RIFFED! WLOS anchor Larry Blunt abruptly let go from Asheville TV news station

Larry Blunt, one of WLOS-TV Channel 13’s main anchors since 2005, was abruptly laid off on Wednesday, according to numerous sources. He was called into his manager’s office following a video shoot and unceremoniously told that his position had been eliminated, according to reports.

Blunt has been a sober, down-home television news reader and reporter since arriving in Asheville from KCNC-TV in Denver, where he worked as a reporter and anchor. He anchors the prime time local news at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. alongside stalwart Darcel Grimes. He’s also known for his “Person of the Week” pieces, those honest, feel-g00d profiles about local do-gooders.

Prior to coming to Asheville, Blunt worked for a television new station in Greenville, S.C. He’s won numerous awards, including Emmy’s, for his work.

In a Wednesday Facebook post, Blunt wrote, “Today I was told my position has been eliminated at WLOS and that Sinclair Broadcasting is doing so at all of it’s stations. I was assured I had done nothing wrong.” He promised his fans that, “I won’t lose you.”

Blunt’s wife, Jan, a public relations specialist who worked as spokeswoman of Buncombe County Schools for five years, wrote in a Facebook post that her husband was summoned after videoing his latest “Person of the Week” feature. The reduction in force was vaguely explained, she said, while asking for “thoughts and prayers” from viewers.

Grimes, who has been absent from the anchor desk of late, has apparently been battling a health issue. The beloved anchorwoman is heading into her 36th year on the air with WLOS.

Blunt’s anchor leaves a significant hole in a key spot as WLOS heads into its annual “sweeps” period of ratings measurements. More as I get it.

WLOS, an ABC-affiliated station owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group, is one of the largest TV stations in the country. The station is ranked in the top 40 of the nation’s largest television markets (with the market described as Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., and Asheville), with more than 845,000 households with televisions that can get the station.

Here’s Larry’s full FB post:

When I last posted a message to you it was goodbye to 2016. Now, less than a week in 2017 it’s just, goodbye, at least for now. Today I was told my position has been eliminated at WLOS and that Sinclair Broadcasting is doing so at all of it’s stations. I was assured I had done nothing wrong. Jan and I have some thinking, planning and praying to do. I have people at Ch. 13 that I love and that will never change. I won’t lose you. And for so many of you in the community that I’ve had the privilege to meet, get to know, share your story and to be touched by your life, you have made my life better. — Larry

Here’s Jan’s full FB post:

So there’s this. After returning from a video shoot for his “Person of the Week” series today, Larry was called into the General Manager’s office and told that Sinclair Broadcasting has “eliminated his position.” He was told the company’s stations are also eliminating positions, though he wasn’t told how many, or which positions. An email went out to all station staff this afternoon wishing Larry the best, so between that and the lack of his presence on-air, the news will travel fast. We’re okay, still in shock, and will have a lot of decisions to make pretty quickly. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

Here’s more about Larry Blunt, from his online bio:

His career has led to memorable encounters with a man the FBI named the “Reputed Mafia Boss” in Kansas City, a business fronting for the Church of Scientology and prominent national stories such as the Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine H.S. massacre, F-5 tornado destruction killing dozens of people in Oklahoma in 1999 and the Susan Smith murder trial in SC. But lately there’s another dimension of Larry’s work that has impacted viewers with heartfelt stories. Every Friday his “Person of the Week” features those who inspire and make a difference in their communities.

His work has been honored with dozens of state, regional and national awards including EMMY’s, National Headliner, Society of Professional Journalists, Radio Television News Directors Association and Associated Press.

He’s also been inducted into the “Silver Circle”, one of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences [NATAS] Southeast Chapter’s most prestigious awards, honoring a lifetime of achievement and dedication to the television industry.

Outside of journalism, Larry has volunteered for “Meals on Wheels” delivering to shut-ins, the “Muscular Dystrophy Assoc.” and Co-hosts the annual “Friends of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park” Telethon and “Asheville Christmas Parade”.

He is frequently called on to speak and emcee community events.

