By Alan Pergament
Channel 4 General Manager Chris Musial, who rose from intern to news director to running the station for almost 10 years in a 35-year career at the CBS affiliate, announced to the staff today that he is retiring from the station at the end of the month, according to multiple sources.
Musial, who is believed to be 55, is a widower with five children. According to staffers, he told members of his staff that he was retiring to spend more time with his family.
He could not be reached for comment after repeated telephone calls over the last few days.
It is unclear if Musial -- who started working at Channel 4 while he was in college -- was forced out or if the the decision to leave the station was his and was made easier because the value of the stock of Channel 4's owner, LIN Media, has tripled in the last six months.
There certainly are reasons for staffers to wonder if he was forced out of a high-paying job. While Channel 4 news was No.1 for the majority of his time as GM, the station has arguably lost the news lead to Channel 2 recently. Additionally, LIN Media sent people here last September to conduct focus groups on why staffers at the local CBS affiliate were among the unhappiest at all of LIN's stations.
LIN hasn't named a replacement for Musial, who was promoted to GM after being news director. His departure is certain to prompt speculation about the future of News Director Joe Schlaerth, who reportedly was heavily criticized in the September focus groups. In addition, new GMs often like to hire their own news directors.
In the last few years under Musial and Schlaerth, Channel 4 has replaced several news veterans with younger, cheaper reporters, which is one of the reasons blamed for its losing news leadership to Channel 2.