This billboard “snafu” got WPMI General Manager Shea Grandquest and News Director Wes Finley suspended.
WPMI-TV insiders have confirmed what has been a swirling rumor for the past day — that the station’s general manager and news director were suspended for a week because of an embarrassing billboard.
General Manager Shea Grandquest and News Director Wes Finley have been suspended, allegedly because of a “snafu” with one of the electronic billboards in town that showed a picture of anchors Greg Peterson and Kym Thurman and Chief Meteorologist Derek Beasley alongside the headline “3 Accused of Gang Rape in Monroeville.” The headline was under the header “Right Now on Twitter,” and clearly was aimed at promoting the station’s breaking news, but a photo of it has made its way to e-mails all over town and brought plenty of laughs.
According to several media-watching sites, Grandquest and Finley were suspended without pay, but Lagniappe has been unable to verify that. The station’s corporate headquarters for Newport Television did not have any comment, as Vice President Charlie Henrick, who handles WPMI, was out of the office until Monday and the person answering the phone could not find his cell phone number to reach him for a possible interview.
Locally, calls to WPMI also met with similar results, as the person who answered the phone said both Grandquest and Finley were off for a week and there was no one in authority at the station. She said Grandquest is the only person authorized to speak with the media.
According to an inside source, an e-mail was sent out informing the staff of the suspension. It’s not clear if it explained why such harsh punishment was taken for what appears to be a simple mistake.
WPMI-TV is the area’s NBC affiliate and they have recently rebranded their news product as “Local 15.”