and your great sense of humor, and knowledge of weather always made my day .... It will be sorely missed .... All the best .. and Happy Trails to You .......may we'll run into you in Brainerd, where we live now ....one never knows what tomorrow will bring .... ......
Long time 'CCO watchers .. Rick and Linda
No offense to Douglas and his fans, but we're talking a few minutes of weather here. If that's why people are still watching TV news, the hockey puck story left the building a long time ago.
Paul's letter was posted on the Rake website too: Paul's Letter
p.s. I don't really so much about 'CCO or CBS. They kind of showboat around the news and I don't care for it much. For MPR and The Current on the other hand, I have feelings of ownership and loyalty. And I really worry, I am worried, for the future of the Current when I read stories of changes (City Pages) that don't reflect the values of the supporting members. I am concerned.
The thing about the layoffs is that Douglas was THE face that everybody knew so that's the one people are reacting to. But there are others who few will react to because they don't know them. And yet they contribute to the pursuit of journalism, presumably.
I made another post about this today. When you hear people throw around the word "quality journalism," what are they talking about if the history of the hockey puck qualifies?
There was a story the other night about the Vikings stadium study. The station -- I can't remember which one -- spent time and money to have someone report the story from in front of the Metrodome, where a Vikings game hasn't been played in about 4 months. Why?
Just when I thought CBS had the best news reporting crew locally as well as nationally , you fire my favorite meteorologist . This guy was my favorite kid when I volunteered at SMM in the early 80's . Me , I'm an almost 90 year old war horse . A retired research scientist , last and for 22years with CDC . Paul's weather programs were groundbreaking and brilliant and to fire him just hardens my position that says , don't trust any big corporate outfit . Fortunately I have the right to vote with my remote control , which I will exercise . CBS penthouse : YOU STINK !
I, too am disgusted by the layoff of Paul Douglas. 'CCO used to be a class operation, but recent lapses in judgement (thank goodness management wasn't too proud to right the Bill Carlson wrong before it was too late), have lowered my previously high opinion of the station.
How can you let one of the highest valued members of the news team go without negotiation? If you had any sense at all, and absolutely had to let one of the news team go ... it might have been a wiser move to say goodbye to Amelia ... in my opinion, a totally unnecessary member of the news team.
I have much respect for Don Shelby, so ... if he goes, I go ... straight to KARE 11.
Sincerely, Carol a 50 year viewer
I was disappointed to learn that Paul Douglas was laid off. I wrote with my concerns to WCCO and this was the e-mail response I received after contacting them on Friday night.
"On Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 5:00 PM, Kasel, Jennifer J wrote:
Thank you for your email. We appreciate you taking the time to write us regarding Paul Douglas' departure. We fully appreciate the connection our on-air news talent have with the viewers in our community and therefore recognize that saying good-bye, especially under these circumstances, is not easy for anyone.
Please understand, however, that these matters are often more complex than they seem on the surface. Thus we are limited in what information we are able to share as we are ethically and legally obligated not to violate the privacy of colleagues and former colleagues.
We are thankful for Paul's contributions to both the station and our community and wish him great success in all of his endeavors.
Thank you again for writing.
Manager, Communications and Content
WCCO TV is always on wcco.com"
I received the same e-mail Niki got, word for word. Sad, but telling that the execs - local or national - aren't held to answering for their actions. I'd like to see them take a few weeks - months - whatever - to personally answer viewers' comments. Seems like a reasonable penance for their actions.
There's not much to add to what's already been said above, but yes, CBS has been going downhill for years. (Cronkite was the standard in my lifetime.)
CBS's / WCCO's treatment of Paul Douglas is a shame. I'm not overly fold of getting my news form the web, but more and more I do so. It sounds as though that's where we can find Mr. Douglas in the future. I sure hope so.
Most of corporate america still does not get what damage layoffs do on a personal level. While I understand why layoffs happen, the fact is it doesn't have to be this way. I always felt this, and the story of the Saint Paul company, Reell Inc. demonstrated that tough times can be weathered without the trauma and long-term effects of layoffs (http://www.reell.com/index.php?page=history). In fact, such events can make a company stronger, since the employees feel more like they are an important part of the company.
It looks like CBS may be ready to get out of the news business. According to the New York Times, they're in talks to outsource some of its news operation to CNN.
CBS disputes the report.
