Tribune Taps NBCU Veteran Larry Wert to Head Local Broadcasting

Chicago-based exec to oversee company's 23 TV stations, WGN Radio; report directly to new CEO Liguori
Author:
Publish date:

NBCU veteran broadcasting executive Larry Wert
has been named president of local broadcasting for Tribune Company, where he
will direct strategy and operations of Tribune's 23 local television stations
and WGN Radio in Chicago. He will report
directly to Tribune's newly-installed CEO Peter Liguori and continue to be
based in Chicago. Wert's start date
has not yet been set.

A
Chicago native, Wert, who has more than 30
years of broadcasting experience, has been with NBCU for 15 years and most
recently served as president/GM of WMAQ in Chicago and executive VP, station
initiatives, NBC Owned Stations.

wertRTtight.jpg

Nils
Larsen, president of Tribune Broadcasting, will assist Wert in the transition
to his new position with Tribune, according to a company news release.

The
move quashes any remaining speculation that Tribune is considering getting out of the TV
station business under its new leadership and now that it is out of bankruptcy.

A
Chicago native, Wert joined WMAQ as president/GM in January 1998. In April 2008, he was named
president, central and western region, NBC Local Media, overseeing five NBC owned
television stations: KNBC in Los Angeles, KNTV in San Francisco, KNSD in San Diego, KXAS in Dallas and WMAQ in Chicago.  In September
2011, he was named exec VP, station initiatives for NBC owned stations.

"I
grew up here, I spent most of my career here so I respect the great legacy of
the Tribune co. I'm familiar with their great assets," Wert told B&C. "Their station
footprint is significant in 36% of the country. I think there's an opportunity
right now to be part of its future in a very positive way."

"Larry's
talent, creativity, and broad television, digital and radio experience make him
the ideal person to lead our local broadcasting and radio businesses," Liguori
said in a statement. "Larry is also a skilled manager of people, an innovative
programmer, and understands the important role our local TV news operations
play in the communities we serve."

At
WMAQ, Wert led the station's integration with Telemundo. Under his leadership
the country's first bi-lingual co-located newsroom was unveiled in 2002. In
addition, in December 2003, he led the launch of Chicago's first television
broadcast street side studio at 401 N. Michigan
Avenue, now known as Studio 5, according to a
Tribune release.

Among
Wert's professional claims to fame are having fired two big personalities,
Howard Stern and Jerry Springer (he canceled the latter's show on WMAQ when he
arrived at the station).

Wert
says he's grateful for the support his bosses -- Valari Staab, Ted Harbert and
Steve Burke -- at NBCU have provided him in his role and in making the decision
to move on to Tribune. "Ironically I will be a pretty big customer of NBCU -- so
I won't be completely away," he said, noting that Tribune stations license
multiple NBCU syndicated properties including Jerry
Springer
Maury and Wilkos.
"There's no doubt NBC Chicago is on an upswing. I will miss the equity I have
with my colleagues. But this new opportunity in my hometown is too unique to say
no to."

Valari Staab, president of NBC Owned Television Stations, saluted the longtime WMAQ GM. "This is a rare and exciting opportunity for Larry to run a broadcast group and stay in his hometown of Chicago," she said. "I greatly appreciate his dedication and have truly enjoyed working with him over the last 18 months. I wish him the very best in his new role."

Wert,
56, got his start in the industry at Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago in 1978. He went on
to spend ten years with ABC in TV Sales in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, and then to WLS (Chicago) as local sales manager. 

In
1989, Wert was named president and GM of Evergreen's "The Loop" and AM 1000 in Chicago. In 1996, he was
named president of Evergreen Media Corporation when it merged with Chancellor
Broadcasting.  He was promoted to senior VP, overseeing Chancellor's 13
radio properties in Chicago and Detroit before joining WMAQ.

Related