TVN STATION GROUP OF THE YEAR

The GMs Powering Fox Television Stations

As TVNewsCheck honors Fox Television Stations as its TV Station Group of the Year with a three-part special report, here is a who's who of the people on the front line of responsiblity for the performance of each of the group's 28 outlets. Part 1 focused on the station group's strategy going forward as a crucial component of New Fox. Part 2 offered a profile of FTS CEO Jack Abernethy. You can read those stories here.

 

While the Fox Television Stations group has benefitted from the vision and oversight provided by corporate executives, it is the local leaders in the trenches at each of the 28 stations who can take credit for implementing much of the innovation that has led to their successes. Things like steadily increasing the hours of live, local news and other programming they offer. What follows is a Who’s Who of the men and women, who as general managers, keep the focus on moving forward.

Lew Leone | WNYW-WWOR NEW YORK | DMA 1

Prior to becoming head of the Fox flagship duopoly in 2005, Leone spent three years at WCBS New York as GM and three years as the VP of sales at WNBC. In 1998, he was the NBC network’s VP of sports and Olympics sales. He was promoted to this position after serving as WNBC’s local sales manager for two years.

Leone also was an account executive for ABC Sports Sales from 1993 to 1996. His resume includes working as sales manager for Capital Cities/ABC National Television Sales in St. Louis and account executive for both ABC National Sales in Chicago and WABC New York.

Robert Cook | KTTV-KCOP LOS ANGELES | DMA 2

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He has led the Los Angles Fox-MNT duopoly since August of 2015. Formerly, Cook was president of a media marketing and entertainment consulting business in Beverly Hills that he formed in 2010 called MBN Inc.

In 2000 Cook was named president of 20th Television and oversaw all the domestic television syndication business for the Fox studios. Before joining 20th, Cook was EVP of CBS Enterprises and King World Productions. Earlier, he was SVP of marketing for Columbia TriStar Television, EVP of Guber-Peters Television and station manager of KPXG Portland, Ore.

Dennis Welsh | WFLD-WPWR CHICAGO | DMA 3

Welsh has been Fox’s Chicago Fox-MNT duopoly boss since January 2013. Prior to Chicago, he was GM of the Fox stations in Orlando, Fla. Earlier with Fox, he was director of sales at KDFW-KDFI Dallas, Fox Sports Net Southwest and WNYW-WWOR New York and GSM at WJW. WJW was subsequently sold.

Before joining Fox, Welsh was GSM at WPRI and WNAC in Providence, R.I. In addition, he has held sales positions with WLWT Cincinnati, WPTT Pittsburgh, WPGH Pittsburgh, MMT Sales in Philadelphia, KDKA Pittsburgh and Branham Newspapers in New York.

Dennis Bianchi | WTXF PHILADELPHIA | DMA 4

Bianchi joined WTXF in February 2012. In addition to his VP-GM position, he is also GM of Fairfax Productions, which produces Chasing News, a newscast for Fox’s WWOR New York. Prior to joining WTXF, he was GM of WCAU Philadelphia. There, in addition to running WCAU, he oversaw NBC Philadelphia Nonstop, the around-the-clock local information and lifestyle channel.

Earlier in his career, Bianchi served as VP of finance and later chief financial officer for NBC Asia based in Hong Kong. He began his career with NBC in 1982 at the network’s then-owned station in Cleveland, and later worked with the network’s stations division in a number of financial management roles.

Kathy Saunders | KDFW & KDFI DALLAS | DMA 5

Saunders has been head of the Fox-MNT Dallas duo for 21 years and has been with the group for 29 years. Before Dallas, she was GM of WFXT Boston.

She began her career as an account executive with KCTV Kansas City, then joined the staff of WPGH Pittsburgh in 1981 as national and then general sales manager.

