A Los Angeles news personality was fired Thursday after an on-air monologue criticizing his station over the exit of a co-anchor.
Mark Mester of KTLA-TV had been suspended by the station after a Saturday broadcast in which he went off-script to complain about the management’s treatment of Lynette Romero. Romero left abruptly last week after being with the station for nearly 24 years, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Last week, KTLA announced that Romero, a longtime anchor of its popular weekend morning show, had left the station without saying goodbye to viewers, drawing wide outrage and criticism,” the Times reported.
“After nearly 24 years, Lynette Romero, our friend Lynette, has decided to move on from anchoring our weekend morning news. KTLA management had hoped she would stay here her entire career, and KTLA worked hard to make that happen, but Lynette has decided to move onto another opportunity elsewhere.”
After nearly 24 years at KTLA, our Lynette Romero has decided to move on and pursue another opportunity. We wish Lynette nothing but the best of luck on her next chapter. pic.twitter.com/dnjrhCItSs
— KTLA (@KTLA) September 14, 2022
In a follow-up article, TheWrap gave details that explained some of the anger over her departure: “Romero, reportedly beloved by her colleagues in the KTLA newsroom, wasn’t permitted to clean out her own belongings or say goodbye to longtime viewers of the newscast.”
The Times quoted anonymous station sources who provided background: “Romero no longer wanted to work weekends and had asked management to allow her to work a weekday anchor shift so she could spend more time with her family, but she was told there were no openings. She reportedly has been hired at KNBC-TV, L.A.’s NBC affiliate, as one of its weekday morning show anchors.”
Was KTLA right to fire Mark Mester?
It is common practice in the TV news business “for newsroom manaers not to give airtime to talent leaving for a competitor station,” the Times reported.
Fans responded with complaints about the abrupt change. Romero was low-key about her departure, but on the day of the announcement, she retweeted a comment by one viewer, Michael Mattes.
“Granted I’m just a viewer and don’t know the whole ins and outs of what happened but the way the amazing @LynetteRomero was seemingly dismissed today without giving her a proper goodbye opportunity is a BAD look,” Mattes wrote.
Romero’s Twitter post responded with gratitude for her viewers’ support and a hint at her plans: “Stay tuned my friends I’ll be right back.”
I will always be grateful for the love and affection LA viewers have given me. Stay tuned my friends I’ll be right back.🌻 https://t.co/H6BcRuR8VJ
— Lynette Romero (@LynetteRomero) September 15, 2022
“Mester went off-script during a Saturday broadcast, saying the handling of her exit was ‘cruel’ and ‘inappropriate,’ and apologized on the station’s behalf. The four-minute ad-lib ignored a written script from producers, who declined to show footage of a plane Mester hired to fly a banner over the station that said ‘We love you Lynette.'”
He was suspended shortly after the incident and was let go Thursday afternoon, the Times reported.
The report said one longtime anchor at the station described Mester’s behavior as “unprofessional” and “reckless.”
“It was supposed to be shown over a script that was warm, loving and appreciative. It was awesome, and [Romero] would’ve loved that,” the unnamed anchor said of the farewell segment that producers had planned. “Mark hijacked that and made it about him.”
Staffers said Mester’s departure was announced to the newsroom Thursday afternoon, the report said.
The KTLA website no longer lists him on its roster of reporters and anchors.
“Mark Mester is no longer employed by KTLA,” a representative of the station’s parent company, Nexstar, told TheWrap. “As this is a personnel matter, we will decline further comment.”
Mester did not respond to requests for comment from TheWrap or the Times. He had been with the station since 2014, according to the Times.