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Long-time news director Budd McEntee resigns from WAGA-TV

490Long-time news director Budd McEntee resigned today from his post at Fox affiliate WAGA-TV this afternoon.

He’s leaving at the end of the week. A WAGA spokeswoman said a replacement is being sought but has yet to be named. This is the second major shift in management in just a few weeks. The station’s veteran general manager Gene McHugh stepped down last month, replaced by Bill Schneider.

McEntee, 55, said his decision to retire was independent from McHugh’s.

“It’s been a fascinating opportunity and a great ride,” McEntee said in an interview today. “I need some time to throttle back a bit and take care of me and my family.” He will take some time off before deciding what his next step will be.

An insider took a shot of his going-away announcement today.

An insider took a shot of his going-away announcement today.

McEntee, who joined the station as a producer in 1982, has been news director at WAGA since 1991. His proudest accomplishment: turning I-Team investigative team into an award-winning powerhouse. (”That team is so bloody committed!” he said.)

WAGA runs more local news than any other station in town and is a strong second place behind ABC affiliate Channel 2 Action News in overall ratings.

Its 10 p.m. news often beats scripted fare on other networks, especially if Fox airs a strong 9 p.m. program such as “American Idol.” Its morning “Good Day Atlanta” show has been consistently popular for years, anchored currently by Mark Hayes and Suchita Vadlamani.

Brett Martin, the former “Good Day Atlanta” Road Warrior features reporter who was let go from the station in 2007, said McEntee was liked by some, not so much by others. Martin said he hardly ever dealt with McEntee because McEntee was not a fan of feature stories.

“He was passionate about being first, getting it right and getting it on the air,” said Angeline Hartmann, who worked at WAGA-TV from 1996 to 2005 and is now a correspondent at “America’s Most Wanted” in Washington D.C.

She said for people he knew were loyal to WAGA, he treated well. And even when she left, he would joke to her, “You’ll always work for me.” Years later, he would still call her for tips and would ask her when she was returning. (”When you leave WAGA, you have a little 5 carved in your heart,” McEntee added. “It’s a special place where people take care of each other and turn out some of the best storytelling and reporting I’ve ever seen.”)

“The longer you’re there, the more you can appreciate him,” Hartmann said. “I’ve had my share of him calling me into his office letting me know he wasn’t happy about this or that. But he made me a better reporter and helped me develop a thick skin.”

She said she was shocked he was stepping down: “We always thought he’d die there!”

McEntee admitted he could be tough on his people. “It’s not nirvana,” he said. “It’s not heaven. People may say, ‘I didn’t care for Budd or care for Channel 5.’ But I have to tell you: I have been blessed with an incredible team of people who are just so good at what they do. They will continue to be great at what they do. And it doesn’t hurt to have a corporation stand behind you [like News Corp.]”

He also thinks the growth of Fox News during his tenure WAGA has only helped the station. “It’s a very strong name and a name people instantly recognize,” he said. “And to be honest with you, a lot of people call us with tips we wouldn’t have gotten in other instances.”

He has built some loyalty. “Why do they stay?” he asked, jokingly adding, “Must be my cheerful personality!” He said: “I want to be the best it can be. I don’t want viewers to have to work. I don’t want viewers to have to sit there and figure out what we said. We were fair and balanced at WAGA before fair and balanced was cool!”

McEntee, as a background guy, didn’t embrace the front of the camera. A quick Google image search for him landed exactly one tiny single shot, taken for the Live Apartment Fire blog, written by former WAGA-TV reporter Doug Richards, now at WXIA-TV:

mcentee

There is video of him at an Atlanta Press Club meeting from 2009 responding to a question of whether local news “stinks,” a statement a rival news director said in general.

And for folks who like seeing old promos, here’s one for the I-Team circa 1994.

Here’s when the station moved from CBS to Fox:

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24 comments Add your comment

Walter Cronkite

September 27th, 2010
6:10 pm

Well…he did hire the best anchor in local news, Russ Spencer (no, I’m not Russ’ mom). WAGA has also largely avoided junk like the Wiz-O-Meter and “The Station That Helps You”.

Katie Couric

September 27th, 2010
6:23 pm

Don’t forget TOUGH QUESTIONS.

Andy

September 27th, 2010
8:36 pm

The turnover is low at Fox5? They seem to go through reporters like some people change their socks. I guess if it’s low there, it must be worse at other stations.

