On her last day as president and general manager of WLS Chicago, Emily Barr is sad to depart the ABC group she's called home for almost two decades, but very excited about taking over the Post-Newsweek group in July, when she'll work with President/CEO Alan Frank before he retires at the end of the year.
Barr, 54, will remain based in Chicago, while Frank is in Detroit. While she says it's way too early to discuss strategy for Post-Newsweek, Barr will travel the country, visiting the group's six markets, and getting a feel for how the stations operate. The stations include WDIV Detroit, WJXT Jacksonville, WPLG Miami, KPRC Houston, WKMG Orlando and KSAT San Antonio.
"They're real strong television stations that know how to serve their local communities -- I'll learn from them what they do," she says. "It's a strong group of general managers running some real strong stations. I look forward to learning from them."
The ABC-owned television stations have become a prime pipeline for group chief talent. Besides Barr, Rebecca Campbell, former WABC New York GM, and Valari Staab, former KGO San Francisco GM, have been elevated to group president roles: Campbell at ABC and Staab at NBC.
Barr, who headed up ABC's Live Well Network in addition to market leader WLS, has been sought after as a station group leader for years. She joined the company as WTVD Raleigh GM in 1994 and took over WLS in 1997. Barr says departing ABC is "very bittersweet."
"I am really, really honored to have been here as long as I have been with this company," she says. "I can't say enough good about this company. It's a great place to work and a great place to learn."
Barr will enjoy several weeks off, which will include family time, travel, and perhaps planting a few tomato plants, she says.
Frank was B&C's Broadcaster of the Year in 2005, will be an inductee into the magazine's Hall of Fame later this year, and was awarded the Golden Mike by the Broadcasters Foundation of America in 2011. He turns 68 next month and would not elaborate on what life after Post-Newsweek holds, though he did tell B&C he'll stay in Detroit. "I have a lot of thoughts about things I'd like to do going forward but really won't start getting into it until I've handed things over to Emily," Frank said via email. "I will stay in Detroit. We have many friends and do love living there."
Barr knows she's following a tough act. "I look forward to stepping in and working with Alan," she says, "and filling part of those big shoes."