Former Detroit TV anchor says he was let go from mid-Michigan station over mask stance

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Former WXYZ-TV anchor Frank Turner, now working at a TV station in mid-Michigan, said on Thursday that he was fired from the station because he didn't want to share the studio "unmasked with other colleagues."

In a post on Facebook, Turner said he was "unceremoniously" let go after WNEM-TV's noon broadcast over his stance. WNEM is based in Saginaw and also covers Flint, Bay City and Midland.

"I guess they'd rather not have me at all than accommodate me on the mask in a pandemic," wrote Turner.

Frank Turner, a former anchor with WXYZ in Detroit, said he lost his job Thursday at WNEM TV5 in Saginaw because he didn't want to share a studio space unmasked with colleagues.

WNEM, however, says it didn't fire Turner. The station and parent company Meredith said employees are required to wear masks in common areas where they can't socially distance and on-air talent is spaced 6-feet apart in the studio. The station also will require COVID-19 vaccines starting Sept. 17.

"WNEM did not terminate Frank Turner," the station said in a statement. "WNEM has specific COVID-19 protocols in place developed in consultation with medical experts. We wish Mr. Turner the best of luck in his future endeavors."

Turner joined WNEM in 2016 after leaving WXYZ in 2006 to pursue ministry. Turner, an Emmy-winning reporter who started at WXYZ in 1990, has been open about his struggles in the past with drugs and addiction.

Earlier this year, a Michigan TV reporter lost her job over mask and COVID-19 testing policies. 

Meteorologist April Moss was fired from WWJ-TV in Detroit in June after she accused her network on-air of discrimination related to COVID-19 testing and mask policies. Moss said she felt "segregated" from colleagues because of the weekly mandatory COVID-19 testing and mask policies.

Turner, who said he had no idea the noon broadcast would be his last, said he'll miss viewers.

"It's been great," he wrote. "And you all have been wonderful."

mfeighan@detroitnews.com