On WHDH/Boston’s Website, Anchor Vet Vanishes Overnight: It’s Like Randy Price Never Happened

It must’ve been a long weekend for the Newsplex trolls at WHDH/Boston, what with so much history to erase, you know?  Word leaked out Friday in a breaking news post on boston.com that the longtime main anchor at Channel 7, who’d anchored the news Wednesday night, had met with station owner Ed Ansin Thursday and “mutually agreed” to leave, effective immediately.  “While I certainly was a little stunned, I understood it very well,” Price told the Boston Herald. “When you own the station you have the right to do things the way you want to do them and I respect that.” Since then, Ansin’s publicly described Price as a “friend” who’s “retired,” while Price has firmly stated he may take some time off, but he’s definitely not done.

As is standard in sudden departures like these, station management goes quiet, desks are cleared out, pictures removed from walls, promos are re-edited, and websites are scrubbed.  Suddenly, the main, mustachioed face of Boston’s big, bold, splashy station, shrugs at the mention of the name “Randy Price.”  Come again?  Enter Price’s name in the search box of WHDH’s website tonight, and it will return precisely zero hits.  “Did not match any documents,” the site told me, suggesting that I re-check the spelling or try different key words.  I wonder how long it takes to remove every reference to a man who’s been the dominant face of the station for 12 years?  

Unlike the heralded and highly promoted (genuine) retirement of another Boston legend, Natalie Jacobson, Price will get no on-air farewell, and viewers who look to the WHDH website for an explanation of Price’s he-must-not-be-named disappearance will get no explanation.  As I’ve written before, this type of pretend-he-never-worked-here posture has the cold, clinical feel of altering the history books in the old Soviet Union, updating them to remove references to suddenly out of favor figures.  Don’t viewers deserve a little better? 

To do the “what?  who?” routine only makes all the “news team family” stuff seem so transparent and fake. Like the item WHDH put on its website in 2007–and still searchable in cache form on Google–describing Price’s noteworthy marriage to his partner, Mark Steffan, on Boston’s Statehouse steps:  “We want to congratulate an important part of our team.  Randy Price got married today.”

When that “important part” of the team was let go, the station–like so many others–left it to the newspapers to explain.  On 7, it’s like he never happened.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “On WHDH/Boston’s Website, Anchor Vet Vanishes Overnight: It’s Like Randy Price Never Happened

  1. Chris

    I’ve come to conclude that TV news–the local variety, especially–is nothing more than glue holding commercials together. Viewed through that rather accurate prism, it’s easy to see why people are tuning out in droves. Randy is a classy guy at a less-than-classy station. One only need to rewind through the past year to see what embarrassment WHDH has brought upon itself. It really is a playground of adolescents there.

    • Chris,

      What’s disheartening for local newsers like myself, who believe in the power of local television news to inform and hold local officials accountable, is that the first place many station owners are going to cut costs in these tough times–are right to the very people who make local television unique: the experienced, the savvy, the people who CHOSE to stay in a city because it’s home or they love it. People like Randy Price, who don’t need to be told who a certain state legislator is. People like Andrea McCarren in DC, who has decades of experience doing solid journalism. And at WNBC in NY, countless journalists, who were cut because they’d been there long enough to be household names, and in the process, simply made too much money. The kid from Pocatello may not know where (or what) Bay Ridge is, but hey, they’re cheap. And they’ll fill the time in the newscast.

      It’s sad because many of us just can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel where the experienced people who made local news a trusted medium will return to their jobs when ad revenues return (if they do). This may be an era where the talented are sent off, and don’t come back. Randy Price sounds determined, though, and that’s inspiring. I wish him all the best.

      And thanks, Chris, for reading the blog, and sharing your thoughts.

      Mark

  2. Chris

    You are an astute person…your blog shows it! I just discovered it, and it is very well put together. I’ve bookmarked it! My question: Is what you see cyclic, or is this the ‘new reality?’

    • Chris,

      Thanks for the kind words. And more importantly, for reading the blog. I think the inspiration for the blog (which is only a few weeks old) was answering that very question: is this cyclic, or a “new normal?” And if it’s a new reality, what’s the financial model that allows that model to work and remain viable? I have a of questions, and with your help, and the insight of others, we’ll figure it out. It’s a scary time, but clearly a time of change. My hunch is things will not simply revert to the way they were when the economy recovers and the auto dealers and supermarkets start buying ad time again.

      Mark

  3. Mike Albers

    I, along with an overwhelmingly huge population of New Englanders will sorely miss Randy Price. Randy is the absolute pinnacle of excellence and professionalism.

    To me, Randy has been like a revered, valued and trusted friend who kept me apprised of what’s happening in Boston and the world in a most cordial, professional and no-nonsense manner.

    Simply put, Randy is the BEST in the industry. His leaving Channel 7 is a tremendous loss for them and a bigger loss for us. For even a single night, without Randy coming into our living rooms and our lives it is indeed a sad day and a monumental loss for all of us.

    Thank you Mr. Price for giving us all so much—we will follow you wherever your path takes us!

  4. Chris

    I agree 100% about Randy; indeed, in a curious sort of way this episode shines an unflattering light on the anchors and reporters still left at the station.

  5. Joe Downey

    I had a friend who worked at Channel 7 in the 1980’s. His job was to proof read and correct everything written there from scripts to letters being set out. He told me that the rally song that they played before every Broadcast was Don Henley’s “Dirty Luandry” just they are still playing it. Randy is a class act too bad he was not at WCVB

  6. Maureen

    From all that I’ve heard and read on Randy’s departure, I don’t know how you could ever think it was a money issue. When Randy really is the ONLY thing holding together that flimsy effort of thin content and smoke and mirrors, how does it make business sense to cut him. I don’t know much about tv ratings and so forth, but it is a big business still and I would be willing to bet that the station just lost at least the equivalent in business of whatever Randy was making through all of the ill will that I am seeing on every newspaper, blog and other media in this city. Contrary to what Channel 7 probably presumes, people don’t have short memories.

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