Shocker at WAVE – Langford Quits

WAVE GM Steve Langford quit Friday. PHOTO: WAVE-TV

That must have been some afternoon meeting. On Friday, WAVE-TV GM Steve Langford dropped a bombshell on the newsroom — he’s retiring, effective in a couple of weeks.

He’s been there a while (GM since 1998, originally joined the station in 1978), and has been responsible for some innovative programming at WAVE, from being the first in the market to upgrade and carry news online to the most recent launch of a 12:30 talk show, Live at 725. He bounds up the station’s front steps in the show’s opening. Langford’s Hot Button editorials have occasionally gotten the station attention, as Langford has never been shy about taking controversial or unpopular stances.

On the most recent editorial on the website March 3, he was critical of the city’s Landmarks Commission for its treatment of Genny’s Diner owner Frank Faris. On Feb. 21 he praised Mayor Greg Fischer for his handling of the Whiskey Row controversy. On Jan 31 he was critical of the C-J for its coverage of JCPS.

The surprise announcement comes as WAVE completes one of its worst ratings periods in station history, finishing a distant 3rd in every local news time period in which it competes with WHAS and WLKY. And the ratings for the Live at 725 have been disappointing, at best.

Langford has recently overseen major changes in on-air news personnel, primary due to the departures of veterans Tom Wills, John Belski, Jackie Hays and Bob Domine.

So Langford’s retiring at age 58, and says he will spend time traveling with his wife. I doubt he will miss the TV business.

Here’s the station’s announcement to the public:

The man who has led WAVE 3 for the past 13 years is leaving the corner office. Vice president and general manager Steve Langford announced his retirement to the staff during an afternoon meeting on March 4.

Langford, 58, who began his association with WAVE 3 as a sales representative in 1978, called his retirement “a hard decision,” but said “it is the right time.”

As for future plans, Langford said that he would be doing a lot traveling with wife, Melanie.

Before becoming general manager at WAVE, Langford served in the same capacity at WFIE in Evansville. Both stations are owned by Raycom Media of Montgomery, AL.

No announcement has been made about Langford’s replacement.

7 Comments on "Shocker at WAVE – Langford Quits"

  1. FRANK AYMAMI | March 7, 2011 at 8:58 am | Reply

    GOOD LUCK STEVE ARE YOU STILL IN THE PIZZA BUSINESS

  2. One of the really good guys in Louisville.

  3. Mickey Hempel | March 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Reply

    Hey Steve,
    The WAVE family and the Louisville market will miss you. They just don’t make “them” as good as the ol Cosmos group anymore.
    GOOD LUCK, come see us on your travels.

  4. Pretty obvious why WAVE’s ratings are dropping.

    Everyone watched WAVE for one reason and that was

    John Belski

    I’ve said it for a while that he was the backbone of WAVE 3 TV.

    BTW, get rid of that stupid 725 show.

  5. I hate when people say they are leaving to spend more time with their family. Just be honest. It is obvious WAVE’s ratings led to this decision. We know John Belski did not leave on good terms. Steve didn’t even show up to the farewell newscast for Belski as he had Jackie. That spoke volumes! I spoke with a lead anchor about John’s departure. This person, who I won’t name, basically said John left due to some issue–an issue this anchor would not say.

    Everyone says Jackie left on her own, but she is still young and only did the 5pm and 6pm newscasts, so she only worked part-time. It wasn’t a hard job, but she was great at delivering the news. I’m still wondering whether WAVE just could no longer afford Jackie’s salary. Jackie’s replacement, Janelle, is a nice person, but could not fill that void. And, people either love Dawn or they hate her. There isn’t much in between.

    I’m not sure what’s going on at WAVE. They are using photo-journalists as reporters. I’ve watched many newscasts where they don’t have a single live shot. To cover for that, they will have reporters phone-in reports. Hello, it isn’t radio. They brought back the very boring Eric Flack. Many will remember his Michael Moore investigation that lacked objectivity and just seemed to be a hit job. I mean, they sent him to Michigan to cover Michael Moore. Why? Scott Reynolds did a story on evolution vs creationism, which, again, lacked objectivity. It was obvious Scott was letting his very strong religious beliefs cloud his reporting.

