Station Stars Shift to Consulting

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While the big local-TV consulting firms have always grabbed execs from TV stations, it seems there’s been a boom in the trend of late. Earlier this week, CJ&N landed former KRON San Francisco President/General Manager Mark Antonitis, and going back a few weeks, SmithGeiger grabbed former WFLD Chicago News Director Andrew Finlayson.

Finlayson followed former KCTV Kansas City News Director Tracy Brogden Miller and former KGMB Honolulu newsroom chief Chris Archer over to SmithGeiger; both joined in April.

What’s driving the little trend? It may be as simple as the fact that the consulting firms are hiring more now than they have in recent years.

CJ&N Principal Bruce Northcott says it’s rare for the firms to grab someone at the GM level. “It’s more common to hire a news or programming executive [from a station],” he says. “It’s fairly rare for a general manager to do that sort of thing.”

Northcott and Antonitis go back a ways; Northcott hired him as a consultant years ago while at Frank N. Magid. Having run KRON, Antonitis has some insights on how to remake stations in challenging economic environments; among other things, he pushed the VJ model in San Francisco years before it got trendy, and implemented an independent mindset at the station after it lost its NBC affiliation for a MyNet one.

“He fits what we see as our clients’ demands,” says Northcutt. “But above and beyond all else, Mark is an idea factory.” 

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