Vickie Burns Leaving NBC in LA

Journal-isms: KNBC's vice president for news was top manager in three cities.

Vickie Burns (Getty Images)
Vickie Burns (Getty Images)

KNBC’s VP for News Was Top Manager in Three Cities

Vickie Burns, who came to NBC’s Los Angeles station as vice president/news after holding vice president positions at NBC stations in New York and Los Angeles, is stepping down at KNBC and leaving NBC, she said Friday.

“Vickie is pursuing other opportunities — in and out of the company; her last day at the station, however, is today,” Terri Hernandez Rosales, vice president of communications and community affairs at KNBC, rebranded as “NBC4 Southern California,” told Journal-isms.

Burns wrote in a message distributed to staffers, “Now, it’s time for Steve to select a News Director to lead the next phase of growth for KNBC and time for me to get back east of the Mississippi,” a reference to Steve Carlston, who took over as KNBC president and general manager in October.

Carlston has been making bold changes since he arrived, as Gregory J. Wilcox of the Daily News of Los Angeles and Greg Braxton of the Los Angeles Times wrote in January.

“. . . for about the past year KNBC has occupied third place in the viewership ratings behind KCBS and segment leader KABC,” Wilcox wrote.

Kevin Roderick wrote Friday on LAObserved, “Burns only got to Channel 4 in [August] 2010, hailed when she arrived from New York as ‘a seasoned journalist who has extensive experience running a newsroom.‘ But then she moved around some anchors and reporters, tried going webby on the newscasts without much success and ticked off local Latino groups. When Valari Dobson Staab took over the NBC local stations she noted that KNBC had become ‘sloppy’ and also killed off Burns’ digital initiatives. Finally, the guy who hired Burns moved upstairs last year, and Steve Carlston took over as station general manager.”

James Rainey said in the Los Angeles Times, “Several employees have quietly complained about what they said was Burns’ sometimes-confrontational management style.”

Burns’ note was upbeat. “First, I discovered an amazing newsroom full of whip smart, quirky, creative people who had been tested by circumstances, many beyond control. That may have dampened the spirit for a time, but none of it dampened the will to succeed or the desire to excel.

“. . . Now, the cool stuff. We got bought by Comcast. Winning is the mission again, along with serving viewers better through enterprise reporting and distinctive storytelling. Not to mention the gift of unprecedented resources to accomplish competitive goals. I’ll never forget the single most common question from the early days: can we get the chopper back?