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Dave Price, the soon-to-be-ousted weatherman on CBS’ Early Show, called the network’s decision to completely overhaul the third-place morning show “jarring” on a personal level.
“Any time you get news like this it’s jarring. It’s part of the business. It’s a cruel businesses,” he said. “But we love it anyway. And so its throws you back a bit, maybe even more than a bit.”
“Don’t cry for me,” he added. “I’ll be fine. I’ve had my dream job for eight years.”
Sean McManus, president of CBS News and CBS Sports, has said that Price and Maggie Rodriguez will be offered new roles at CBS News. Harry Smith will become the permanent fill-in anchor on the CBS Evening News, Face the Nation and Sunday Morning.
They’ll be replaced by Chris Wragge and Erica Hill as co-hosts, Jeff Glor as news reader and Marysol Castro as weather anchor.
Price said he’ll consider proposals from CBS News, but there are no guarantees he’ll stay with the network.
“I’m going to see if any of [those proposals] are right for me,” he said. “If they’re not, I’ll make a graceful exit.”
Price has been at CBS News since 2003, joining the network from WCBS-TV. He’s covered major environmental disasters including the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina. He didn’t get into the TV news business until he was nearly 30 years old and after a decade in corporate human resources. He’s dabbled in amateur stand-up comedy and has spent the last several holiday seasons in Iraq or Afghanistan with a comedy troupe entertaining U.S. service personnel there.
Said one CBS News executive: “This is a guy who loves people and it showed. His reporting had a lot of heart.”
The Early Show has languished in third behind NBC’s dominant Today and ABC’s Good Morning America. The show has endured multiple executive producer and anchor changes in recent years, including a four-anchor set-up. Current executive producer David Friedman, who came to Early from NBC’s Last Call With Carson Daly, has been there 11 months.
Last season (September 2009-September 2010), Early Show attracted its smallest average audience in nearly 10 years, averaging 2.5 million viewers.
And while Price says he understands that TV news is very much a results-oriented business, he was nevertheless caught off guard when McManus informed him that a new Early Show team would be in place by Jan. 3.
“Was I surprised? Yeah. I had just come back from a seven-day trip from Alaska for a week-long sweeps piece,” he said. “But I don’t know many people who lose their job who aren’t surprised by it. So I don’t think that’s extraordinary. But yeah, it’s jolting.”
He added that as a well-paid television anchor, he has a lot less to complain about than many recession-battered Americans. But news of his fate has also produced an outpouring of well wishes from viewers and random strangers. People stop him on the street: “I’m so sad. Where are you going? What are you going to do? Why,” they ask.
“And I’ve been taking advantage of it,” laughed Price. “I’ve had several free lunches over the last two days and I got a donut from a street vendor for nothing. Now that I’m leaving the outpouring of kindness is heartwarming. It’s like being at your own Shiva,” he added, referring to the weeklong period of mourning observed in the Jewish religion. “But the only downside is you realize that you’re still dead.”
He’s also heard from friends in and out of the TV news business who try to cheer him up by telling him now he’ll finally be able to sleep in and relax.
“For the record,” he says, “I have no desire to sleep in, and I have no desire to relax. I’m ready to jump back in.”
But if the TV thing doesn’t work out, he said: “I already have other plans. I’m doing landscaping at Al Roker’s house.”
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