KNX-AM (1070) reporter and anchor Gail Eichenthal resigned from the outlet where she started working 19 years ago, saying she was uncomfortable with what she saw as a new direction for the station and a softening of its hard-news edge.
Although station management had offered what she called a "dream job," anchoring the afternoon-drive newscast, Eich enthal said Monday that she quit in part because she would be partnered with former traffic reporter Jim Thornton.
"I was paired with a very wonderful colleague who has no news experience," she said. "A terrific guy and a talented broadcaster, who will tell you himself he's not a journalist."
Eichenthal said she wasn't quitting because of Thornton: "It's not about him. I was uncomfortable with the direction the station was going, which was away from hard news."
David G. Hall, who oversees KNX as vice president of AM programming for Infinity Radio, the station's parent company, was out of town Tuesday and also couldn't be reached.
When Hall moved to Infinity in September 2003 to take over KNX and sister news station KFWB-AM (980), his talk-radio background had many observers anxious that he would steer KNX away from hard news to a news-talk hybrid, a format that has brought success to stations such as KOGO-AM (600) in San Diego and KGO-AM (810) in San Francisco.
Hall, however, said at the time that he was returning to his roots -- he was an award-winning news reporter at KFBK-AM (1530) in Sacramento and created the news department at KFI-AM (640).
Hall's hiring last year of longtime L.A. talk-radio icon Michael Jackson -- albeit to do personality interviews, not a traditional talk show -- is seen by some as further evidence that he is changing the voice of the station.
"My discomfort grew over time. This was not an impulsive move," Eichenthal said. "This was an extremely amicable parting. It's a difference of philosophy, and I think David Hall understands completely how I feel."
Eichenthal started at KNX in 1985 and worked there off and on for a decade until she was hired full time as a reporter and anchor in 1995. She's won numerous awards, including those from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club and the Radio & TV News Directors Assn., for reporting on such issues as home schooling, business and the O.J. Simpson trial.
Vicky Cox, a reporter from sister news station KFWB-AM (980), will be taking over Eichenthal's slot, joining Thornton on the 2 to 6 p.m. weekday broadcast.