Made in Michigan, Making It Big in Manhattan

Wertlieb thriving in elevated role with Hearst TV—and NBC

Why This Matters

Jordan Wertlieb


Executive VP, Hearst TV


B.A., Communications and Political Science, University of Michigan, 1986

Employment Highlights:

Research analyst, Katz Communications, 1986-89

Account executive, Katz, 1989-93

National sales manager, WCVB Boston, 1993-98

Local sales manager, WCVB, 1998-99

General sales manager, WBAL Baltimore, 1999- 2005

President/GM, WBAL, 2005-11

Current title since 2011


b. Aug. 9, 1964; wife, Kathy; children Emily, 18; Blake, 15; Caroline, 12. Dogs Annie and Bo; cat Margaret.

Overseeing a massive station group, Jordan
Wertlieb spends much of his time flying into the
Hearst Television markets, meeting with staffers
and breaking bread with station managers. He’s not particularly fussy about where
they take him to eat—it can even be a
food stand—but Wertlieb has one vital

“It has to be a locally
owned business,”
Wertlieb says as he recalls
delectable fried
chicken out in Okarche,
Okla., and unforgettable
barbecue down in
Winston-Salem, N.C.
“I think local is fun.
It’s fun to see what gets
people excited.”

While he moved to
a corporate role almost
two years ago, and an
office with the Manhattan skyline glimmering
outside his 39th floor window,
Wertlieb will never lose his taste for local
television’s connection to the community.
Recent news events such as Election Day
and Superstorm Sandy have only reinforced
his belief that local broadcast plays
a vital role in the nation’s well being.

“Its demise has been so overly reported,”
Wertlieb says. “It’s just amazing
how television has reinvented and
reinvigorated itself after people have
written it off.”

Wertlieb determined his career path
as a teen. His high school in the New
York suburbs had a television station,
where he learned all aspects of the craft.
Coupled with indelible memories of major
news events, such as John Lennon’s
murder, Wertlieb left high school with a
clear picture of his future.

At the University of Michigan, he was program director at the school radio
station and did play-by-play for several
sports, including Michigan’s famed football
program. While
Wertlieb has the size of
a Wolverines lineman,
his athleticism wasn’t
quite Big-Ten caliber.
“At Michigan, you have
to be big and fast,” he
says with a laugh.

But Wertlieb wholeheartedly
bought into
the school’s code of
honor—that a “Michigan
Man” was one of
integrity. The Michigan
influence is all over
the Wertlieb home; his wife, Kathy, also
graduated from Michigan, and the dogs
are named Annie, as in Arbor, and Bo,
as in Schembechler. (“Do not speak ill
of Michigan in his presence!” warns a
Hearst TV colleague.)

Wertlieb started with Hearst TV in
1993, selling for WCVB Boston. His
managers at the time recall him as
whip-smart and driven. “With every
assignment, he raised the bar,” says Bill
Fine, president and general manager at
WCVB. “He always targeted bigger and
better things.”

Wertlieb moved on to general sales
manager at WBAL Baltimore and was
promoted to general manager in 2005.
His stellar listening skills and infectious
energy, say WBAL vets, not to mention
signature partnerships he ironed
out with the Baltimore Ravens and the
Maryland Lottery, furthered WBAL’s
elite status in Baltimore.

One fond, if chilly, Maryland memory
for Wertlieb is plunging into the frigid
Chesapeake to raise money for the Special
Olympics—an annual event, sponsored
by WBAL and its sister radio stations,
that took off to the point where
Baltimore luminaries, including Ravens
quarterback Joe Flacco, Governor Martin
O’Malley and Wertlieb, took the plunge.

After he’d promoted Wertlieb to executive
vice president, David Barrett,
Hearst TV president and CEO, suggested
an official WBAL handoff—with Wertlieb
and incoming general manager Dan
Joerres jumping in together. “I came out
as the old general manager, and he came
out as the new one,” Wertlieb says.

Barrett believes he has a rising star in
his group chief. “I think Jordan is the best
and brightest next-generation television
executive in our industry,” Barrett says.
“He leads, he inspires and he challenges.
He has that precious management gift to
help others be better and succeed.”

Like his boss, Wertlieb is immersed
in industry leadership roles, including
chairman of the influential NBC affiliates
board and director on the NAB board.

Watching the measured manner in
which local New York-area broadcasters
reported on Sandy—as if he needed a
reminder of that frightful day, his office
offers an unhindered view of the stricken
crane that hovered ominously over 57th
Street during the storm—gave Wertlieb
yet another reminder for why he believes
it’s an optimal time to be in broadcasting.

“I think the business has recently
been underestimated and maybe even
underappreciated, but it keeps resurfacing,”
Wertlieb says. “People keep coming
back and saying, that’s why I love my local
television station. To me, television is
cool again.”

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