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LA Channel 4 Reporter in Sex Scandal

Los Angeles- The NY Post posts: THE firing of a reporter and two producers has created a mess at NBC’s owned-and-operated Los Angeles TV station, especially since the fired reporter, Kyung Lah, was covering the Michael Jackson case. Lah, who is married, was fired from KNBC-TV when her bosses discovered her alleged affair with her field producer, Jeff Soto, who is also married.

The fallout from the scandal cost nightly news producer Jim Bunner his job as well because he failed to tattle on the lovers to station brass, according to the Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince. The person who ultimately ratted out the cheaters to KNBC management was a producer for “Today in L.A.” who works in the same building – and happens to be Lah’s jilted husband. Steve Sadicario, Lah’s agent, declined to comment. Calls to the beleaguered station were not returned.

Back story: Two producers and a reporter at KNBC-TV, the NBC Universal owned-and-operated station in Los Angeles, were fired last week after the reporter, Kyung Lah, and her field producer, Jeff Soto, reportedly had an affair. Both are married.

“The contract has provisions [stating] that people can be terminated for gross misconduct,” Lawrence Mayberry, broadcast director of the Los Angeles office of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, told Journal-isms, “which is how this event is being characterized by the station.” Lah is an AFTRA member.

Lah’s bio said she was active in the Asian American Journalists Association (she is not a current member, AAJA says), she is listed in “Who’s Who Among Young Asian Americans,” and in Chicago, she was honored by the Organization of Chinese Americans. She was the only Asian American reporter at Chicago’s WBBM-TV when she left for Los Angeles in 2003.

Lah’s husband, Curtis Vogel, continued as an executive producer of morning and midday newscasts at NBC’s WMAQ-TV, and later moved to L.A., where he did freelance producing for NBC.

“I cannot comment,” Paula Madison, president and general manager of KNBC and a Maynard Institute board member, said of the developments. Lah’s agent, Steve Sadicario of the N.S. Bienstock agency in New York, did not return telephone calls.

But a subscription-only newsletter for L.A. television insiders, “Ron Fineman’s On The Record,” reported late last week:

“Part of the problem was that as producer-whether it went down this way or not-Soto was in a position to give Lah favored treatment when it comes to story assignments. Further, one insider suggests that with KNBC being sued by Christopher Nance-who was fired after his relationship got too personal with an intern-KNBC could not look the other way on this one. I’m not saying the two relationships were exactly the same, but possibly close enough to where KNBC management felt it needed to take this action.”

“NO ONE has come forward to disagree with anything I wrote,” Fineman said in an e-mail to Journal-isms.

The other fired producer, Jim Bunner, responsible for the 11 p.m. newscast, was said to have passed along an incriminating note written by Lah to Soto that eventually found its way to management. Events after the discovery also might have played a role in management’s actions.

Neither producer is a member of AFTRA.

Madison told the staff when she arrived at the station in 2000 that she considered such relationships to be firing offenses. Under the AFTRA contract, Mayberry said, employees fired for gross misconduct lose their entitlement to severance pay.

Before her Chicago and L.A. tours, Lah was a general assignment reporter at WWMT-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich. She began her career as a reporter and anchor at WDWS-AM/WHMS-FM Radio in Champaign, Ill. While an undergraduate at the University of Illinois in 1992, she wrote a piece for the Daily Illini, “Race should not be a basis for relationships.” “Okay, shoot me. I like white men,” it began.

 

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