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Ch. 4′s Murphy Also May Explore Options

John Murphy: Will He Leave, Too?

Ever since stilltalkintv announced that Channel 4 sportscaster Paul Peck was leaving the station after 24 years, insiders at the station have been whispering in my ear that “John Murphy may be next.”

So I called Murphy at home Monday and didn’t hear back from him. I called him Tuesday and didn’t hear back from him. I called him Wednesday morning and didn’t hear back from him. That made me sense that there might be something to the speculation.

So I called him at Channel 4 and before I could ask a question he immediately declined comment about everything.

My instincts and my sources say that the 55-year-old Murphy is considering his options and just may leave the station if his contract allows it.

According to sources, he is considering leaving for the same reasons that Peck is leaving. I’m not talking about Peck’s public comments that he is leaving to spend more time with his teenage daughters and wife. I’m sure that is one consideration. But as the father of three, I know that the teen years are when your children are around you the least as they seek independence. According to sources, the primary reasons that Peck is leaving include pay cuts, the frustration of seeing sports stories covered by non-sports personnel and  the increasing demands on a sports staff that has been cut in half from six a few years ago to three now.

General Manager Chris Musial told the Buffalo News today that “sports is still a popular thing.” But the way sports is being treated at the station contradicts that statement and has led to Murphy’s unhappiness.

“He’s very frustrated,” said one insider of Murphy. “Sports at the station is being given the bum’s rush. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think he is considering leaving considering how little he has to work with and how badly he’s been treated.”

Murphy also soon will be under even more pressure when Peck leaves in a week or two and Murphy is the only on-air sports staffer at the station. Channel 4 General Manager Chris Musial said the station plans a quick search to replace Peck but “quick” isn’t a word often used in the same sentence with Channel 4 hiring practices. A few years ago, the station said it was going to replace Robin Adams after she left the station. She never was replaced. It took about 18 months for Channel 4 to replace Lisa Flynn as the 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. news anchor.

According to sources, Murphy is usually a mild-mannered guy, but his frustrations were audible last week during the coverage of the free agent signing of Mario Williams.

If he were to decide to leave, Murphy would appear to have potential options to stay in the broadcasting business.

He already is the radio voice of the Buffalo Bills. Many National Football League teams are known to hire their voices full-time to use them in expanded public relations and marketing roles. That could be one option.

WGR radio also is the new home of the Bills and is undoubtedly aware of Murphy’s background as a radio host before he went to TV. The station could possibly find some shifts for him to do as a talk show host.

And then there’s Channel 2. There always is Channel 2 when it comes to former Channel 4 staffers. It is the only local station that still seems to care a lot about sports coverage.

Murphy can’t go back to Channel 7. He left the station four years ago for Channel 4. Besides, Channel 7 couldn’t afford to pay him then and it certainly can’t afford to pay him now.

Over at Channel 2, sports director Ed Kilgore has already seen his role diminished. He now only anchors the 6 p.m. sportscast, while Adam Benigni takes the evening sports anchor shifts. Benigni eventually is expected to do both the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. shifts.

But I could see Channel 2 deciding to retire Kilgore and give Murphy the 6 p.m. anchor shift, along with other duties that come from being the voice of the Bills. It would be a wise move for Channel 2 to stick it to Channel 4 again. Its staff already includes former Channel 4 staffers Kevin O’Neill, Melissa Holmes and Mary Beth Wrobel.

This is all just educated speculation. Channel 4 officials must realize it can’t afford to lose any more names and would be wise to do everything it can to ease Murphy’s frustrations and make him happier so he’ll stay. That would even include forgetting about more pay cuts and enlarging the sport staff to closer to past levels.

But Channel 4 and the word “wise” haven’t belonged in the same sentence of late. In short, I wouldn’t be shocked (nor would many of his co-workers) if Murphy decided to leave as soon as his contract allows him to leave.


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7 responses to "Ch. 4′s Murphy Also May Explore Options"

  1. Dave says:

    Channel 4 seems to be in a hurry to catch Channel 7 in the basement. Losing Murphy would be a serious blow.

    I agree that finding some radio time for Murphy on WGR would be a great thing. I could do without Cowherd and Rome. I find them tiresome. I’d prefer to talk local all day, and let the syndication fill out the after-dinner hours.

    It was nice to hear Brad Riter back on the air too while some WGR personalities were on vacations. Even bringing Riter back for a limited local shift over Cowherd would be an improvement. It’s bad when the station makes fun of their own show (Cowherd.)

  2. Rob says:

    Some thoughts while wondering what happened to Rick Pfeiffer….

    I believe Murphy to be the leader in sports for not only television but radio as well. He had big shoes to fill on WBEN when he took over from Stan Barron and Murph was more that up to the challenge. With broadcast news diminishing the role of sports I would love for a second radio station that focused on sports and/or news talk. WECK had a quality line-up but their signal was weak and it is a station that’s underfunded. A program with Murph, Peck, Riter and tapping into local personalities/writers like Reuben Brown or Mike Harrington would be great. I kind of agree with Dave about Rome and Cowherd but I think you do need some national syndication for the global aspects of sports or news. Bills and Sabres 24/7 would get old quick, as you can see on GR when the afternoon people would rather conduct food drafts.

  3. Bill J. says:

    Murph should have been insulted that they built a whole new set, and did not even give him any kind of desk to broadcast from. Murph stands in the middle of nowhere, holding papers in his hand, he might as well be out in the parking lot. I said it before, but I will say it again….Chris Musial will go down as one of the dumbest, and worst station managers in Buffalo history

  4. Gman says:

    Dump Schopp and pair Murph with Bulldog. ( ironic that they are both WBEN alum)

  5. Tina says:

    High School kids could run a station better than the idiots at Channel 4. I don’t feel sorry for them one bit, they did this to themselves.

  6. I recall back when Murphy left 7 for 4 that WGR tried to land him, but because they didn’t have the Bills at the time, they couldn’t get him, and they ended up with Dennis Williams instead. I would expect WGR to make a full-time push for Murph should he leave, even if the Bills cover some part of his salary. I don’t see John leaving the area like Williams eventually did; he and Mary Travers have rooted themselves here for a long time.

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