Veteran GM abruptly departs WTHR

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Long-time WTHR-TV Channel 13 General Manager Rich Pegram has left the station.

Yesterday was his last day, WTHR spokesman Jeff Dutton confirmed. Reasons for his departure were unclear. WTHR officials would not elaborate, and Pegram could not be reached for comment.

“It was a mutual decision between Rich and the company,” Dutton said.

Other sources close to WTHR said Pegram’s departure was sudden and unexpected.

Pegram had been WTHR’s general manager since 1994 and was widely credited for helping the station’s newscast and other local programming become a regional ratings leader.

“Under his leadership, the station has become one of the dominant stations in the country,” Dutton said.

WTHR program director Rod Porter has been named interim GM, and station officials have launched a nationwide search for a permanent replacement, Dutton said.

Some within the industry said WTHR officials have been looking to make cost-saving moves, something Dutton denied.

WTHR continues to invest in high-definition equipment and plans to send a considerable contingency to Beijing to cover the Summer Olympics next August, he said.

“We’re adjusting to the economy, but there are no major cost-cutting initiatives happening,” Dutton said.

The station made a big investment last summer in high-definition studio equipment, and added HD field cameras last month. Within the next month, WTHR intends to upgrade equipment to allow the station to air HD commercials and other fare.

WTHR is owned by Columbus, Ohio-based Dispatch Co., which also owns The Columbus Dispatch newspaper and Columbus TV station WBNS.

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