KREM-TV may have sacked Mark St. John
By Theresa Goffredo
and Cheryl Ernst
The Spokane Chronicle
Mark St. John, a well-known KREM-TV personality who has been with the station 16 years, told the Chronicle late Thursday that he had been fired.
Today, however, the station’s news director, Jan Allen, said St. John wasn’t fired, but wouldn’t give details of her discussion with him.
St. John said Thursday that Allen “told me if I’m cool and be nice I’ll get four weeks” more to work.
“She said: ‘You don’t fit into our future plans.’ She told me ‘I don’t like your writing and I don’t like your on-air image,'” he said.
Allen, however, told the Chronicle today: “He was not fired. We did talk about future plans for the station. It’s a Jan Allen policy that I don’t talk about personnel matters; I really feel anything that’s said is between me and the employee.”
Dennis Williamson, KREM-TV station manager since last February, said he “knew the direction we were going was not the direction Mark was going.”
Asked about rumors of more departures in the offing at the television station, Allen said that KREM will not have an entirely new news team.
Allen said Jack Groh will come from WBZ-TV in Boston February 1 to fill a vacant weekend anchor slot. Reporter Dave Balut and cameraman Dennis Dwan, who worked with Allen in Lansing, Michigan, already have arrived here to fill other vacancies created by resignations or reassignments, she said.
The station’s program manager, Bill Hall, is resigning to work with an enterprise starting independent stations in Portland and Seattle, Hall’s secretary said today.
Allen said she plans a news program that is “a little more aggressive, more progressive” and a little faster paced. Viewers will see new sets and co-anchors broadcasting live from different locations.
But some viewers said they will miss St. John’s style.
“For the Spokane community, he had a nice perspective,” said one viewer, who said she was surprised at the announcement after the station’s promotion of St. John’s human-interest features last month.
Hugh Davis, assignments director, said he was “perplexed at the notoriety” the situation was receiving, likening the situation to changes in the reporting staff that followed changes in management at The Spokesman-Review and Chronicle.
A longtime media observer not associated with the station said he wasn’t surprised at the turnovers given the new management at the station.
But Allen said she wasn’t hired with orders to make wholesale changes.
“They (station management) saw the type of show I did in Lansing and thought it’d be good for Spokane,” she said. “I’d like to be the best – to serve Spokane and meet their needs.”
“I’ve always done what I thought was a good job,” said St. John, adding that he considered the dismissal “capricious,” but that he wouldn’t appeal the decision
With a pension of $189 from his $20,000 salary, St. John said, “I’ve gotta find a new job.”
The veteran reporter, who is going through a divorce and has his 19-year-old stepdaughter and 12-year-old son living with him, said he plans to stay in Spokane.
“How does a 56-year-old guy find a job?” St. John asked, saying he will accept any job that will put his talent to good use.
Friday, January 20, 1984