LA, Chicago CBS General Managers Out After Company Culture Investigation

By Kevin Eck 

After what it called an an “extremely thorough and exhaustive” look into “our organization and culture,” CBS News and Stations said it’s looking for new leadership at KCBS-KCAL in Los Angeles and WBBM in Chicago.

As of Thursday, KCBS-KCAL gm Jay Howell and WBBM gm Derek Dalton were no longer with the stations. While no specific allegations were announced, the moves are the latest within the newly created CBS News and Stations group after a bombshell Los Angeles Times article alleged misconduct, racism and misogyny within the station group.

Howell started working at KCBS in June 2019 while Dalton was named gm of the Chicago station in 2018.

In an email, George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group told staffers, “The investigation cited painful revelations about experiences that we cannot tolerate today or in the future.”

Saying the investigation largely found “issues” that were “more profound in certain areas and at specific stations than others,” Cheeks went on to say “Our workplace culture needs to measurably improve and your trust needs to be restored with your CBS leaders.”

In April, CBS announced plans to form a new division of ViacomCBS combining the journalistic and business resources of CBS News and CBS Television Stations. Last week, that team, led jointly by Wendy McMahon and fellow president and co-head of CBS News and Stations, Neeraj Khemlani, announced a new head of its stations focusing on the eastern half of the country with plans to hire additional presidents in the future.

Here’s a copy of an email sent by McMahon, first reported by FTVLive:

Hi, everyone.

This is an important day for all of us at CBS Stations.

After six months of an extremely thorough and exhaustive review of our organization and culture, I am writing to let you know the external investigation into leadership at our Stations has concluded and, as a result, we will be seeking new general managers for our Los Angeles and Chicago stations.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to talk to the investigators. Your care and concern for your colleagues…and your courage…have enabled us to move forward.

Our future is dependent on our ability to lead the way in local news and to connect deeply with the communities we serve. Over the past weeks, I have been meeting with each of our station leadership teams, elevating content, culture and community as our priorities across CBS Stations. Our success is only possible if we come together and start rewriting the future we want for our stations now. It is only possible if leaders at every level of the organization share the same commitment…the same values and priorities.

While acknowledging the range of emotions from the past few months, today is an opportunity for all of us to look forward. George, Neeraj and I are committed to leading with transparency, respect and inclusion…to cultivating a spirit of collaboration and innovation…to doing the right thing for our united organization and teams as we reimagine our brands and businesses during a time of tremendous change.

We will begin our search for new leaders in Los Angeles and Chicago immediately and I will keep you posted as we move forward. In the meantime, I know this day may be difficult for many of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your department head, Human Resources or me if there is anything we can do to support you.

Wendy

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