On the heels of the launch of the most ambitious programming effort in the history of Channel 45 (WBFF) -- its 10 o'clock news program -- Bruce Lumpkin has been relieved of his duties as the station's general manager.
The action clearly shocked many of the station's employees. Lumpkin, an original employee of WBFF when it went on the air jTC in 1971, has been general manager for the last four years, overseeing the station's construction of a new antenna, its ongoing move into a new building, the news launch and the affiliation with the Fox network.
"It was nothing personal, it was purely philosophical differences," said David Smith, president of the station. "I think the world of Bruce and will do anything I can to help him move on to bigger and better things, which I'm sure he will.
"We just had some differences about the way the business should be conducted and decided that it was time now to make the change before we moved into the new building. It's a different business than it was four years ago, and we've got to position ourselves to move to the next level."
Smith, one of four sons of the station's founder, Julian Smith, who control Channel 45, said he sympathized with Lumpkin's position.
"It's hard working with the owners of the place in the next office, always looking over your shoulder," he said, indicating that any differences are going to be exaggerated in those circumstances.
Smith, who refused to go into details of the disagreements he had with Lumpkin, said that he expected to have a new general manager in place in a couple of months. Lumpkin was relieved of his duties last Friday.
Lumpkin, who left WBFF in 1982 and managed a station in Seattle before returning in 1987, could not be reached for comment.