In his personal life, Larry and his wife Jan have four (grown) children. He’s also a U.S. Navy Veteran, graduate of Purdue University at Fort Wayne and is a federally and tribally recognized member of the Cherokee Nation. He’s happy to now be living near the Eastern Band of Cherokee and in Asheville, but as a fourth generation Oklahoman he will always be proud to be an “Okie From Muskogee” (for those who remember the song!)

 

About the Author

Jason Sandford
Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

36 Comments on "RIFFED! WLOS anchor Larry Blunt abruptly let go from Asheville TV news station"

  1. To fully comprehend the magnitude of what has occurred to Mr Blunt, one must first understand the dynamics that take place in a news organization. It is not a place for the faint of heart, the free of mind, or the light of purse. Let me first say that Mr. Blunt performed amicably, professionally, and near perfectly. He divorced himself from issues that hit close to home when needed, and immersed himself in things he truly had not one iota of care for. He did this, effortlessly, and with a Machiavellian smile etched upon his brow. That is why his abrupt dismissal can only be described as the culmination of man, perhaps at the height of his prowess, simply being “The Wrong man” at the “Wrong Place,” in the “Wrong time.” A decade ago, I had the privilege of being commissioned to do a study on several southeastern media outlets, among them WLOS. This project was funded by a political action committee, in conjunction with a liberal leaning think tank. I broke bread with, spent time with, observed, consulted, and in some cases became “Quite Intimate” with several news 13 anchors and staff. What I am about to say may make some of you feel very uncomfortable, but it is my belief that through discomfort, we often find relevance, purpose, and the answers that our sheltered lives seldom release to us. Like most places, WLOS has a “Corporate Culture” that falls somewhere between a wealthy family Dynasty, and a publicly owned Casino. I say this to express that while I was among them, I experienced some of the most wonderfully awe inspiring, AND most gut wrenchingly painful epiphanies of my adult life. I was allowed to learn, to explore, to love, and to BE LOVED by people who I never thought I would be allowed to enjoy in this manner, particularly within a “Professional office environment.” Chief among the architects of these proceedings, sits Jack Connors, a mercurial management figure who resides somewhere between a glorified Willie Loman and an arguably marginalized King Lear. His style, his ideology, his very MUSK creeps into almost every facet of WLOS both on and off the air. When one considers and accepts this as fact, the reality that Mr. Blunt was even allowed into this environment, much less given an opportunity to thrive, is a mystery unto itself. Late night poker games where absurd amounts of money (and other more, “Intimate commodities”) changed hands were not the exception, but the RULE. The blurring of lines between the sacred and the profane only gave way to all manner of activities that I cannot in good conscience even share in a public forum where innocent eyes may wander freshly powered screens by moonlight. Here in the center of this temple, this ode to things undeserving of even a whisper, sat Larry Blunt. Perhaps in another place and time, Mr. Blunt could have found his wings within such an altitude, forging himself not as an unwitting Prometheus at the moment of sunrise, but as a defiant Odysseus on the eve of his return to violently reclaim that which was his. However, on this day, there would be no suitors fleeing in cowardice, nor tears for scalded wings cast down from heaven’s self righteous sacrilege. Indeed there would only be one man, standing in the place where he lay bare his intent and his worth. But that stand, it came at a cost. You, the public, may never know what truly occurred that wrote the final chapter on Mr. Blunts tenure before your eyes every night. That grinning, even-keeled figure that sat mere inches from the sweet lip-sticked decadences placed next to him for sport, may never greet hungry viewing eyes again. I wish I could share with you, what I long to share with you, but this is not the time. I have a family to feed, and my own fortunes to look after. All I can tell you, is DO NOT WEEP FOR LARRY BLUNT. He does not need your tears. He considers them an insult to not only what he has done, but what he has not yet done but yet shall do. Find ease in his smile, but seek your worth elsewhere. I hope this has been helpful.

  2. First of all,be it known I am not biased.I myself am a minority;but I cannot help but think about the fact the African Americans,the gay,and the Hispanics are still employed at WLOS,but the one(?)Native American has been displaced.Maybe NARF would like to know about this.Wado,Larry,and may the spirit make sunrise in your heart.

