In what can best be described as a bloodbath, KCBS-KCAL in Los Angeles decimated its on-air staff during layoffs this week.
The cuts began Wednesday afternoon with longtime L.A.-market news anchors Jeff Michael and Sharon Tay being let go. Weathercaster Garth Kemp also exited the station.
The investigative unit at the CBS-owned duopoly known as the “I-Team” was cut as well, an insider told Urban Hollywood 411. Investigative reporter David Goldstein, who is known for his segments uncovering corruption among Los Angeles city government workers, is expected to now report on general assignment news, the individual revealed.
“Everyone is stunned and saddened,” the insider said about the layoffs.
The changes continued with news anchor Sandra Mitchell getting cut. By Thursday afternoon, Mitchell’s biography page had been scrubbed from the station website. Morning traffic anchor Jennifer Kim was let go as well, and her bio was removed from the station website.
Over the past two years, KCBS-KCAL has had a series of dizzying changes. Weekend evening anchor and weekday reporter Elsa Ramon left in May 2018, followed by longtime newscaster Leyna Nguyen in July 2018. Anchors Andrea Fujii and Jackie Johnson also left the duopoly. Evening news anchor Rick Garcia left the station as well. Garcia took over for beloved anchor Paul Magers, who announced his retirement in 2017.
Viewers seemingly tired of the changes and KCBS has struggled in the ratings. The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that the CBS O&O trails KABC-TV, Spanish-language stations KMEX-TV Channel 34 and KVEA-TV Channel 52, and KNBC-TV in viewers.
After these latest cuts, the insider told Urban Hollywood 411 that the situation at the duopoly will only go from bad to worse with no I-Team and no morning traffic anchor.
Media outlets across the nation face challenging times because of a loss of advertising revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But the cuts at KCBS-KCAL were particularly deep and followed last year’s merger between CBS and Viacom. According to published reports, there were also cuts this week at the CBS-owned stations in Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, and the network news division.
CBS News President Susan Zirinsky told staffers in a Wednesday memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter that management was forced to make “difficult decisions” as a result of “the economic fallout from the pandemic coming on top of the cost savings initiatives already underway from the merger of CBS and Viacom.”
The network news division parted ways with about 50 staffers this week, according to THR.
“There isn’t a single person leaving who did a bad job,” Zirinsky said. “It’s economics. It is absolutely the financials that has forced us to make these decisions… I’m really sorry. There is not a person who won’t be missed.”