Joe Larkins rolled the “breaking news open” and scooped everybody on the departure of Andy Wise from the station on the river.
This is big news. Andy is a name most mid-south viewers know well. Some love him, some hate him. The important thing is…people look for him. Andy came to WREG a few months before I did in 1997. He soon became a household name in the Memphis market with his tenacious style of consumer and investigative reporting.
Andy’s one of the best at what he does and don’t let anyone kid you: this is a big coup for WMC and a big loss for WREG. It’s not every day a reporter is able to gain anchor-like status at a station but Andy certainly reached those heights quickly. And he’s done it the right way. He works as hard or harder as anyone I’ve ever known.
All of his hard work has paid off for him as I suspect (but don’t know) that WMC will write a handsome check every two weeks to have him on staff.
But what drove me to post here tonight is how stations let people walk out the door for the last time. I guess it’s been a NYT policy to escort employees from the building once their time is done. It happened with dozens of people I worked with and it happened to me.
I understand there’s reason for concern that a former employee could cause a scene as they walk out of the newsroom for the last time. I also understand the concern stations have for allowing someone to work out a notice if they’re going to work for a station in the same market.
But escorting a long-time employee from the building without so much as a farewell wave has an effect on newsroom morale.
That’s the way the NYT has always done things, but WREG is not a NYT station anymore. I wonder if the Oak Hill folks kept this policy in place. I doubt it. From what I’ve learned from managers who made the switch, the Oak Hill owners have given them the directive to “use your best judgement” on things big and small.
I think Andy being escorted from the building, which I’ve heard from several people, was a mistake. Sure…you probably couldn’t let him work out a two-week notice since he’s headed to WMC…but let the guy leave with a little dignity. No…I don’t mean Andy left without his dignity, but WREG lost some dignity with the way he left this morning.
He’s a big guy. He’s a professional. He’s an adult. He’s worked there for 10 years for crying out loud and worked his tail off for that station and the people who run it. At least, let him gather his things, say a few goodbyes and leave on a positive note. Instead, WREG escorts him out of the building like they would a transient who wandered in off the street.
Here in Nashville, they’ve had several people leave either to go to work at another station in town, out of town or who were let go or fired. But they’ve allowed them to say goodbye to their co-workers before walking out of the building. They didn’t have an “escort” like they might run by the supply cabinet and grab a couple of free pens and highlighters.
They said goodbye to their co-workers and friends and left with a smile on their face and their dignity.
I hope for the sake of the everyone working at the former NYT stations that the new managers choose to be a little more human when a good employee chooses to leave.
Good luck on Union Ave. Andy. But I don’t think you’ll need it.