KTLA news anchor Mark Mester was booted from the outlet Thursday after broadcasting an emotional and apparently off-book farewell to colleague Lynette Romero. The Los Angeles Times reports that Mester went rogue on Saturday’s broadcast, with a four-minute tirade about the show’s handling of Romero’s exit and an apology to his former colleague for what he saw as the company’s slight.
Romero had been with the station for over two decades but a source tells the paper she wanted to stop working weekends and had asked management to give her a weekday anchor shift so she could spend more time with her family, but she was told there were no openings. She subsequently took a job with KNBC-TV as a weekday morning anchor.
Last Wednesday, her departure was announced briefly in a prepared statement from news director Pete Saiers, read on-air by entertainment reporter Sam Rubin in a segment that lasted less than a minute. “After nearly 24 years, Lynette Romero, our friend Lynette, has decided to move on from anchoring our weekend morning news,” he said. “KTLA management had hoped she would stay here her entire career, and KTLA worked hard to make that happen. But Lynette has decided to move to another opportunity elsewhere. Lynette, we wish you luck, we miss you and we thank you for everything you’ve done for KTLA… On behalf of everyone here, we wish you and your family nothing but the best.”
On Saturday, Mester, Romero’s co-anchor until last week, told viewers the handling of the news of Romero’s departure had been “rude, it was cruel, it was inappropriate and we are so sorry.” Mester referred to Romero as his best friend, and reportedly hired an airplane to fly over the studio with a banner reading “We love you Lynette,” though he reportedly was not given permission to air the gesture.
Speaking directly to Romero, Mester said, “You did not deserve this, it was a mistake, and we hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us.”
Earlier that day, Mester had told his social media followers he’d be addressing the incident.
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On Thursday, KTLA made an announcement in its newsroom that Mester had been fired. General manager Janene Drafs told staffers that “[Mester] is no longer at KTLA5,” according to those who were present.
Plenty of viewers took to social media to express their outrage.
Shame on @KTLA! The way u handled @LynetteRomero's abrupt departure & now @mester_mark's firing does NOT sit well with us longtime viewers. Mester called you out for ur shadiness & you retaliate by firing. Thought news was truthful.https://t.co/i6jcroBhIJ
— Ben Lopez (@LopezBen76) September 23, 2022
Wait a fucking minute..@ktla suspended @mester_mark?!?! Y’all can fuck all the way off for how you treated Lynette & her departure. Mark was 100% in the right. It’s like you guys are begging to lose all your viewers with this kind of behavior.
— Rox (@RoxsRants) September 20, 2022
@KTLA Guess what? Because you fired Mark Mester, you have lost two long time loyal viewers since the morning news program started in the early 90’s. Mark was only standing up for Lynette. Obviously, you don’t care for long time employees. Good bye. I know your ratings will drop.
— John (@Only1JohnnyO) September 23, 2022
But insiders tell the Times that viewers don’t know the entirety of the situation, including that Mester is known to be volatile.
“Several sources at the station said it was common knowledge that staffers were concerned about Mester’s temper and what was described as his ‘disrespectful’ behavior to women and had complained to management.” LAT also quotes one veteran staffer who pained Mester as a loose cannon. “You would not believe the temper tantrums and the weird things that set him off. You’re constantly afraid you’re going to say the wrong thing.”
For her part, Romero tweeted a sunny farewell message to viewers on Wednesday following the station’s brief mention of her departure—but also retweeted one viewer’s reaction.
I will always be grateful for the love and affection LA viewers have given me. Stay tuned my friends I’ll be right back.🌻 https://t.co/H6BcRuR8VJ
— Lynette Romero (@LynetteRomero) September 15, 2022
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