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