WCCO-TV anchor Jeanette Trompeter apologized for crying Monday during our interview, minutes after she was shown the door, another victim of the terrible economy.
"I feel like a wimp," she told me. "In this economy you're stupid if you're on TV and you don't know it's a possibility. All I've ever asked for was give me a head start to go look for something else. I didn't think I'd have to leave 10 minutes after. I thought I'd be doing the 5 o'clock news tonight even [after being told she was being terminated]. They said, No, you're no longer an employee."
Sounds kind of brutal. Why'd they do it that way? "I don't know," said Trompeter.
The bosses are behaving in a very strange way considering that this is not a performance-related departure. "They did say that. They said it was absolutely not [performance-related]. They said, You're a great employee and this has nothing to do with that. It's a purely financial decision. I just got a great [job] review about three weeks ago."
Everybody in media, like many other professions, is feeling vulnerable. "I know, I have for a while," she said. "That's why I've had conversations and was pretty confident I'd be given a little head start. I wasn't going to make it ugly. I just wanted a little fair treatment. I feel like I'm a pretty loyal employee. They were not mean by any means."
At a meeting with WCCO-TV officials, including GM Susan Adams Loyd, Trompeter said, "I asked how long they knew and they said Friday, and I said, 'Why didn't you tell me Friday, then?' and they said because the didn't want to ruin my weekend. I said, 'How about giving me a chance to get settled to do the news? I've got to do the news tonight.'"
That's when Trompeter was told she wouldn't be doing the news today. "That's when it kind of hit me. I got what was really going on," said Trompeter. "You can think it through and think what it will be like, but I'm telling you, you don't know what it feels like until it's happening."
"Right now I'm in a state of shock trying to figure out what my options are," said Trompeter, who had not yet talked to her agent. She said the only people she'd talked to when I called were her significant other, her good friend Karen Leigh, who now works in Denver, and me.
While Trompeter cried and sniffled throughout our conversation, the GM known as SAL was slightly more composed, although she sounded as if she too had been crying. It was obvious, even over the phone, that having to let Trompeter go was emotional for Loyd.
"Like so many businesses, we're trying to adjust to these uncertain times," said Loyd. "The future's going to require a different architecture. I'm sure that you know this is a personnel matter, so I can't talk about it except to say it's a very sad day for all of us."
Dennis Douda, a co-anchor to Trompeter until he got moved to weekends, told me, "She is so loved in the newsroom and such a personality. It must have been an agonizing decision for managers. I feel terrible for my friend, Jeanette. I know a lot of people in the station are just amazed that the economic conditions would put her in the line of fire. "
Insiders are sure this cut was dictated by the corporate office.
Trompeter's boyfriend, Coldwell Banker Burnet Realtor David Azbill, thought her dog had died when he first heard from her. When he saw the dog was fine, Azbill had a hunch what was going on.
The only time Trompeter stopped crying enough to laugh was when I said: Maybe now would be a good time for Azbill to pop the question? I'm just spit-balling here.
"I'll pass it on," she continued laughing.
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