Two former news anchors for WPTV-TV, Channel 24, are not quite out of sight, out of mind.
Bill Lunn has been hired as a morning news anchor and reporter by WMC-TV, Channel 5, and will show up on the NBC affiliate's programming starting Monday, according to Peggy Phillip, the station's news director. Lunn anchored the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news broadcasts of WPTV, an ABC affiliate, before being dropped from the station's air two weeks ago. "He's an outstanding asset, and we're happy to have him," Phillip said.
Michelle Robinson, who anchored WPTY's 5 p.m. news and the 9 p.m. news of sister station UPN 30, was let go the same week as Lunn, but she may be seeking legal redress of some sort and is having exploratory conversations with attorney Mark Wright, a former WPTV producer who had also been a colleague of Robinson's at WREG-TV, News Channel 3.
Ironically, Robinson had once lost her job as a general assignments reporter at 3, for allegedly violating company policy by taking a role in the film The People Versus Larry Flynt without express permission from management.
Robinson was able to win reinstatement, however,and later left the station for a position at 24.
Wright said he and Robinson had made no determination about a legal strategy but acknowledged that the two were investigating the relationship of Robinson's pregnancy -- and on-air remarks about it -- to the station's decision about her employment.
After the announcement week before last of the departure from WPTY of Lunn and Robinson, two other primary anchors for WPTY and UPN 30, Renee Malone and Ken Houston, also were marked for replacement, by imports Cameron Harper and Dee Griffin.
The two Clear Channel stations, the most recent entries in the Memphis television market, have been mired in a state of low viewer ratings for several years, and news director Jim Turpin seems determined to perform shake-ups in an effort to change that situation.
Turpin noted that, at his suggestion, Lunn and the other relieved anchors had been exempted by Clear Channel from the no-compete clause in each of their contracts which prohibits on-air activity on a competitive station for six months following employment at Clear Channel.
"He's a good guy. He deserves it," Turpin said of Lunn's new job opportunity. "It's more than a ratings matter. We were just faced with a situation that requires us to do something to have people notice what we do."
Turpin said categorically that there was "no relationship whatsoever' between Robinson's pregnancy or on-air comments about it and the fact that she was taken off air when she was.