I am not surprised at all to hear the WCCO’s viewers drop and profit dipping.
I remembered that I emailed WCCO a long time ago suggesting that WCCO should have
- MORE NEWS,
- NOT comments (especially Don Shelby’s 10:o’clock comments! Sorry Don, I like your radio show, but not this one),
- Reduce the boring chattings and ha, ha, ha(s).
You simply waste your time and $ in the air.
Some of the new hires were not well catching up to the speed either to attract the local viewers.
The FATAL FAILURE is to let Frank and Amelia run the show together. This makes WCCO4 look like a mom/pop shop. Many people switched the channel just because of this.
Letting Paul Douglas go is a blunder. The only time I watch WCCO was for Paul’s weather update. He was one of the bests.
Well. it’s a good time for WCCO’s management to rethink their programs, reshape the organizations and reassign proper anchors to get your audience back!
John – Maple Grove
I think we should outsource our news and weather to China!
There was , speaking of Amelia and Frank, a husband-and-wife team who OWNED Boston TV for decades. We got the whole 9 yards, stories about her pregnancy, the birth, yada yada. It worked great, until they divorced.
Anyway, Say, thanks for all the comments. I know a lot of folks ended up here because if you Google "WCCO layoffs" you end up here. I'd like to encourage you all to stop back often.
I have to be honest with you, though. I can't forecast the weather.
Maybe cbs is tired of it's junk science liberal personalities standing on their soapboxes,instead of reporting unbiased, factual news!
I was stunned when I heard Paul Douglas was gone, without even a goodbye. Our family plans our day around the weather. I miss getting that from Paul. CBS and WCCO are all business, no human side to them.
Although the CBS and WCCO big-wigs have made a huge mistake with the dissmissal of Paul Douglas, I will still remain loyal to 'CCO.
I don't like how the three other network news stations sound like they think THEY are so great. I want the news, not self-basking.
We will all miss you, Paul. You made thye weather a pleasure to watch.
CBS News Flash!
It's all about family here in the upper mid-west.
For nearly two decades Paul Douglas has been family to us here is the Twin Cities. Through sun, snow and storm we have relied on his counsel and enjoyed the pleasure of his company. Many of us have moved with Paul as he has moved. Both from KARE11, to the internet and print media and then to WCCO. We have spent our hard earned dollars with CBS's advertisers over the past years with Uncle Pauls good blessing. I realize that it was a "Business Decision" that CBS terminated Paul Douglas as weatherman at WCCO. So I hope that CBS does not take it personally that we the "Fam" (the thousands of Twin Cities viewers) have terminated CBS as our weather and news source. Dear CBS, Please forward our change of address to your advertisers who can now find us at KARE11, FOX9, KSTP5 and other broadcasters in this market. Please, do not be offended that we are taking away your precious advertising dollars, it's not personal, it is strictly a "Business Decision" :-)
By the way, would the last person out the door at CBS please shut off the lights. Thank you.
Amen to that Bill!
My money and news is now KARE11.
At least they were decent to Paul Douglas.
Good Luck Paul. You the MAN!
BIG MISTAKE WCCO.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU SEE 4,13,15,17 YEAR OLD KIDS WATCHING THE NEWS BECAUSE THEY LIKE THE NEWS PERSONALITIES? OUR KIDS DID, AND NOW THEY ARE MAD BECAUSE THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND CORPORATE PROFITS.
HAVING RETIRED FROM THE US ARMY LAST YEAR AND JUST RETURNING TO THE AREA. I AM SOMEWHAT AMAZED AT HOW DUMB ALL THE COLLEGE EDUCATED MANAGERS CAN BE.
AS AMERICA CONTINUES TO TURN INTO THE GIANT WHOREHOUSE IT'S NOW BECOMING,THERE WAS A PLACE EACH NIGHT WE COULD ALL TURN TO AND LISTEN TO A RESPECTABLE HUMAN BEING TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER, AND THAT WAS PAUL DOUGLAS.
I'VE LIVED ALL AROUND THE WORLD, AND THE ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DISLIKE THE MOST ABOUT AMERICA IS OUR CUT THROAT MENTALITY ALONG WITH OUR CONSTANT NEED TO BE RICH AND WEALTHY AND MAKE PROFITS.
WHEN DOES IT END??
NO CLASS IS THE NEW AMERICAN NORM.
