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SWINGING DOORS AT THE END OF THE YEAR

Roper, Hudson depart

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Fiscal types end their fiscal years, and more people than you'd like to know about get fired or get laid off, to make budgets work for the bean counters. In other cases, both parties want to make a clean break and get on with new things in the New Year.

Media departures at the end of the year are a rite of passage like leaves turning, and Charlotte had a couple of notable exits over the past week.

WSOC-FM morning host Jeff Roper said his goodbye to listeners on December 10, after what seemed like an abrupt departure from the station. Both the Infinity station bosses and Roper admitted they could not agree to a new contract, so he's gone after four years at the country FM.

Roper came here in 2000 from Columbia, and from there morning ratings grew at WSOC-FM, and Roper won his second "Broadcast Personality of the Year" award from the Country Music Association in 2003.

But there's also a lawsuit pending against Roper and Infinity by former sidekick Carrie Ann Boggess, alleging harassment and intimidation.

No word on what's next for Roper, but I wouldn't be surprised if he and Fox Charlotte have a chat. WCCB's in need of a lead weatherperson and a host for the Fox Edge program.

Also headed through the "out" door is Charlotte Observer columnist Don Hudson, who left the paper last week. In a memo to staff, Metro editor Steve Gunn wrote, "as a native of Gaston County, he (Hudson) grasped the sensibilities of our readers. His reporting included inside glimpses from city government and from the "uptown crowd" of people who are many of the movers and shakers of our city."

Sounds good from the outside, but from the inside, we hear the departure was not a happy one. Hudson, a columnist who brought a tart look at uptown politics and government to the table, arrived at the Observer in 1999 from The Leader.

Earlier this year, however, Hudson was taken off the Metro columnist's beat and moved to a Style section weekly story that seemed not to be his bailiwick, and "The Insider" business column, which was. When I spoke with him, Hudson confirmed that he is no longer with the paper, but had no further comment.

For my two cents worth, why lose a columnist who also has actual reporting skills, has probably more contacts in high (and low) places than anyone else in town, yet didn't mind calling out the Center City suits when necessary?

Stay tuned...

(Shannon Reichley is the producer of "Lending a Hand: Building More than Houses," airing December 26 on the DIY cable network. Email at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com)

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