WEST PALM BEACH — After years of downward ratings, WPEC-CBS12 abruptly fired news director Cathy Younkin this morning, Gossip Extra has learned.
“An announcement was made, something about her leaving to pursue other interests,” said a newsroom source, “but it’s pretty clear to everybody that she was canned.”
The mood in the newsroom?
“It doesn’t appear that too many people are crying.”
General Manager Michael Pumo confirmed that Younkin is no longer at the station but declined to comment further.
Since she arrived in 2009, Younkin overlooked a newsroom in transition where big salary earners like former anchors Curt Fonger, Juan Carlos Fanjul and Emily Pantelides either quit or were let go, and cheaper talent was brought in.
By most accounts, Younkin lacked the capacity to promote the newsroom and the station to the public.
She rarely returned calls from newspapers and those who cover the TV industry, even when the coverage promised to be positive for WPEC.
Several embarrassing incidents occurred under her tenure, including the arrest and conviction of an underling on charges that he tried to hook up with a 15-year-old boy. He was recently sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison.
Last week, viewers heaped a healthy dose of scorn on new anchor John Discepolo after he had complained to police about someone who twittered what he perceived to be a threat.
The man was arrested and jailed until he posted bond, then all charges were dropped — but Discepolo got sucked into a Twitter war in which he told some viewers to get therapy for “daddy” issues.
Younkin wasn’t able to stop a steady slide in the ratings, from a solid second behind WPTV-Channel 5 to a steady third behind WPBF-Channel 25.
In the television biz, ratings slides often translate in lower revenues.