I was in Florida when I first heard about Ryan Clearys departure from VOCM Nightline. I received a flurry of emails from various readers, wondering if Id be writing about it, along with a few tips from people who had heard what went down.
When not chilling by the pool or exploring theme parks, I sent out some inquiries. A picture of what happened was beginning to form, but then I read conflicting accounts, saying that Cleary found the hours difficult and wanted to leave to spend more time with his family. Then it was revealed that Cleary was seeking the federal NDP nomination in St. Johns South-Mount Pearl, another plausible reason to part ways with VOCM.
So I left it alone.
But a few faithful, well-informed readers kept prodding me, sending interesting little notes. That isnt what went down at all, they said.
So I took another look. I placed some calls. And I found a senior person within the Steele organization who was willing to talk to me, without attribution. This person was one of several who were close to the conversation during Clearys departure. Their level-headed account of the sequence of events indicates to me, at least that this is as close to the truth as you will read anywhere.
On the day Cleary left, I received several messages suggesting that Cleary had barged into the bosss office, demanding a substantial raise. When he didnt get it, he left in a huff. Theres a kernel of truth in that but, as it turns out, some drama was added in the telling.
In fact, Cleary did not barge into anyones office. He walked in and calmly presented his case. What Cleary wanted was more money. He also said the Nightline hours were tough, and cutting into his family life.
However, there would not be any salary increase. Management was fairly impressed with Cleary, but he had only been there seven months to that point and was still an unproven entity. The situation was not going to change. His hours were locked in, and there would not be a significant raise in pay.
They had agreed on contract terms, and it was too soon for a rethink. In fact, Clearys request set off some alarms.
If he was demanding enhancements already, what would he be like in a year or two, with some numbers behind him? said my source. Better to deal with it now, than let the situation become entrenched.
Both parties held firm, and thus both agreed to part ways.
I did not ask if Cleary was fired as some have speculated but its clear to me that he wasnt. This would expose the station to a potential lawsuit, since there was no apparent breach of contract. It would seem that both parties agreed to end the relationship. But there was no big blowout.
I asked if Cleary was perhaps eager to leave so he could pursue the federal NDP nomination. I dont think there is any doubt about that. (His political aspirations) were always there, a little bit off to the side.
There is one thing that doesnt add up, and I am not the first to make this observation. Clearys claim that Nightline cut into his family life is bogus, since he is now pursuing federal politics, where family life gets sacrificed for weeks at a time.
My source had good words for Cleary. We have no ill will against him. He is talented. He was good on the show, and had the potential to be very good, with another year or two under his belt. He may be opinionated and controversial, but hes not stupid.