I've written a lot of stories about TV station departures in 35 years. This one is most unusual.
When Sinclair Broadcast Group announced layoffs earlier this month, WKRC-TV sportscaster Jed DeMuesy thought seriously about an opportunity to leave television.
Covering sports required him to work nights and weekends; being away from his wife and 13-month-old son. He already had achieved his goal while attending Miami University and interning at WKRC-TV. He dreamed of working full-time at Channel 12 after graduating in 2007, which he did six years later.
So when one of the eight WKRC-TV layoffs was a fellow sports reporter, DeMuesy volunteered to leave to work for a commercial real estate firm, preserving his friend's position.
"It's not this noble gesture," insisted DeMuesy, who came to Channel 12 in 2013 after working at stations in Marquette, Mich.; Zanesville, Ohio; and Champaign, Ill. "This is a move with myself in mind first. I said, 'I'll go. I've got something lined up.' This decision was accelerated (by the layoffs)."
WKRC-TV eliminated eight positions this month as part of Sinclair's 5% nationwide staffing cuts. Channel 12 cut both editorial staffers at its Cincinnati Refined lifestyle website, Phil Armstrong and Katie Robinson, and six other positions. Three were in news and sports; two were creative services employees; and one engineering position.
For a while, the Massilon native had been talking to Miami classmate Tim Bratz about working for his Legacy Wealth Holdings, a Cleveland-based commercial real estate investment company. Its $415-million portfolio includes 4,800 rental units in 12 states.
DeMuesy will be doing videography, social media and digital promotion from his home here for his old friend. "He's been wanting to expand his social media presence for a while," DeMuesy says.
Channel 12 viewers have already seen the last of him. His final day at the station is Friday, March 19. As is the custom in layoffs, he wasn't allowed to appear on air after the company agreed to let him out of his contract. He plans to shoot video of Taft High School's basketball tournament game and write a story that someone else will read.
"I kind of like that. The last show will be business as usual," he says.
I've written a lot of stories about TV staffers quitting in recent years, many of them from Channel 12. DeMuesy says he appreciated my interest, but really didn't deserve to have his story told.
"I've only been here eight years, and that's barely long enough for people to know who I am. I'm not important enough to do a story on me," he explains.
He also wants to make it clear the decision to leave was his own. He has no bad feelings about working at Channel 12, his dream job, or his helpful coworkers.
"I think the world of Local 12," he says.
And he's grateful to the viewers in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, where we prefer to get our news from one of our own: Rob Braun, Cammy Dierking, Steve Horstmeyer, Sheree Paolello, Tricia Macke, Kevin Robinson, Bob Herzog, George Vogel, Joe Danneman, Nick Clooney, Al Schottelkotte, Elise Jesse, John Gumm. You get the picture.
"For whatever notoriety I've gained in this market, I grateful," he says. "The people of Cincinnati have been very welcoming. They make me feel like I grew up here, and I don't take that lightly."