Still, almost every one there is awesome to watch — hopefully, whoever they get next will discontinue the debate on news they are starting to do. I guess they are taking their cues from Fox News Channel for that.

gr8Guy

September 27th, 2010
8:59 pm

why are all news director types jerks? nice guys never seem to do well in this business i guess. and crack on fox news all you want, but they’re makin’ alot more money than you are my friend

EarlyCuyler

September 28th, 2010
12:07 am

don’t wiz on the electric fence!

Peter Tinkham

September 28th, 2010
5:11 am

Cici

September 28th, 2010
7:22 am

Now if he would just take Mark Hayes with him, I’d be a happy news watcher!

Eddie43

September 28th, 2010
8:56 am

Take Tom Haynes too. That “News Edge” at 11 has pretty much been a ratings failure.

Former Foxer

September 28th, 2010
10:32 am

Good. He is a horrible man.

monica

September 28th, 2010
11:52 am

How long was he there?

sara

September 28th, 2010
12:15 pm

Usually when a manager leaves a position and several employees are happy, it means that the manager held people accountable and workers don’t like that.
When employees suck they dont like being told so. Fact.

Fact...

September 28th, 2010
12:29 pm

No Sara, in this case, employees are happy because he was truly a horrible manager and he should have been shown the door a decade ago. There is a difference between being held accountable, and being verbally abused. Those who lead by fear and intimidation aren’t leading at all, they are simply overcompensating for their lack of skills and vision. Fact.

wsb-tv

September 28th, 2010
2:03 pm

I think Mr.McEntee is a good man, I went to school with both of his children.. I think its good that he is able to retire and get on with his life.

LoveWAGA

September 28th, 2010
2:42 pm

Bud is old school and he’s tough but he treated my better half very well. He’s a decent person and Angeline Hartmann said it best – he makes people better reporters. No hand holding in this business – you’ve got to take the good with the bad. Fox 5 won’t be the same. Before Bud’s news, heard people there were already getting their resumes together with the shake down happening. It’s going to be tough for them going forward.

Josh Fialkoff

September 28th, 2010
3:45 pm

Whether you like Budd McEntee or not (and I definitely do), one thing no one can deny is that he has left a lasting mark on the station–and the Atlanta TV market as a whole.
I can say unequivocally that, in my case, Budd personally nurtured me from the moment I started my internship to the day I left the station.

Stan

September 28th, 2010
6:12 pm

People lived in fear of Budd. He was a mixture of Ron Burgundy (from Anchorman movie), Sgt Carter ( from Gomer Pile), and Saddam Hussein. Anyone who worked there and has nice things to say about him is obviously suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

ga_hokie

September 28th, 2010
7:22 pm

Budd is a smart, thoughtful and extremely caring person. I have known his family for over 10 years, the characteristics I previously listed are evident in all of the members of the McEntee household. Those on here saying otherwise are nothing more than internet trolls. Best of luck to you Mr. Mc!

Amelia Island

September 28th, 2010
7:38 pm

Another jackass news director bites the dust…….

Stan

September 28th, 2010
7:39 pm

Yo ga hokie…the Budd I knew made third trimester reporters work late night stakeouts, the Budd I knew fired a reporter while she was in the hospital suffering from a potentially lethal infection, the Budd I knew forced Fox to settle employee grievances out of court. Oh, and then there was that time Budd fired a live truck operator for getting the Fox 5 van stuck on the football field in which his kids attended ( that was funny). He may have been a good neighbor… but he was Henry the 8th at work. Troll on that…

5

September 28th, 2010
8:39 pm

He is unemployable.
A shameful man.

[...] comes just a few weeks after a new GM, BILL SCHNEIDER, joined the station.  More details in this article from the Atlanta [...]

anonymous

September 29th, 2010
6:36 pm

You can only hope with the addition of Bill Schneider and the departure of Budd McEntee that someone will figure out how to manage at WAGA. The talk of Budd being a good or bad manager is laughable because nobody at WAGA actually manages anything, certainly not people.

georgia girl

October 1st, 2010
1:28 pm

Worked at WAGA newsroom in the mid 90s. It was truly one of the most miserable jobs I’ve ever had in over 25 years in broadcasting. Budd set the tone in the newsroom with his rude and derogatory treatment of his staff. One of the associate producers dropped dead of a heart attack at age 45 in the late 90s, and I still believe it was from the stress of working there.

[...] WAGA-TV, Atlanta, GA…longtime ND BUDD McENTEE retired Friday after 19 years as ND (and 28 years at this FOX o-and-o).  Budd joined the station as a producer and moved up, eventually becoming ND in 1991.  His retirement comes shortly after a new GM, BILL SCHNEIDER, joined the station.  More in this article. [...]