Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sports anchor fired for helping military families

From the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi:

Rick Whitlow, sports director for WJTV-Channel 12, said he was fired from the Jackson TV station Monday after he refused to work an unscheduled weekend.

Whitlow said Monday that he had told station officials he would not be able to work unscheduled weekends so he could devote time to military-family support groups following the deployment of his son, Army Pvt. Eric Whitlow, 23, to Iraq in August.

"I made it very clear that I have to schedule the weekends I work because the families who have sons and daughters serving overseas often meet with each other then for support," Whitlow said. "I had already arranged to meet with military families this past weekend in New Orleans.

"The station told me to come to work this weekend. I didn't. They took that as insubordination, and they fired me."

As of Monday evening, station officials, including the general manager and news director, could not be reached for comment. No one returned calls seeking comment. On Monday, Whitlow's photo and bio no longer appeared on the station's Web site.

"They basically put me in the position of choosing between them and my family," Whitlow said.

"When you have a child in Iraq trying to avoid roadside bombs, you have to plant your feet and make a stand.

"I would do the same thing 100 times over."

Whitlow returned to the CBS affiliate as sports director in May 2006 after making a run for the Jackson mayor's office the previous year.

He was defeated in the general election by Frank Melton, who then hired him to the mayor's staff, a position Whitlow held until returning to WJTV.

Whitlow had worked at WJTV from 1985-94 and at WAPT-Channel 16 from 1995-2003.

In 2003, he became executive director of the newly formed Metro Jackson Safe City Watch, a citizens' crime watchdog group.

On Monday, Whitlow said he isn't sure what his plans are for now.


liberal army wife said...

well, that stinks! sorry, but it just sucks massively.


Infantry Dad said...

If this is true, that he was "fired for taking the weekend off to be with families of deployed soldiers," and there aren't extenuating circumstances, then I would be willing to chip in to run an ad in the local newspaper calling to light the radio station's action.
Being a business manager, I am a bit skeptical..
Often times people who are terminated try to cover up the real reasons.
My policy is family first...
Just so you know.