Mark St. John joins news staff at KXLY
By Beverly Vorpahl
and Spokane Chronicle
Reporter Mark St. John, fired by KREM-TV two weeks ago, was hired Friday by KXLY.
St. John, known for giving a personal touch to television news, will be a news/talk host for KXLY-AM Radio and a news reporter and commentator for KXLY-TV. He will assume his new responsibilities in mid-February.
After working 16 years at KREM, St. John was fired by Jan Allen, the station’s news director, who reportedly told the newsman that she didn’t like his writing or on-air image.
For “Newscope,” KXLY-TV’s 5 p.m. news program, St. John will report on news and features. And he will have a 70-second time slot for personal observations on the news, said Jim Frandin, KXLY-TV news director.
In television, where even 30 seconds is costly, “it’s somewhat unique to make a commitment to give a minute or a minute and a half to something that is different,” Frandin said.
St. John also will host the afternoon “drive time” from 3 to 5 p.m. on radio, talking to listeners on the telephone, or interviewing guests in the studio, said Tom Sofio, program director.
Richard Clear, the radio announcer currently working from 3 to 5 p.m., had already informed station officials that he was planning to leave by March 1 to open a pizza shop in the Nine Mile Falls Shopping Center, Sofio said.
It’s been 20 years since St. John worked in radio. At that time, he was employed by KHQ-AM.
“I’ve worked at all the stations now except the Union 76 on the corner,” he quipped over the telephone Friday afternoon.
He also admitted to having a bad case of the “jitters,” like an actor has on opening night.
There was an outcry from St. John fans following his dismissal, which was reported in The Spokesman-Review and the Spokane Chronicle.
St. John said he was overwhelmed by the supportive letters sent to the newspapers’ editors and to KREM officials, as well as those he received at home.
“It was gratifying,” he said.
“I had expected to get the traditional gold watch from KREM,” he said. And while losing his job was a traumatic experience, the response he received has “reinforced my ego if nothing else.”
One of the people who responded was Sister Thomas Mary, a retired nun he had featured in one of his stories. St. John said she called him at home to tell him that she had put a note on the bulletin board, reminding the other nuns to remember him in their prayers.
“That almost brought tears to my eyes,” he said.
Saturday, February 3, 1984