  3. I am going to miss him. He was very pleasant to listen to. Sad…Hope something even better comes up very soon for him.

  4. Barry…Having worked in that building, I can tell you that Larry being let go had nothing to do with that. I was a part of the first wave of Sinclair budget cuts back in 2001. Simply put: It came down to the bottom line. Talent, experience, respect in community has nothing to do with these decisions. To quote Metallica: Sad But True.

  5. While I don’t know all the details of this story, I think it is pretty sorry to abruptly terminate ANY one! Not to mention a man who has a family to support. And Larry is extremely well -liked and a credit to his profession. What is wrong with Sinclair Broadcasting?!? Shame on you!

  6. Think it’s a crying shame to let Larry go. Why since he’s a veteran anchor does he have to go ehen there are newbies there? Why couldn’t they let one of them go? What happened to kimberly kings petition to have her removed? If it wasn’t gor Evan Donovan, Tammy Watford,Darcel,Lauren, jon lee and the morning crew snd Jason boyer, I don’t know if I would watch wlos.crying shame and not fair.

  7. I like Larry, hate to see him go. But Wlos has become so liberal, that I dont watch their newscast much anymore. I guess it is like all network news leans to far left. Its obvious that Wlos has a liberal bias. Asheville is a very liberal city, but most thinking people want unbiased news.

  8. I met Larry at the Food Truck Rally last Summer and he was really nice and very down-to-Earth. I wish him the best!

  9. He was one of the best! Why wasn’t the last person hired let go instead of someone who was very experienced and good at his job. Could it be money perhaps? Guess I won’t be watching WLOS news.

  10. Shortly after Larry joined WLOS I watched one of the most amazing 11pm news shows ever. Larry was the only anchor and I can’t remember if there was snow or if it was a holiday but for whatever reason it was just him and whoever was doing weather. There were no reporters doing live segments and frankly I don’t know if there were any technicians in the building.
    Something happened and for the entire half hour there were NO pictures or video of any kind. None of the little video packages that accompany a story. None of the little boxes above his shoulder that said “homicide” or “breaking news”. Nothing. Just Larry’s face. I don’t even know if the teleprompter was working. It seemed like some hazing prank to see if he could handle it.
    My wife and I watched in awe as Larry stared directly at the camera and read ALL the copy of the entire newscast. He read all the stories. Everything except the weather. He added nuance and emotion to all the stories and never got flustered. He never complained or made excuses (Mariah Carey anyone). It was one of the most professional things I’ve every seen. I have had loads of respect for him ever since. A true “Anchorman!!!”
    It seems suspicious that WLOS would let him go. What a gem to bring levity and credibility to your broadcast. Wish you the best Larry. Your work will never be forgotten.

  11. Larry and Jan, the world is not fair. Bad things happen to good people. Why? Who has the answer? You will be missed. Look forward to a better job and happier days. God bless.

  12. I wonder if it has anything to do with this? Gotta start clearing the newsrooms of people unused to working in a ‘propo’ environment?

    Sinclair Broadcast Group Denies Trump Campaign Claim of ‘Deal’ for Favorable Coverage
    bit.ly/2gYgLYX

    “Sinclair, a Maryland-based company, has been labeled in some reports as a conservative-leaning local news network. Local stations in the past have been directed to air “must run” stories produced by Sinclair’s Washington bureau that were generally critical of Obama administration and offered perspectives primarily from conservative think tanks, The Washington Post reported in 2014.”

  13. So sad, he will be missed…
    I always thought he must be a Christian. Because he had a smile on his face just.about all the time. And he seemed So happy. My prayers are with him and his family. Good luck and God bless you

  14. Larry is a good man and the way SInclair has dealt with him is unacceptable. It may be legal, but it is not moral.

  15. Polly J. Leatherwood | January 5, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Reply

    So sorry, why did they close the position Darcel holds, and keep him as the replacement. After all she has 36 years service and they could have offered her a package and kept him. Just thinking.

