Hoffman Piles More on Plate

WSB GM/Cox “champion” adds duties as ABC affiliates board chief

Why This Matters

Bill Hoffman

VP/GM, WSB Atlanta VP, Cox Media Group

B.A., M.A., Michigan State University, 1978

TeleRep, account exec, 1979-1983
WPXI Pittsburgh, national sales manager, 1983- 1984
WCCO Minneapolis, local and national sales manager, 1984- 1990
TeleRep, office manager/Atlanta, 1990-1995
WSB Atlanta, local sales manager, 1995-1997
WFTV Orlando: general sales manager, director of sales, 1997-2002
WFTV/WRDQ Orlando, VP/GM, 2002-2006
WSB, VP/GM, 2006-present
Cox Media Group, VP, 2009- present

b. April 3, 1955; married to Joan; son Douglas, 28, daughter Teddie, 25

As if Bill Hoffman weren’t busy enough running
WSB, Atlanta’s leading station, and overseeing the
rest of Cox Media Group’s TV outlets as its “champion of television,” he recently tacked on
another giant time-eater as chairman
of the ABC affiliates board. With vital
issues such as the FCC’s spectrum acquisition
and the pending NBCU-Comcast
merger’s effect on the competitive
landscape looming, representing ABC’s
200-plus affiliates looks more and more
like a full-time occupation, too.

“That job is driven by the kinds of
events and issues that happen to be
swimming around on your watch,”
Hoffman says. “Right now, it seems like
quite a few things are going on.”

WSB has one of the longest-running
and most popular anchor duos in John
Pruitt and Monica Pearson, and Hoffman
is managing the tricky task of breaking in
new front-line talent as the duo eases toward
retirement. “The transition is working
exceptionally well, thanks to Bill,”
says Pearson, a WSB anchor for 35 years.
“I’ve had good GMs before, but this one
is outstanding.”

Hoffman was raised in the local television
world; his father Pete was half of the
well-regarded McHugh & Hoffman news
consulting firm in the 1960s. “At dinner,
my dad would talk about newses across
the country,” Hoffman recalls, “using all
the newsroom vernacular.”

After getting a master’s in telecommunications
from Michigan State, the Michigan
native landed his first job at the Detroit
offi ce of sales-rep firm TeleRep in 1979,
working with the Cox group. After sales
jobs at stations in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis,
Hoffman came back to TeleRep a
decade later, this time in Atlanta. His first
GM job was at WFTV-WRDQ Orlando in
2002, then WSB in 2006.

WSB is a monster in DMA No. 8, grabbing
the lion’s share of revenue against
stations owned by Fox, Gannett and Meredith.
When the other three partnered on
a content share last spring, WSB declined
the invitation, with Hoffman stressing the
importance of WSB’s independence.

The station thrives on its extraordinarily
established anchors and rock-solid
Action News format. “The content surrounding
those anchors has been very
consistent over the past couple of decades,”
Hoffman says. “People know what
experience they’re going to get when they
watch Channel 2.”

Hoffman’s upbeat nature also helps
keep WSB on top. “Bill is an exceedingly
positive guy—I’ve never heard a discouraging
word from him,” Pruitt says. “He’s
a great guy to share a beer with, or a drift
boat if you’re fly-fishing for trout.”

Cox thought enough of Hoffman’s
management skills to name him VP of
the Media Group; he now studies the 15
Cox stations for best practices, works out
group syndication deals and oversees the
Washington bureau.

A recent article in the Atlanta Journal-
, in which WXIA News Director
Ellen Crooke derided local news
as “boring, repetitive, irrelevant and too
depressing,” made waves in Atlanta’s
newsrooms. Hoffman staunchly disputes
Crooke’s account and expresses his faith
in the evolving news model. “People have
more contact with their station of choice
than they ever had before, and I think
that’s enormously exciting,” he says. “But
you have to manage a lot to be relevant,
constantly updating across the platforms.
It’s the absolute opposite of what that article

Hoffman is not one to shy from a challenge
to his livelihood. Pearson calls her
boss a “hockey nut,” and says his manner
at times resembles that of an NHL player:
aggressive and adrenaline-fueled, but not
enough to get pinged by the ref. “Bill’s a
very physical guy,” she explains. “I think
he likes the pressure.”

Hoffman escapes the pressure with
his wife, Joan, at the Montana log home
where they hike, bike and fish. “Some
people are beach people,” Hoffman says.
“We happen to be mountain people.”

He’s got multiple mountains to climb
in his various roles, but Hoffman says he’s
up for the challenge. Atlanta’s fatal floods
last September reminded him why he got
into the business in the first place. “It was
an opportunity for a television station to
step up and show the way,” Hoffman says,
“and we did an incredible job of superserving
the community and reinforcing
the strength of the station.”

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