FIRE THE ROOKIES AND BRING PAUL DOUGLAS BACK.
IF NOT I WILL SEE YOU ALL AT KARE 11.
Bring back, Paul! Bring back, Paul!
Harumph! What a disappointment, WCCO execs!
As a twenty-something trying to make it in this fast-paced world I've ALWAYS made time to watch 'CCO's news... Largely because Paul Douglas' friendly face was there to forecast tomorrow's weather. In fact, the colicky baby I care for would only stop crying when he saw Paul's face. Now that he's gone, I go too... and the baby just won't stop screaming.
Paul Douglas should consider going to a bigger market where his first class intellect, knowledge, comedic timing and bedside manner could be more appreciated by the powers that be. He is a unique guy that has it all. As much as we would miss you here Paul, go to a larger market where you will be paid what you are worth and valued far more than WCCO showed in this final hand they dealt you. You are too good to stay around here and settle.
don't like the way 'cco handled this/shame on you!!I too won't be watching 'cco anymore! Paul was a hoot, will miss him..it's a shame they('cco) didn't give him a chance to say goodbye..God Bless you and your family Paul.......sincerely
Paul it's sad to see you go. I remember when you came to St. Peter after the tornado. I watched you since before you covered the storm. I wish you the best of luck in whatever you do. You are truely missed. (No more WCCO for me)!
This just follows the corporate thinking that is found in most companies today. That one warm body can be replaced with a cheaper less experienced warm body and everything will be business as usual. CBS has lost a lot of style points letting Paul go. It really puts a bad taste in my mouth. I LOVE to watch Don Shelby, Frank and Amelia too! SO CBS WCCO PAWS OFF! Don't make two big blunders in a row! Paul was great and I used to tell everyone how much better the WCCO team was than KARE11. You had a great news team, everyone just seemed to fit together so well. You've messed up the balance. If your ratings drop it would server you right! You execs should have made cuts behind the scenes. Have you thought that maybe there's too many chiefs making too much money!? I can assure you the viewers wouldn't miss any of you execs! Next time cut some of the fat in that department first. Best of luck Paul. If somebody's smart out there they'd snap him up! He has a loyal viewership.
My husband and I had been commenting fairly recently and consistently about how empty the 10pm tv news had become, but frankly we just watched WCCO out of habit & to tune into Letterman when it was over. (We customarily do a dog walk right after Paul Douglas' weather report.) We too were aghast both at Paul's dismissal and by the demeaning, impersonal way the WCCO Decision-makers went about this. If I remember correctly Paul was out on vacation when he was fired. I was reminded how Amelia was demoted off the 6/10pm broadcasts WHILE SHE WAS OUT ON MATERNITY LEAVE....as Craig Ferguson often says, "Hmmm, remind you of anybody????" Needless to say I shot off an email to WCCO, and unlike the earlier writers never received any type of response. And I have ceased watching WCCO news. Perhaps the deal is indeed that WCCO is trying to get out of the news business. The way they're doing it is dumbing it down, getting rid of the more effective on -air personalities, and just waiting for the rest of their audience to disperse. When we need a tv news fix it's now off to KARE-11. Adios and happy trails, Paul!
To quote Kurt in Zimmerman, MN: "Forecast - Cloudy and rainy for WCCO for many years to come!"
We sure do miss Paul's weather reports, measured humor, and team camaraderie. Getting our weather from Paul had always made us feel a bit safer, smarter, and happier!
Paul, best of luck in your new endeavors! We're happy to hear you'll "be OK". We can only hope that we will too, when the spring/summer Midwest storms blow into town!
(In the current required cost-cutting environment, image our surprise to discover 'CCO TV has already posted job listings for Weather Anchor and News Anchor positions!)
Our family has already adopted KARE 11 from WCCO-TV. Paul was a well-liked fixture on 'cco. We also liked Don Shelby, but his monologues are a huge waste of precious TV time. But it is better than watching the 5 people as a backdrop to Minnesota Thunder soccer games. Thank goodness that Rosen hasn't shown any soccer bore-lights for 2 years. What's next? 'CCO-TV offering a job to C.J. Oh, pulease. That's not journalism. That's BET in print.
Chris Shaffer will replace Paul Douglas as chief meteorologist in 2008 Mike Augustyniak will replace Chris Shaffer as morning meteorologist for WCCO 4 NEWS.