The auditorium at Geneseo Central School is half round, with the stage looked down upon by a large semi-circle of comfortable seats. I’ve watched plays in that auditorium, and my daughters’ dance recitals. And waited between acts or for costume changes outside, in a large, open meeting of corridors, where the curved back wall of the auditorium is the dominant architectural feature.
That is where they hang the plaques for the Hall of Fame.
A picture and a name and a few words about local kids who once walked those halls and went out to conquer the world, to make a difference that makes the town proud and tells rising generations that they can soar and achieve.
That’s where you can find a picture of Rebecca Leclair.
And her dad, and maybe her aunt, and an astronaut and some soldiers and some other folks.
People from around here who did good and left things better than they found them.
Rebecca Leclair hangs there, with the information about her four varsity letters and her charitable work and her career in television news.
The charitable work was something else. In a gown MCing some gala or hosting the Jerry Lewis Telethon, she was gracious and glib, and always smiling and positive. A light-up-the-room kind of person, hanging out at the mall in recent years collecting toys for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have any.
And the television career was something else. Great in the field or on the desk, intelligent and fair, she always got it right and she always told it right, and the sources and the viewers trusted her and loved her.
But that’s over now. Or at least it will be in a week or so.
Channel 10, in a cascading crescendo of incompetence and malevolence, is firing her, too.
“It’s a blood bath over here,” one reporter said. “Please tell me if you hear I’m about to get the ax.”
“The place is run like a dictatorship,” another reporter said, “and the far majority of employees walk in that building with a sense of fear every day. It’s a newsroom filled with wonderful people, and it is a shame how they are treated.
“It is an unhealthy environment, and I wish more than anything that the man responsible for it was brought down – but he won’t be.
“He has pushed out legends, and forced others into early retirement because they just don’t (want) to deal with his crap anymore.”
Who is the man responsible?
“The problems at News10 start with the GM,” said a former employee. “Derek Dalton is the man in charge who has driven away so many loyal employees.
“During my … three years at WHEC, I worked for four different news directors. Two of them were fired and one quit. None of them could work (or) get along with Dalton. Instead of having faith in the employees to do the work they’re hired for, Dalton micromanages every department.
“There’s a reason he’s been sent packing in destination markets like San Diego and Denver.
“He’s not capable of the job.”
But he seems intent on ending the careers of those who are.
At least that how it seems. There has been a hemorrhage of talent from Channel 10, and this week he gave two of the station’s marque personalities their walking papers.
Not because they were tired or worn, or because they were off their game, or because they were anything other than the very best in the market. But to satisfy some cost saving or to demonstrate his power or to further humiliate and terrify the good people who pull into the employee lot every morning.
Or maybe he knows he never really got it right, and he wants revenge on those who did.
I’m not sure if, at his high school, his picture hangs on the wall.
And I’m not sure if this continues that there will be much left of this Hubbard Broadcasting property. The stories the reporters tell, the stories the ad salespeople tell, sound like the Titanic about the time they started playing “Nearer My God To Thee.” This is an operation convulsing in dysfunction, and these traitorous firings are only the latest outward sign.
If some third-rate radio guy across the street knows about it, it must be a hell of a mess.
And it’s a mess that needs to be cleaned up.
Rochester needs Channel 10 to be what it has been in the past – a dependable friend.
And Hubbard needs Channel 10 to be what it has been in the past – a lucrative investment.
Both those things are endangered by the status quo. It will fall to senior management at Hubbard Broadcasting to fix this problem, or to be responsible for failing the community, the audience and the ownership.
In two days they fired Kevin Williams and Rebecca Leclair.
And apparently have no idea whatsoever how despicable and self-destructive that is.