Freedom taps Wade for TV

Alan Bell becomes president and CEO of parent company

Veteran Freedom Broadcasting station manager Doreen Wade has been promoted to president of the group, succeeding Alan Bell. Three weeks ago, Bell himself was promoted to the top job at the parent company, president and CEO of Freedom Communications, after about a decade of running the company's TV broadcast group.

"This is the fourth time I've promoted Doreen," says Bell. "She's been a key player on the finest team of TV managers I've ever assembled."

Wade joined Freedom in 1978 at WLNE(TV) Providence, where she worked her way through the sales ranks into management and finally to VP and general manager in 1995. A year later, she moved to WRGB(TV) Albany, N.Y., which she ran until 1999, when she was promoted to VP and general manager of WPEC(TV) West Palm Beach, Fla.

Wade will remain in West Palm Beach but says she will hire someone shortly to run the station so she can focus on the group. She will concentrate initially on looking for ways to boost revenue at the eight-station group but also make sure the stations remain dedicated to "community service and strong journalism."

Joe Coscia, who worked for Wade as her news director at WLNE and WRGB, and then competed against her in his current position as news director for Hearst-Argyle's WPBF(TV) Tequesta, Fla., said, "I'm a big fan of Doreen's. She's talented, a good competitor, and she's good for the business."

Bell, who is 70, finds himself in the position of ramping up his career duties while many executives his age are winding down. Freedom, a privately owned newspaper and TV company is going through a transition of its own. Essentially, one generation of the controlling Hoiles family wants to cash out, and the younger generation is trying to figure out the most efficient way to buy them out. All options are being considered, including going public, sources say.

The company's board asked Bell to take a bigger role in August after losing confidence in the previous CEO, Sam Wolgemuth.

"If anyone told me I would be in this position just a few weeks ago, I would have laughed it off," says Bell, noting that he has been struggling with himself to "press the button and get out."

He hasn't bailed out yet "because I love doing it." Now, he says, "I'm going to love to doing it more."