Latest Layoffs: WNEP Grounds Chopper, Cuts Pilot

John Ruland and Skycam 16 in an Early WNEP Promotional Photo

John Ruland and Skycam 16 in an Early WNEP Promotional Photo

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.

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2 Comments

Filed under Cutbacks

2 responses to “Latest Layoffs: WNEP Grounds Chopper, Cuts Pilot

  1. I could be making this up, but I’m pretty sure Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is geographically the largest market east of the Mississippi. (One of the largest, at least.) I wonder to what extent they’re going to have trouble getting to the more far-flung parts of the market as a result.

    • Ken,

      Not sure about the geographic layout of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but I’ll have a look at an ADI map and check that out. There are some things that a chopper is just so good at, and it’s a shame to see one that has it’s own local identity, like WNEP’s, to be taken out of the sky.

      And hey… I’m really glad to have you post without my making a math mistake!

      Mark

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