Seattle broadcast icon Ken Schram is used to giving his “Schrammie” awards for “bone-headed decisions and/or the most appalling of asinine behavior.” He might want to give his last one to KOMO, which announced this week it was buying out his contract after a storied 35-year career on KOMO TV and Radio.
While it’s little surprise whenever someone gets the boot in the broadcast business, the veteran journalist told KIRO Radio’s Ross and Burbank Show he’s pretty disappointed it was handled “very coldly”.
“I actually got official notification through my agent and have yet to hear anything from corporate here at all. Not a single word,” said Schram.
He first joined KOMO 4 News back in 1977 and for decades built a reputation as one of Seattle’s most dogged and caustic political reporters and commentators. He’d been doing an afternoon talk show on KOMO Radio until September, and had continued doing his popular Schrammies and other reports for the TV station. But even though his contract runs through December 2013, he said the station bought it out.
Schram said he did have some inkling that change was afoot.
“It was passed through the grapevine, but got unofficial word it might be coming down,” he said.
Schram said they didn’t give his agent a reason, but he’s heard rumblings the station wanted to go younger and cut back on full time employees. His boss, KOMO TV news director and VP of News, Holly Gauntt, told The Seattle Times he possibly could be brought back on a part time basis if he was willing. But Schram doesn’t seem very interested.
As he looks back over three-plus decades of covering news, the self-avowed political junkie lamented how much the business has changed since he started.
“I think too much time is given over to house fires where no one’s injured and kind of the easy to cover, get out there and get some film, get some quotes. I lament the lack of political insight and coverage that we used to have. I don’t think anybody has crews down in Olympia covering the Legislature anymore when they’re in session. It’s catch as catch can.”
While some say the stuff that excited Schram is boring, he challenges the news business to do better.
“I think it’s our job to make it not boring. I think it’s our job to make it relevant. To put it in the context where people see the importance of what’s going on around them.”
Schram will deliver his last commentary next Tuesday, then spend the holidays focusing on family before considering his next steps. He hopes his departure doesn’t signal a further diminishment of everything he stood for.
“I used to jokingly tell people that I entered this medium as a journalist and my greatest fear is that I would exit as a TV reporter,” he said.