WBFF-TV has fired its general manager, Bruce Lumpkin, less than three weeks after launching the nightly news program he helped create -- Channel 45's "News at 10."
Citing "philosophical differences," station president David Smith said he relieved Mr. Lumpkin of his duties on June 14, but would not comment further.
"I'm not interested in saying any more because anything I say is going to be twisted around," Mr. Smith said yesterday.
Mr. Lumpkin, 46, said he was "blindsided" by Mr. Smith's actions and said he could think of no philosophical differences more substantial than who should receive business cards at the station.
"I thought we were going into a meeting [last Friday] to discuss the Kids Club," he said, referring to the station's promotional program for young viewers.
Mr. Lumpkin said he found the firing even more surprising given the successful debut of the news program, an idea which he said he had pushed for years. "Everything about the news was from my plan," he said.
Mark Pimentel, news director at the station, said he was troubled by the timing of the firing. The station hopes to have a new general manager within the next few months, and Mr. Pimentel predicted that the firing would not affect the "News at 10."
He would shed no light on the nature of the disagreements which led to the action, but said that Mr. Lumpkin and Mr. Smith "definitely differed in a couple of aspects of how to proceed."
But Mr. Pimentel said that Mr. Lumpkin was "a first-class person" and confirmed that he was instrumental in creating the news show. "Without Bruce, I wouldn't be sitting here today, and there wouldn't be a news product," Mr. Pimentel said.
Mr. Lumpkin began as a salesman for Channel 45 even before it went on the air in 1971, and with the exception of a four-year stint in Seattle during the mid-1980s, had been with the station ever since.
He said he anticipated landing an equal or better job at another station in the near future. Though he has received no concrete offers yet, Mr. Lumpkin said he is arranging for interviews around