2008 flashback: Cari Champion leaves CBS46 (WGCL)


Originally posted March 19, 2008 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Curses! She's gone again!

Cari Champion has left WGCL-TV for a new unspecified broadcast job just a few weeks after being reinstated. She had originally been fired for accidentally uttering a possible obscenity on the air last November.

While the word she said could have been construed as a curse, she claimed she actually said "mothersucka." After she lost her job, she went public defending herself, saying she deserved punishment but felt being canned was too extreme. She hired an attorney and after some negotiations, WGCL relented, giving back her reporter/weekend anchor job in January.

Subscription broadcast news site Newsblues.com broke the story.

I spoke with Champion late afternoon Tuesday for the first time. She can't say what her new broadcast job is quite yet but has given WGCL two weeks notice. Her final day at the local CBS affiliate is Friday.

WGCL management "was very gracious with me," she said. "They were very kind. It was an amicable separation." She said her new job "is a better opportunity you can't pass up."

She worked at WGCL for two years and has been in broadcast journalism for six years. As for the "mothersucka" incident, "I just wanted to restore my reputation and do a good job." She said she "will miss Atlanta so much. I love this city!"

Here's what she originally told Richard Prince at the Maynard Institute about the incident:

"I was talking to my co-anchor during a commercial break. The floor director did not cue me or my co-anchor, and when it was time to tease an upcoming story, you could only hear us but not see us.

"My co-anchor and I were talking about a mechanical screenwriter. It is difficult to use at times. The last part of our conversation was silly banter and barely audible, but it was picked up. I called the screenwriter a 'mothersucka' not the f-bomb. I emphatically deny any attempted cover up of the mishap. In fact I was the one who brought it to the attention of the news directors. And, the beta tape, wherever it is, has conversation that clearly supports my position."

In other broadcast news, Wes Sarginson's final day at WXIA-TV was last Friday. He has retired after 45 years in the business. He was taken off as primary anchor last April from WXIA-TV. But he kept right on working, as backup anchor and doing plenty of reporting, including his "Wes Side" stories about inspiring profiles in courage. He did so partly because he was still under contract.

Sarginson, 65, who also anchored beside Monica Pearson on WSB-TV from 1978 to 1984, has been at the NBC affiliate for the past decade. At the end of 2005, the award-winning evening anchor stopped anchoring the 11 p.m. news, leaving those duties to a new guy Ted Hall.

Sarginson couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday but I'll update this Wednesday if I track him down.

Last year, when he first announced he was going to retire and step down from anchoring full time, he said he did it to spend more time with his family.

In his career at 11Alive, Wes has covered the 1998 Hall County tornadoes and their aftermath, the Heritage High school shooting and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.