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Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 10:21 AM

KOMO buying out Ken Schram's contract; last TV commentary is Monday

By Erik Lacitis
Seattle Times staff reporter

Although Ken Schram's Facebook page was lighting up with messages from fans — over 500 by 5 Wednesday afternoon — expressing their disappointment and anger that his commentary position at KOMO 4 News had been eliminated, there is a possibility he might return.

But Schram would have to be willing to become a part-timer, says Holly Gauntt, vice president of News-Fisher Communications and KOMO-TV news director.

Schram isn't exactly jumping at the opportunity to become what he says is basically a freelancer after his 35-year career there.

"I've got to digest everything that is going on," he says. "I'm not making any decisions until after Christmas. I've got an agent looking into other possibilities."

Schram had been doing an afternoon talk show on KOMO Radio, but the station ended talk shows in September and went strictly 24/7 news, weather and traffic.

Gauntt says Schram was a radio-station employee, although he had agreed to do his popular "Schrammies" and commentaries for the TV side.

Schram says his contract had been through December 2013, and is now being bought out.

Format changes and sudden dismissals are nothing surprising to those in the industry.

"I'm sorely disappointed in the manner all this was dealt with. It's kind of like saying, 'You're under contract for next year, but we don't want you around,' " Schram says.

He says that some three weeks ago, "somebody whispered in my ear that this was going to happen," but he didn't see any point in divulging it that early.

His last "Schrammie" — in which he made an award for "the worst of bone-headed decision(s), and/or the most appalling of asinine behavior" — was on Wednesday. His last TV commentary will be Monday.

Schram says he can only guess as to why his career at KOMO is over after working in positions ranging from general assignment reporter, editorial writer and host of the public-affairs show, "Town Meeting."

"I've heard they're looking at reducing the number of full-time employees they carry on the books," he says.

Gauntt says no layoffs are planned.

And, perhaps, says Schram, "I don't fit into the picture" of the future of TV news.

On Schram's Facebook page, the emotional messages included ones such as, "I am SO SORRY to hear that KOMO is losing a second wonderful person. First Kathi Goertzen to the Angels, and now you, and this is just very sad. All of the quality programming that I have grown up is going out the door! Next we will be hearing that Steve Pool made ONE mistake on a weather report, and they will let HIM go too! Geez."

But Schram, who turns 65 on Dec. 17, also had nothing but praise for the station.

"I've had an awesome career. KOMO gave me a lot of latitude. They just decided it was time," he says.

In a note to the staff, Gauntt wrote about Schram, "I for one will miss Ken immensely."

News researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed. Erik Lacitis: 206-464-2237 or elacitis@seattletimes.com



Ken Schram, KOMO-TV commentator




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