Back to IndieWire

Why Was Sue Simmons Dropped From WNBC?

Why Was Sue Simmons Dropped From WNBC?

I don’t live in New York and never have, but even I’ve always known about Sue Simmons. When is comes to local new anchors, she’s a genuine legend and a real survivor in the cutthorat, take-no-prisoners world of television. Simmons is the nighttime news anchor for NBC’s flagship O & O station WNBC and has been for that last 32 years and is the highest paid local news anchor in the country making $5 million a year.

Or make that was the highest paid anchor since, earlier this week, the station refused to renew her contact which expires in June, which means Simmons will be off the air for good. That is unless another station makes an offer, which, at this point, is unlikely, and not at that salary.

However Chuck Scarborough, Simmons’ long time co-anchor, who at 68 is the same age as Simmons, will stay with the station. So how come he gets to stay, but Simmons is getting the heave-ho? Looks like a clear cut case of racism, sexism and ageism.

Or is it?

According to reports, there were several factors involved in the station refusing to renew Simmons’ contract. The main reason giving is that station execs felt she had gotten obivously bored with the job and that lack of enthusiasm caused her to “phone it in” during newscasts. They felt that her work was getting sloppy, like in that notorious 2008 incident when she let the “F bomb” slip during a newcast, though she quickly apologized fior it (see below). And unlike Scarborough, who would rigorously prepare for every newscast, Simmons was more lackdaisical, basically “winging it” as she went along.

There were also reports that Simmons was fond of drinking before newscasts which perhaps accounted for her somewhat odd behavoir at times during newscasts. And the station was not pleased that Simmons refused to make public appearances to promote the newscast and the station, which was something that Scarborough regularly did.

In fact, the station had been, for some time, planning an exit for Simmons, and as far back as 2008 offered her a buyout deal. But she refused. However it was revealed that as recently as a year ago, Simmons knew that her contact would not be renewed and was privately telling friends that this would be her final year at the station.

It was also reported that NBC’s new owners Comcast weren’t happy at all with Simmons’ antics and, always looking for ways to cut costs at the network, cutting her loose was an easy way to save several million.

Of course NBC has released an official statement stating that everything is hunky dory with them and Simmons: “We have tremendous respect and admiration for Sue Simmons. For decades, Sue has been a critical part of New York’s longest-tenured anchor team in the city and has more than earned her iconic status,”

So what do you say? You believe the network or was Simmons given a raw deal?

Here’s the notorous F bomb incident

This Article is related to: Television



I have loved watching Sue Simmons for all of the years she has been on NBC. She definitely added a lot of the nice humorous and personal touches to the broadcast. Brought out the best in Chuck, who at times was a little stiff and mannequin like.. She was very professional, read beautifully and I always enjoyed her. Maybe things got a little sloppy.. Dropping the f bomb on the air was certainly not cool.. But I think Sue should have been the one to decide to leave, on her own terms and because she was ready. After 32 years, I think she should have been shown more respect. Sue's sense of humor and ease was always refreshing, and I will miss her. I wish her luck in whatever she decides to do. Thanks for the great years Sue!



Mekisha Hale

It's interesting to hear about anchor of New York's NBC's station WNBC "Sue Simmons" was let go. And probably will be let go since this is becoming a known fact besides this article. There has been some very unusual situations in news business lately. A since that they don't want African American or Hispanic News Anchor's on air. I can't think of any other time where there hasn't been any or no negotiation with contracts with minority broadcasters. Meaning either the networks wouldn't pick up the contract or give the broadcasters an long extended contract for renewal. But without that usually the outcome is they or the network couldn't pick up the extended renewal of the contract and is let go from the network. It's seems that with reading this article this is becoming an every news story. It's interesting that the other guy on the network stayed and probably got the extension for his contract,but no negotiating for broadcaster 'Sue Simmons' interesting how that worked out. You know that's a shame too. Great voices out who just happened to be African American or Hispanic are being dismissed completely in the news business. Specially in the broadcasting department. Yes there have been some groundbreaking moves in the news business,but now it has become like the diversity that was displayed just in the past 20 years or even more has now seems like several steps back then forward.


I grew up watching Sue & Chuck on Live @ Five but for me, Sue gave the broadcasts that extra 'oomph', she was genuine and engaging. I haven't been watching the 11 o'clock news for awhile (trying to get more sleep as I get older) but I can't imagine her 'phoning it in'. Even in the midst of spontaneity, she seemed prepared and knowledgeable to me. And the in-studio guests, especially the ones who had been interviewed by her previously, always appeared to enjoy their in studio appearances with her. I remember on one occasion, she was interviewing an actor and even recalled the last time he was in studio and what they talked about– fairly sharp to me.
I don't know what goes on behind the scenes so I can't rightfully comment but I do remember a few years back a survey taken where some respondents claimed that they'd have a hard time watching a female anchor who had gray hair but thought it was no problem if the anchor were a man. And Sue looks younger than her years.
In terms of salary, I wonder what Chuck makes? None of the articles I read mention his salary.
Even though I don't watch the 11 o'clock news, the very idea of her not being at the anchor desk saddens me a bit.
Sue Simmons was a true NYC original–got the job done, had personality to spare but didn't have time for no mess!


Aww man, I like her. If any of those rumors are true, it certainly doesn't come across on the air. Bill Beutel was an anchor for 37 years and didn't leave his chair at WABC until it was clear he was ailing and slurring words on the air. My conclusion: Sue 'em, Sue.


32 years is a good long run, anyway you cut it.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *