Wcau-tv Veteran Harvey Clark Axed

Posted: October 11, 1991

Harvey Clark, the veteran WCAU-TV reporter who received national acclaim for his coverage of the 1985 MOVE disaster, has been fired.

Clark, who joined WCAU in 1978, was halfway through a four-year contract when station management fired him Wednesday. The station had an option to cut short or renew the contract in January, and station manager Eugene Lothery ''decided not to renew it," a station spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.

It's not clear whether Clark will remain on the job until the first half of his contract expires in January.

Neither Lothery nor news director Drew Berry would comment. Clark also refused to speak about his termination, referring questions to his attorney, Glenn Goldstein.

"We were very surprised" by WCAU's decision, Goldstein said. "Harvey's reputation has long been solidified as a premier television reporter in Philadelphia. This was recognized both within and outside of the station for many years."

Clark received numerous local and national awards for his reporting on WCAU's newscasts and work on "Channel 10 The People," a public-affairs show he hosted for four years.

He was taken off the weekly show last fall, reportedly after arguing unsuccessfully to keep it focused on substantial issues. He was replaced by Pat Battle, who, ironically, also left the station this month when her contract was not renewed.

WCAU-TV recently hired three young reporters and anchors who begin this month: Noon news co-anchor Renee Chenault, most recently a reporter and public-affairs show host in Atlanta; general assignment reporter Andrew Glassman, formerly a reporter in Albuquerque; and weekend sports anchor Dave Culbreth, last a sports anchor in Macon, Ga.

In addition to Clark and Battle, reporter Bonnie Keller also leaves this month. Culbreth replaces Jeff Asch, who will return to sports producing.

Clark, a 13-year veteran, is believed to be among the highest paid of the station's on-air personnel.

Clark gained the most recognition for his coverage of the 1985 MOVE confrontation, during which he reported on the fire for 23 consecutive hours. With WCAU cameraman Pete Kane, he provided live coverage that documented the

inferno for spellbound Philadelphians as well as for members of the MOVE

commission later that year.

Clark also won Channel 10 accolades for undercover reporting on the drug trade in North Philadelphia; for "The Lion of Zion," covering a trip to West Africa with the Rev. Leon Sullivan; "Operation Understanding," about Philadelphia teen-agers visiting Africa and the Middle East; and a documentary on the city's homeless women.

But the special reports that Clark preferred to do may have clashed with the philosophy of WCAU's current management. In 1991, most local TV news is reported with an eye to a tight budget and the audience's short attention span.

Colleagues also said Clark, 47, differed with Lothery as to what his role as a senior reporter for the newscasts should be.

Goldstein said "it's too soon to speak" about Clark's post-Channel 10

plans.

Clark said: "I will be here. Philadelphia's my home now."

A native of Chicago, Clark first planned a career in business management. But in 1972, his sister Michele Clark, an anchor for the CBS Morning News, was killed in a plane crash. Speaking at her memorial service, the 27-year-old Clark made a strong impression on Richard Salant, then president of CBS News. ''If you ever think about getting into the business, give me a buzz," Clark recalled Salant as saying.

Six years later, after finishing school and working briefly at CBS's WCCO- TV in Minneapolis, Clark joined WCAU-TV.

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