Abrupt departure of two top Ch. 11 pros King and Leiderman add to station’s continuing problems

Ch. 11 executive VP/television Randy King and “Chicago Tonight” executive producer Mike Leiderman have left the station. King quit out of frustration, and Leiderman was abruptly fired.

Station president/CEO Dan Schmidt takes over King’s position, and executive producer/news Mary Field moves into Leiderman’s slot.

King’s frustration was generated by cutbacks, lack of funding and continuing deficits that killed his plans for new shows to pep up the often dull programming for the PBS flagship station.

King, who was hired from Ch. 32 three years ago, brought Bob Sirott over from Ch. 32 to host “Chicago Tonight,” and successfully developed several shows, such as acclaimed “Soundstage” and the new “Legends of Jazz” series, in an effort to create appealing original programming.

But other series he had in development, including Thea Flaum’s “Comedy Tonight,” died because of lack of underwriting support. “Comedy Tonight” would’ve been the first new American comedy series on PBS in a generation.

Leiderman, a 28-year veteran TV producer, was fired a few days earlier for unspecified budget and management issues. He joined Ch. 11 in 2000 to produce “Chicago Stories.”