Derek Dalton was forced out Thursday as president and general manager of WBBM-Channel 2 as part of a housecleaning of top management at CBS-owned stations in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.
The shakeup followed an external investigation into allegations of misconduct by leadership at the stations group. No specific allegations against Dalton were cited in the company’s announcement or disclosed in a staff meeting.
Dalton, 64, who has headed CBS 2 since 2018, did not respond to requests for comment. A search is on for his replacement, according to Wendy McMahon, president and co-head of CBS News, the CBS Television Stations and CBS News Digital.
In an email to employees, George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS Entertainment Group, wrote: “This has been a difficult period for everyone in the group. The investigation cited painful revelations about experiences that we cannot tolerate today or in the future.
“While the investigation largely looked at events in the past, and the issues revealed were more profound in certain areas and at specific stations than others, there are clear things we need to address moving forward. Our diversity, equity and inclusion standards need to be a top priority for leadership at every corner of our stations business.
“Our workplace culture needs to measurably improve and your trust needs to be restored with your CBS leaders.”
Also out is Jay Howell, president and general manager of KCBS in Los Angeles. Earlier this month CBS promoted Johnny Green Jr. from interim news director to president and general manager of WCBS in New York, replacing Peter Dunn.
Dunn had been ousted from his dual roles as president of CBS Television Stations and president and general manager of WCBS in April after a Los Angeles Times investigation disclosed a culture of sexism and racism at the highest level of the stations division.
Dunn’s behavior was cited for the abrupt resignation of Marty Wilke after six years as president and general manager of CBS 2 in 2018. Once Wilke left, nearly all of the senior female executives she had championed were also driven out. “The culture starts and stops with Peter Dunn,” she told the Times.
Dalton joined CBS 2 from WHEC, the NBC affiliate in Rochester, New York. He'd previously worked in Chicago as national sales manager for WGN-Channel 9 and director of sales for Tribune Broadcasting.
A graduate of Boston College, Dalton started his career at Xerox Corp. in New York City before he shifted to broadcasting at WLVI, the CW affiliate in Boston, as a sales executive. He also held sales and management positions in Denver and San Diego.
Here is the text of McMahon’s email to staff (as first reported by FTVLive):
This is an important day for all of us at CBS Stations.
After six months of an extremely thorough and exhaustive review of our organization and culture, I am writing to let you know the external investigation into leadership at our Stations has concluded and, as a result, we will be seeking new general managers for our Los Angeles and Chicago stations.
I want to thank everyone who took the time to talk to the investigators. Your care and concern for your colleagues…and your courage…have enabled us to move forward.
Our future is dependent on our ability to lead the way in local news and to connect deeply with the communities we serve. Over the past weeks, I have been meeting with each of our station leadership teams, elevating content, culture and community as our priorities across CBS Stations. Our success is only possible if we come together and start rewriting the future we want for our stations now. It is only possible if leaders at every level of the organization share the same commitment…the same values and priorities.
While acknowledging the range of emotions from the past few months, today is an opportunity for all of us to look forward. George, Neeraj and I are committed to leading with transparency, respect and inclusion…to cultivating a spirit of collaboration and innovation…to doing the right thing for our united organization and teams as we reimagine our brands and businesses during a time of tremendous change.
We will begin our search for new leaders in Los Angeles and Chicago immediately and I will keep you posted as we move forward. In the meantime, I know this day may be difficult for many of you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your department head, Human Resources or me if there is anything we can do to support you.