Sportscaster Out For Wishing Departing Colleagues Well

Sports Anchor Fired for Saying 'Goodbye'
Joe Swift, a 20-year veteran with North Platte, Nebraska's KNOP-TV, was fired last week for wishing two departing colleagues well while he was on-air, according to the North Platte Bulletin. The two other employees had resigned in the midst of restructuring under the station's new owner and management allegedly objected that Swift's comments could be taken as suggesting the others had been forced out.

According to the Bulletin, Swift hadn't mentioned the circumstances of their departure. He had worked with morning news anchor Tara Moore for 18 years and with production manager Dennis McConnell for 20, according to the North Platte Telegraph.

"I was never told I couldn't say goodbye to them," Swift said. "We've been bidding farewell to outgoing employees and wishing them luck in their new endeavors as long as I can remember. We said goodbye to a cameramen who had only been there a month. It was just something we did."

As the station's bio of Swift said before it was apparently removed from the KNOP website, Swift "has had lunch with Jack Nicklaus, got a hug from Michael Jordan and done stories on a World Champion bull rider." He covered two Super Bowls and a dozen bowl games the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers competed in.

KNOP had been purchased by Gray Television of Atlanta in June. About a month later, he told the Telegraph that he learned his position could be in trouble. The new news director reportedly told Swift that he was not a match for the audience and that he would no longer be sports director.

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"I didn't know what to say," he told the Telegraph. "I was stunned." Swift claims that news director Stephanie Hedrick fired him over a Skype Internet connection. "They fired me over the Internet on my wife's birthday," Swift told the Telegraph. "I got to call her and say, 'Happy birthday. I'm fired.'"

Swift described the experience under the station's previous owners as being like part of a family, one that he would miss. Once news of his dismissal began making the rounds, job offers began rolling in. He had four the day after being fired and a large number of phone calls and emails of support.

Although Swift said that he hasn't made a decision what he will do next, he has decided to leave the broadcasting field and wants to stay in North Platte.

KNOP had not answered an AOL Jobs request for comments before publication.

Update 10/21/2014 4:15pm: KNOP News Director Stephanie Hedrick sent AOL Jobs the following statement:

We have been asked to explain why Joe Swift is no longer working for KNOP-TV. Out of respect for Mr. Swift, his family, and all of our employees, we do not discuss personnel matters publicly. However, we must strongly disagree with the characterization of his departure that has been attributed to Mr. Swift in a local press account as it does not accurately reflect the facts surrounding his departure.

We appreciate Joe's service to KNOP and the North Platte Community and wish him the best.

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