Carolyn Kane, vice president of content for Channel 2 (known as The Deuce) and Channel 31, confirms that five editorial employees at the combined stations were laid off yesterday. Included among them: Chris Dunn, the primary weather forecaster for Channel 31; Charlie Brennan, a former Rocky Mountain News reporter who made the switch from print to TV prior to the tabloid's closure; Channel 2 reporter Audra Ensign; and a pair of behind-the-scenes employees, satellite-truck operator Ty Covert and photographer Robin Black. In addition, Kane believes that a number of business-side staffers were also let go. She referred questions about them to 2/31 general manager Dennis Leonard, who has not returned a call on the topic at this writing. With luck, more information will be forthcoming.
The moves are the latest in a series of pink-slippings at the outlets.
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Shortly after Leonard took over, around thirty people were relieved of their duties -- among them Channel 2 anchor Ernie Bjorkman, whose farewell has earned national media attention from the likes of the New York Times and Oprah. And as noted in the first blog linked above, another handful of editorial department types, including one on-air reporter, was shed in March.
Kane describes the reasons for the latest farewells as "purely economic" -- but she concedes that understanding the reasoning doesn't make things any easier for those who remain behind. "As you would expect, it's always hard to see people who you liked to work with go," she says.
Taking over for Dunn, who won a Westword Best of Denver award this year as best weather predictor in the market, is Channel 2 meteorologist Dave Fraser, who will now be offering weather predictions during all afternoon and evening newscasts on the two stations: 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. When asked if the consolidation of the stations made such a move possible, Kane replies, "It was only the economy that made it possible. I have somebody who can do meteorology during the same hours Chris could do it, but it's not a decision I would have made if I didn't have to. Because they're both very strong."
These days, unfortunately, being very strong isn't enough to guarantee ongoing employment.