KCBS-KCAL General Manager Out After Misconduct Investigation

KCBS Logo (Credit: CBS)

CBS has ousted the top managers at its local television stations in Los Angeles and Chicago, following an external investigation into allegations of racism and sexism at the network’s owned and operated stations.

Word of the changes came Thursday in a memo from Wendy McMahon, president and co-head of CBS News, CBS Television Stations and CBS News Digital. McMahon said the company decided to part ways with Jay Howell, general manager of KCBS-KCAL in L.A.; and Derek Dalton, GM at Chicago’s WBBM, following an “exhaustive” probe.

“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,” McMahon said in the memo obtained by TV news industry site FTVLive.

Related Story: Former KCBS Anchor Jeff Michael Sues Station for Discrimination

The changes at the two stations follow the April firings of then-CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn and David Friend, senior vice president of news.

Dunn and Friend were placed on administration leave in January, after the Los Angeles Times published an explosive exposé about an alleged “toxic environment” at the CBS stations.

The Times story included detailed accounts from former local news managers who alleged Dunn “cultivated a hostile work environment that included bullying female managers and blocking efforts to hire and retain Black journalists.”

CBS Chief Executive George Cheeks said Thursday in a separate letter that the company is taking steps to address diversity and inclusion issues explored in the investigation.

“While the investigation largely looked at events in the past, and the issues revealed were more pronounced in certain areas and at specific stations than others, there are clear themes that we need to address moving forward: our diversity, equity and inclusion standards need to be a top priority for leadership in every corner of our stations business; our workplace culture needs to measurably improve; and, your trust needs to be restored with your CBS leaders,” Cheeks said. “We have refocused our local priorities on content, culture and community connections, with special attention being paid to reflecting and representing our local audiences. This approach includes weaving the CBS News’ Race and Culture Unit into our community coverage.”

Related Story: KCBS Decimates On-Air Staff Amid Company-Wide Layoffs

As Urban Hollywood 411 previously reported, there have been numerous changes and departures at sister stations KCBS and KCAL in Los Angeles over the past couple of years.

Former KCBS newscaster Jeff Michael sued the duopoly in August 2020, three months after he was laid off from his position as an evening news anchor. Michael’s lawsuit alleged breach of contract and employment discrimination. However, KCBS said the suit was “entirely without merit.”

In addition to laying off Michael, the station let go of fellow anchor Sharon Tay and weathercaster Garth Kemp.

Popular weekend news anchor Elsa Ramon and evening anchor Leyna Nguyen also exited the station.

In 2018, Ramon told Urban Hollywood 411 she decided to leave KCBS after years of frustration over scheduling and salary issues.

“…the company gave no one raises at all. At that point, that’s when I realized that it seems to me that flat is the new raise, and that just wasn’t good enough for me and my family,” Ramon said.