Former KNOP Sports Anchor Says He Was Fired Over Skype

By Kevin Eck 

Swifte KNOP_304Former KNOP sports director Joe Swift told the North Platte Telegraph he was fired over Skype after saying goodbye on-air to two co-workers who had recently resigned.

Swift said his on-air goodbyes to both Tara Moore and Dennis McConnell two weeks ago. Moore had worked at the station for 18 years. McConnell had been there for 20.

“I was never told I couldn’t say goodbye to them,” Swift told the Telegraph. “We’ve been bidding farewell to outgoing employees and wishing them luck in their new endeavors as long as I can remember. We said goodbye to a cameramen who had only been there a month. It was just something we did.”


On Tuesday, he learned via email that an employee at the 10/11 station in North Platte had complained about his on-air comments about Moore and McConnell.

Later that day, Jacque Harms, KNOP news director, told him he was suspended from being on-air. He was still required to produce the sports broadcasts.

On Wednesday, Swift arrived at work with a suit — prepared for the suspension to be over and to resume on-air duties. Two hours into his shift, he was told to visit with Hedrick via Skype. That’s when he was terminated.

“They fired me over the Internet on my wife’s birthday,” Swift said. “I got to call her and say, ‘Happy birthday. I’m fired.’”

Swift said he had an idea his job was in danger when Gray Television took over his station in June. He said a meeting with KOLN news director Stephanie Hedrick left him stunned.

“One of the first things she told me was, ‘You’re not a match for our viewers,’” said Swift. “I was also told I would no longer be the sports director. I didn’t know what to say. I was stunned.”

Although stripped of his title, which he held since 1999, Swfit’s job responsibilities didn’t change — until this week.

News traveled fast. Swift’s phone began ringing off the hook. His fans and supporters texted, emailed and sent him messages on Facebook offering their condolences.

“The community support has been amazing,” Swift said. “It really means a lot. The time I spent at KNOP was unbelievable. When I worked for the Carlinis, there was a sense of family among our staff and with viewers.”

Thursday he got four job offers. Swift hasn’t committed to anything. Although he plans to stay in North Platte, he’s decided to leave the field of broadcasting.

One thing he will miss is traveling to small towns and telling the stories of teams and players.

“I loved that,” Swift said. “To get fired for the reason I got fired — it’s incredible, but I can live with it. If that’s the worst thing they could find to fire me for, then there’s no shame in that.”