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Mike Garber out as CBS11 news director after rocky two-year tenure marked by major personnel changes/declining ratings


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Mike Garber is out as CBS11 news director after a two-year stay marked by numerous major personnel changes and departures, plus declining ratings.

Informed sources tell unclebarky.com that Garber has resigned, with some staffers told first-hand of his departure Thursday morning. Director of communications Lori Conrad later confirmed Garber’s resignation, saying he “has left to pursue other opportunities, and we wish him well.” Conrad said that assistant news director Laurie Passman will be CBS11’s interim news director.

Garber joined CBS11 in July of 2014 from WPTV/WFLX-TV in West Palm, Beach, FL, where he had been news director for two years. He replaced Adrienne Roark, who is now general manager at Fox affiliate KPTV-TV in Portland, Oregon after a four-year stay as CBS11’s news director.

Under Garber’s watch, longtime 6 and 10 p.m. weekday anchor Karen Borta was transferred to CBS11’s early morning newscasts (replacing Adrienne Bankert) while sports anchor Babe Laufenberg and chief meteorologist Larry Mowry both abruptly left the station after lengthy tenures. Garber’s replacement for Laufenberg, Keith Russell, was recently sent to weekends while veteran utility man Bill Jones took over the featured 6 and 10 p.m. weeknight sports anchor duties on a likely interim basis.

The early morning ratings initially perked up with the team of Borta, co-anchor Jason Allen, meteorologist Scott Padgett and traffic anchor Tammy Dombeck, who had been substituting for Whitney Drolen after she resigned early in Garber’s tenure. But CBS11’s first-ever third-place finish in the 6 a.m. ratings among key 25-to-54-year-old viewers (during the May 2015 “sweeps”) did not deter Garber from breaking up this team by hiring Chelsey Davis as traffic anchor and Russ McCaskey in place of Allen, who went back to the reporting pool. Ratings then plummeted.

In the May 2016 sweeps, CBS11 was the only station without any wins at 6 a.m. or 5, 6 and 10 p.m. in either total viewers or 25-to-54-year-olds (the main advertiser target audience for news programming).

CBS11 finished a distant last across the board among 25-to-54-year-olds and on the bottom in total viewers everywhere except 10 p.m., where it edged Fox4 for third place.

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