In the most-recent twist to this ongoing story, WHEC released a statement regarding the allegation that Rebecca Leclair would be terminated or not have her contract renewed.
The statement read as follows from VP and GM of WHEC Derek Dalton:
“In the wake of recent public speculation, I have received a number of inquiries concerning Rebecca Leclair’s status at News Channel 10, WHEC-TV.
It’s not at all clear who recent unnamed “source(s)” may be, but they got this one flat wrong.
Let me set the record straight: Rebecca Leclair has not been fired. Station management has no intention of taking that step. In fact, WHEC– and Hubbard Broadcasting– values Rebecca’s reputation in the Rochester community and her long history of excellence in journalism. That is why, just last November, I personally offered Rebecca an extension to her existing contract, which, to our disappointment, she declined.
What is true, is that Rebecca’s union and station management have a disagreement about the interpretation and application of one clause in the station’s collective bargaining agreement with SAG-AFTRA, of which Rebecca is a member. While out of respect for Rebecca WHEC has taken every effort to keep this matter confidential, it has now unfortunately been thrust into the public eye.
Despite good faith efforts on both sides to amicably resolve our disagreement, to date we have been unable to do so. An arbitration on the matter is scheduled for next week. Simply put, if at the end of the process Rebecca ends up leaving the station, it will be the result of her choice, not station management’s.
Importantly, Rebecca has been the consummate professional, even with the distraction of our pending dispute, and we thank her for her continued professionalism– which was most recently on display in her market-leading, wall-to-wall coverage of the Rideout trial.”
WHEC, a Rochester-based NBC broadcast news station, came under fire in the last 48 hours, following the termination of two longtime staples.
Veteran meteorologist Kevin Williams posted a statement to Facebook around 3 pm on Thursday, following the statement letting viewers know that Hubbard Broadcasting, the company that owns WHEC would not be renewing his contract.
“I regret to tell you that WHEC management has informed me that they intend to opt out of the final year of my contract which was due to begin September 1,” Williams’ statement read.
It sent shockwaves through the region, as Williams has become a staple in local meteorology – even forming his own meteorological consulting firm. He noted that between his day job, and consulting firm, his workdays were often 12 to 18 hours long.
“I am sure that I will miss the television aspect of my job, but I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” he continued.
He thanked loyal listeners and viewers for the support and even suggested that he may look for ways to continue connecting with them via Facebook. Williams had begun holding nightly Facebook Live chats dubbed WeatherByWilliams. Those were largely viewed as successful, fitting into the mold of modern, broadcast news.
Bob Lonsberry, of WHAM blasted Hubbard Broadcasting’s decision to part ways with Williams. He immediately said that the station would lose viewers, which prompted an outpouring of support on social media for his take.
Then on Friday, Lonsberry took to his blog to share more bleak news: WHEC would also be parting ways with Rebecca Leclair, a longtime anchor and reporter for WHEC.
Lonsberry spoke to a few employees of WHEC, who painted a rather bleak picture. “It’s a blood bath over here,” one reporter allegedly told Lonsberry. “Please tell me if you hear I’m about to get the ax.”
No statement was issued following the news that Leclair was out at WHEC, less than two full days after WHEC announced that they would part ways with Wililams.
The moves create a level of uncertainty at the station, which appears to have employees across-the-board concerned about long-term stability.
Here’s more coverage on this developing series of moves by WHEC:
Kevin Williams has been a familiar face delivering the area weather outlook on television screens in Rochester and the central-western Finger Lakes region for over 20 years. On Thursday Williams announced that Hubbard Broadcasting, the Minnesota based company that owns WHEC, would not be renewing his contract that expires at the end of this month. Since the announcement, there has been an outpouring of support on social media for Williams and Bob Lonsberry of WHAM lambasted Hubbard Broadcasting in an editorial piece that you can read here.
The full statement from Kevin Williams posted to Facebook around 3:00 pm on Thursday afternoon:
Greetings, All. I hope this message finds you well.
I regret to tell you that WHEC management has informed me that they intend to opt out of the final year of my contract which was due to begin September 1.
I have been blessed to work with kind and talented people during my 21 years with the station and will always be grateful for that opportunity. We lived through some great storms together.
Since 1983, I have been honored to serve the people of Rochester and the Finger Lakes as a television meteorologist. But those duties combined with those of operating a meteorological consulting firm (radio, industrial and forensics) have often meant 12 to 18 hour work days. My new schedule will allow me to focus more on my business and its many clients as well as spending evenings at home with my family. I am sure that I will miss the television aspect of my job but I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. I thus optimistically embrace and welcome what the future may hold.
Here on Facebook I have been able to connect with many of you. Our evening FB Live chats via WeatherbyWilliams have been most enjoyable and I am exploring ways to continue interacting with you moving forward. I thus hope that you will stay in touch.
So, thank you for your support and friendship. And, as always, keep looking up!
Wishing you Blue Skies…