  16. This is so crazy why would they let Larry go when some of the other anchors stink. There are a few I have seen on the air that cant read their lines and make mistakes. I guess if Larry had been blond and had a fake smile he would still be on the air. I will not be watching WLOS anymore, and who ever started the stupid news at five, five
    thirty and six needs to be laid off.

  17. Charles Swafford | January 5, 2017 at 11:50 am | Reply

    WLOS should inform it ,s listners why such a action was conducted in such an unusual manner.

  18. Vicky J Caldwell | January 5, 2017 at 10:51 am | Reply

    Well I will miss him I thought the family at News 13 was united and of good accord, how do you dismiss family if nothing is done wrong…. he is a good person wonderful news person and I think you are wrong to do him and his family this way, he served you well why did you not him???

  19. This is exactly why I quit watching ABC. I can name you others you should have gotten rid of instead of Larry. I have moved to watching WYFF news lately because WlOS has gone down hill.

  20. They have eliminated the wrong persons position. Larry was there and did a excellent job the three months Darcel was not. I will have to find a new news station.

  21. WLOS:. The Public deserves and ANSWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE IDIOTS!!!!!!! GE WAS THE BEST YOU HAD!!! THERE NEEDS TO BE A CITY WIDE PROTEST!!! IAM OUTRAGED BEYOND WORDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. WLOS has changed so much in the last couple of years. One could always know which news channel was on from another room from the lack of sensationalism and hype. With the new people the station has been adding, this news (sadly) is not surprising. From the terrifying tease mid program to the hyped up news, ELOS has become like every other Sinclair station. Perhaps they should stick with what has worked to put the station in the top 40 and be the station Asheville deserves and warrants. Instead of meeting our needs, Sinclair is throwing away our niche and replacing it with pseudo Barbie dolls and scare tactics. It makes you wonder if anyone has visited Asheville to know we move here to get away from the stereotypical BS fed to the masses in other areas. Shame on Sinclair. God’s speed Larry. You will be missed.

  23. Barbara Biddix | January 5, 2017 at 9:03 am | Reply

    This station does some stupid things, this is one of them !!

  24. Gladys ballard | January 5, 2017 at 8:24 am | Reply

    This sounds crazy. Why is Kim King still on staff?

  25. I am shocked to read this news. Now, at a time when the entire nation is in upheaval, you choose to remove a long trusted newscaster? WLOS, this will not sit well with your listening/watching audience.

  26. Gerald Greene | January 5, 2017 at 6:27 am | Reply

    It is hard far me to believe this. Larry is one reason I have continued to watch WLOS News
    I have been in business 50 years plus and in my experience when a business starts downsizing they don’t start at the best but get rid of someone they do not need and is not doing their job
    I am through with WLOS and their liberal stand

  27. Glata Grindstaff | January 5, 2017 at 1:20 am | Reply

    I am really saddened by this news. It just won’t be the same without him 😞
    Prayers for Larry and Jan!

  28. Chris Blackwell | January 4, 2017 at 11:48 pm | Reply

    I am just seeing this and am in total disbelief as well as extremely disappointed with the powers that be doing this with the excuse of no longer needing that position when it has been obvious that there has been several new faces appearing on different news casts.

  29. Winston hefner | January 4, 2017 at 11:36 pm | Reply

    So sad to see this wonderful news person leaving our TV Station in Western North Carolina. I just cannot comprehend the decesion of Sinclair Broadcasting letting this news man go. I will be watching channel 7 and 4 to get my local news…

  30. Wow could it have been because he voted Trump like Obama and bill did ????

  31. That is terrible news!! Larry does a great job! He didn’t deserve to be treated this way. He won’t have a problem finding a job. Sinclair and the viewers are the losers.

  32. What a sleazy way to let someone go. No notice. He’s worked at WLOS for 11+ years. I think Sinclair is just as sleazy as they come…..i have an idea! Get rid of the corporate sleaze commentator, Mark Hyman instead of Larry Blunt!

  33. Mark Pompilio, Bob Williams, Jon Greiner….the “unceremoniously dumped” list is a long one. Tough gig.

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