WNEP/Scranton is officially out of the high speed chase business. Next time a goofball in a stolen car decides to make a run for it and delight producers at MSNBC, Skycam 16 will sit it out. “In today’s economy, the helicopter has become a luxury we can’t afford,” WNEP GM Chuck Morgan told the Times-Tribune.
The station didn’t say how much it’ll save by cutting Skycam 16 and laying off pilot Randy Freeman, but the Times-Tribune reports the cost-cutting leaves WNEP without one of its biggest and most enduring promotional draws: “Skycam 16 made its debut in 1984 and quickly became WNEP’s most recognizable symbol. The helicopter is often flashed across the screen at the opening of the station’s news broadcasts. A photo of Skycam 16 appears at the top of the WNEP Web site.”
WNEP’s decision to surrender the skies follows a rash of bigger-market chopper sharing arrangements also aimed at saving money. Local newsers who work in the air, already a pretty small bunch to begin with, admit the cuts have them watching their backs. “It’s getting scary,” one told us.