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Despite all the noise out there about the industry being upended, Paul Karpowicz remains one of local TV’s biggest boosters.
“I think the future for broadcasting remains very bright,” said the president of Meredith’s Local Media Group. Just as noteworthy: Karpowicz is utterly sincere in the declaration.
The 2017 Golden Mike Award honoree is, after all, a broadcasting guy through-and-through—a family trait he picked up from his dad, Ray, the Missouri Broadcasters Hall of Famer who ran St. Louis NBC affiliate KSDK and later the Pulitzer station group.
Other than briefly toying with the idea of attending law school after graduating from Notre Dame (“Then I realized it would be a lot more school work and more studying than I really wanted to do,” he said), Karpowicz has been in the local broadcasting business his entire professional life, which started in St. Louis radio.
Throughout those 40-plus years, Karpowicz has been steadfastly focused on shaping and shepherding the TV stations under his watch, as well as the larger industry, through times of enormous change, none more so than during the last decade of tech-driven upheaval.
“I like to say I have really had a front row seat at the changes and developments and advancements of the broadcast industry,” he said. “When you look at how dramatically our industry changed just over the last five years, it’s day and night.”
Karpowicz has watched the industry evolve from every level of the broadcast ranks. He had general manager stints at WLNE Providence, R.I., and WISH Indianapolis, before moving up to a group-level job in 1994, when he became VP of LIN Television. Under Karpowicz’s watch, LIN nearly doubled in size, growing from 12 to 23 stations.
Since taking the Meredith station group’s top job in 2005, Karpowicz has been equally successful growing the size and stature of its affiliates. During his tenure, Meredith has added stations in markets including Phoenixand St. Louis, bringing its total to 17.
The group has nearly quadrupled its news hours over the last few years, Karpowicz says. Today, the stations produce a total of 650 hours of local content per week. Meredith is also committed to fostering and furthering its stations’ digital presence—which Karpowiczsees as an integral, yet not incongruous, part of local TV—and retaining its viability as “the kind of lifeline to the community.
“Since we do have this [stature] as a trusted source of news, it’s only logical that we would have an extension on another platform,” he said.
“We represent brands that have existed for 60-plus years and they are very very strong,” he added. “It’s incumbent upon us to reinforce how important we are via the ability to cover these local markets.”
Karpowicz is equally committed to advancing the larger industry, and has been recognized for his leadership with honors beyond the Golden Mike, including induction into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2010.
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Karpowicz currently serves as chairman of BMI’s board of directors, and sits on the Broadcasters Foundation of America and the National Association of Broadcasters Television boards, the latter of which he used to chair. He also has chaired the CBS affiliates and TVB boards, and served on the NAB and Rhode Island and Indiana broadcaster associations’ executive committees.
Jim Thompson, the Broadcaster Foundation’s president, says that sort of investment in boosting the industry epitomizes the very best of the business, which is exactly what the Golden Mike Award honors.
“We have had quite a group of recipients, and they have all been someone who has been a leader in the community,” Thompson said. “No one fits that better than Paul Karpowicz.
Karpowicz is equally admiring of the foundation’s work in helping broadcasters in need. “It’s amazing,” he said. “We hear some of the stories about people who due to no fault of their own have fallen on hard times. And sometimes it’s just the check they get from the Broadcasters Foundation that can keep them afloat and give them hope and the opportunity to have a good life.”
It’s that sort of allegiance to the industry, and to each other, that Karpowicz believes is key to broadcasting’s future, and its ability to remain alive and well despite any and all notions that the medium is being turned upside-down.
“Because [broadcasters] are committed to the industry, committed to the marketplace and committed to viewers, we’ll figure it out,” he said, “and be nimble and creative enough to make sure these properties we represent will continue to not only survive but to thrive in whatever this new age represents.”