Tuesday, August 17, 2004

American University has asked the D.C. Superior Court to reject the wrongful-termination lawsuit filed in June by Susan Clampitt, who was fired last fall as general manager of the school’s public radio station, WAMU-FM (88.5).

The university’s decision to dismiss Ms. Clampitt was based on “legitimate business factors,” according to an eight-page response that one of the school’s in-house attorneys filed in the court July 27.

Benjamin A. Ladner, the university’s president, fired Ms. Clampitt in October after reports of financial and morale problems at WAMU were published.

Ms. Clampitt’s complaint claims Mr. Ladner approved her financial recommendations and failed to take responsibility for his role in causing morale to slump at the National Public Radio-affiliated station. She is seeking more than $12 million in damages.

“AU denies the allegations,” said Todd Sedmak, a university spokesman.

Ms. Clampitt’s attorney declined comment.

The university is still searching for Ms. Clampitt’s successor, Mr. Sedmak said.

Halftime surprise

Tracey Neale, the anchor-in-waiting at WUSA-TV (Channel 9), unexpectedly popped up during the CBS affiliate’s coverage of the Washington Redskins preseason game Saturday.

Ms. Neale, in her first TV appearance since December, introduced a brief news update on Hurricane Charley at the game’s midpoint.

For some viewers, it was probably the biggest halftime surprise since Janet Jackson’s wardrobe “malfunction” at the Super Bowl in February.

Near the end of the report, weekend weatherman Tony Pann welcomed Ms. Neale to WUSA, telling her it’s “nice to have you, finally.”

She thanked him, then turned to the camera and told viewers it was good to be back. She also advised them to watch her in September, when she will begin co-anchoring WUSA’s weekday 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.

The popular Ms. Neale has been missing from the local airwaves since December, when she left rival WTTG-TV (Channel 5) after nine years.

She joined WUSA in March, but the station has kept her off the air while it overhauls its anchor team.

Todd McDermott, an anchor and reporter at New York’s CBS station, is expected to join WUSA next month and team with Ms. Neale on at least one newscast.

The big mystery: Whether longtime Channel 9 star Gordon Peterson will anchor with her, too.

WUSA also used the Saturday football game — which drew a healthy 326,000 households, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc. — to introduce promotional spots touting Ms. Neale’s arrival.

Brooke’s back

Brooke Stevens, Chris Core’s co-host at WMAL-AM (630) from 1996 until 2000, returns to radio this weekend when she joins “The Tom Moore Show,” which airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on WCBM-AM (680) in Baltimore.

Where’s Pat?

Another sign of shrinking newsroom budgets: WRC-TV (Channel 4) didn’t send Pat Collins to Athens to cover the Olympics this month, the first time in ages the quirky newsman hasn’t reported on the games for the NBC station.

• Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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