    FOX 41 beat WAVE and everyone with True HD. WAVE had beat everyone with HD studio cameras, but that’s it. FOX has HD field reports, HD live trucks, HD commercials, etc. I would think with all the money WAVE saved from the salaries of Jackie, John, and Bob, they could afford to get in the game. In fairness, WLKY and WHAS don’t have any HD–they up-convert their picture to appear to be in HD..the news part that is. FOX delivers more news about the community. I cannot stand their GM, but he must be doing something right.

    I’m hoping whoever replaces Steve will get WAVE back on track. I would love to see John Belski return, but I just don’t see that happening. Even if he wanted to return, it would be awkward with Kevin now having that job. That is another issue. Kevin cannot fill the void left by John. Kevin is not natural. He seems very rehearsed. I actually think the new weather guy, Brian Goode, would be better as the Chief Meterologist. He is more folksie like John. I always wondered why John never had the offical title of Chief Meterologist, but Kevin does. Even after Tom left, who was chief, John never took on the title for some reason.

    As you can tell I think WAVE has gone totally down-hill. It is obvious John left on bad terms. I’m still suspicious about Jackie and Bob leaving. It just seemed so strange that all 3 would “retire” within a year’s time. And, John and Bob retiring at the same exact time. Something fishy. Steve’s departure was well overdue. You cannot run a news dept where you are using photo-journalists for a good portion of reporting. They need to bring in better talent. WAVE has a habit of bringing in very young people with no experience–people who they can pay on the cheap. This goes back years when one reporter was paid just $20,000/yr in the late 90’s. The news business is changing and the problem isn’t just at WAVE. We see reporters from all 3 stations leaving to work for local government and spokespersons for places like Churchill Downs and the now defunct, Six Flags. The news biz doesn’t pay much unless you were a Jackie Hays or John Belski. Jackie was making $200k in the 90’s, so I would only assume she was making much more when she left. Perhaps mid-market stations just cannot afford that anymore–especially in hard times.

    • Rick Redding | March 11, 2011 at 6:21 am | Reply

      Ted, We’ve got room for another media critic around here at LouisvilleKY.com. For the most part, I agree with you that WAVE has some significant problems, and the new guy has plenty of challenges ahead..

    • Its called Raycom. they are numbers people.Langford was forced to fire friends he had worked with for years. Dawn Gee got her job on acident. Langford saw her in the PR department and put her on Tv. Scott is pissed because they cut his pay a lot. He could make more working on the line at FORD. fuck he might be gone by now. Jackie never made 200,000. Louisville is the 52 biggest tv market. 200,000.That line alone makes you seem moronic.The GM is making that. Jackie was not making 200 in the early 90’s. lets think about that. In 91 My father took me the PGA championship.Daly won and made 236,000.. Raycom tied Langford hands and made him do things he did not want to do.If you know anything about him you would know about the framed purple koolaide he had on his desk. saying friends dont let friends drink the purple koolaide. He was loyal almost to a fault. Langford is a compeitive guy and does not like to lose. Wave 3 would be equal to the dodgers in baseball. To broke to compete.He also took the station over after Guy Himmple who wasnt the greatest Gm ever. nice guy but a numbers guy. Plus he invested most of his money coming up and took chances.He happen to do pretty well, and got out at the correct time. Why get grey hairs when you dont even need the check and your best players have been waived. Look into how dirty Ratcom I mean Raycam is.That the reason the left. all numbers guys that would stab anyone in the back to save there own ass. Im 100 percent sure he is spending time with his family.Feel free to email me back. I know the good WAVE 3 pre Gaycom… and the Langford’s better then you know the back of your little prick. Just love how one can write some hatefull stuff and know nothing about the station the topic or the person.Ted what have you done to change or effect the great state or we will say city..sure your a cards fan… think hard.. nothing… get off your frumpy ass and do somthing that is worth while. Then maybe a bunch of homo’s like yourself can get togther and type bad stuff about ya. GFYS…THE MAN THE MYTH THE LEGEND…. BBL

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