Another victim in the WPIX carousel. President and GM Rich Graziano is out. As the newscasts have struggled to find viewers, especially on the new 6:30 p.m. broadcast, Graziano becomes the latest member of Tribune management to face the fire. Tribune says in a statement that Graziano “decided to leave,” although multiple sources confirm that he was fired. Staffers saw him carrying boxes out of the office at 3 a.m. Tuesday.
Graziano takes the high road in his departure letter, as he ends a 17-year association with the media company.
“Here in NY we have accomplished much at WPIX. I’m very proud of and thankful for the leadership team and all of the staff that is so dedicated and passionate about PIX 11.”
He also pointed to the “cutting edge” Barclays Center studio that got created under his watch.
“Waldman obviously has a bullseye on her,” one station source says. “Under her leadership each newscast has lost more than 40 percent of viewers.”
Many see the handwriting on the wall, and expect Waldman to follow Graziano out the door.
While morale is at an all-time low on East 42nd Street, Tribune is putting its best face on a difficult time. They’ve announced Greg Easterly, former WGN general manager, as interim GM and SVP in New York. He is expected to have an important role in picking a new PIX management team.
Even those still in the Waldman camp privately think she’s on borrowed time.
“When your newscasts are averaging 0’s in the key demo, a GM and news director change is expected,” a source says. “Waldman was never qualified and ratings reflect that.”
Earlier this year, the popular Kaity Tong returned to weeknights for another attempt by the station at 6:30. But teaming with WWOR veteran Brenda Blackmon, implemented by Waldman, has fallen flat.
“We need some fresh blood who’ll take our suggestions and not just blow us off,” an insider says.