KOMO news director Holly Gauntt talks to TVNewsCheck about how Sinclair Broadcast Group, which acquired the ABC affiliate last year, has made an investments in the news division with the goal of dethroning ratings leader KING:
Gauntt, who’s been at KOMO for seven years, says staffers were wary of Sinclair, which has a bad rep in newsrooms for cutting staffs and airing right-wing slanted news. And Sinclair did layoff a reported 18 KOMO staffers including editors, satellite-truck operators, writers and producers, a move that got them slammed in the local press.
But Gauntt says many of those cuts were long in coming, due largely to Fisher being heavy on unnecessary personnel. “You don’t want to lose people, but at the same time this station had never made changes that came with technology,” she says.
At the same time, Gauntt says, Sinclair asked her what she needed “to be the No. 1 station in the market.” They responded, building the station’s first new set in 15 years and buying loads of equipment including three cellular bonded units, a satellite truck, new computers and five cars.
“Yes, we all heard the horror stories but that’s not what the reality is,” she says. “I don’t know what’s happened in the past. But what I do know is that it is a breath of fresh air, and a nice surprise, that this company now is committed to news. We are telling them what we need to be No. 1 and they are delivering.”