Patrick Paolini | WTTG-WDCA WASHINGTON | DMA 6

Paolini was named to his current post atop the Washington Fox-MNT duopoly in 2013. Prior to that, he was SVP of Fox Stations Sales. Earlier, he was GM of Fox’s WTXF Philadelphia, a position he held for two years. Previously, he was director of sales for the New York duopoly.

His earlier Fox positions include six years as GSM of WTTG-WDCA and one year as GSM at WTVT Tampa, Fla. Paolini spent more than three years with LIN Media, first as national sales manager of WTNH Hartford, Conn., and later as GSM of WIVB Buffalo, N.Y.

D’Artagnan Bebel | KRIV-KTXH HOUSTON | DMA 7

He has led the Fox-MNT duo in Houston since 2000. He was promoted into the job from Memphis where he was GM of WHBQ for two years.

Bebel began his broadcasting career as an account executive at WCBS-AM New York in 1984. He moved into TV in 1987 with KCBS Los Angeles, starting as an account executive and leaving in 1994 as director of sales. He joined Dispatch Broadcast Group in 1995 as VP-general sales manager, spending three years there before joining Fox in Memphis.

Gregg Kelley | KTVU-KICU SAN FRANCISCO | DMA 8

Before becoming the leader of the Fox-independent duopoly in 2014, Kelley was the GM of WFXT Boston and of WTTG Washington. He announced last week that he is retiring at the end of October. No successor has been announced yet.

Bill Schneider | WAGA ATLANTA | DMA 10

He has been the station’s top exec since 2012. Prior to that, he spent four years as GM of the group’s WTVT Tampa Bay. Schneider previously was GM of KDVR Denver. Before that, he was the director of sales at WAGA.

Earlier in Schneider’s career, he was the director of broadcast and corporate sales for the Atlanta Hawks NBA team under Turner Broadcasting System and an account executive WTBS Atlanta. Schneider began his career in broadcasting in sales at WZGC-FM Atlanta.

Jeff Maloney | WTVT TAMPA | DMA 11

Jeff Maloney has worked at Fox Television Stations for the last 24 years, eight years as the GM in Tampa. Prior to that, he was the station’s VP of sales and held positions of increasing responsibility in sales for KSTU, the then Fox-owned station in Salt Lake City.

Previously, he was with Katz Communications in Los Angeles. He began his career as a broadcasting negotiator for advertising agency J Walter Thompson.

Mark Rodman | KSAZ-KUTP PHOENIX | DMA 12

The 20-year Fox veteran has led the group’s Fox-MNT duo in Arizona since 2011, moving up from the GM post at the group’s KTBC Austin, Texas, which he joined in 2008. Rodman began his broadcasting career as a reporter and news producer before transitioning into the business side of television.

Over his 33-year career, he has held sales and management positions including five years as local and national sales managers at KTVX Salt Lake City. Prior to that, he held account executive positions at Telerep in New York and at WLNE Providence, R.I. He was also a reporter at WFTV Orlando, Fla., for two years. He began his career as a reporter/producer at WPTA Fort Wayne, Ind.

Mike Renda | WJBK DETROIT | DMA 14

The leader of the group’s Detroit outlet since January 2013 began his career in radio in 1977 at WOHO Toledo, Ohio. He moved to WTVG Toledo in 1978 as an account executive, joined Storer Television Sales in May 1979 in Chicago as a national sales rep. He transferred to Storer’s WJW Cleveland in 1982 and was promoted to GSM at the station in 1989. Renda next joined WLWT Cincinnati as GSM in 1992.

He returned to WJW Cleveland in 1997 as GM when Fox acquired the station and served there for 10 years. He moved to Fox’s WTXF Philadelphia as GM in April 2007 and then joined its WFLD-WPWR Chicago as GM in September 2009.

Sheila Oliver | KMSP-WFTC MINNEAPOLIS | DMA 15

She joined the Fox-MNT duopoly in 2003 as director of sales and was promoted to GM in 2014. Prior to going to the Twin Cities, she was GM of KSAZ-KUTP, the Fox-owned duopoly in Phoenix.

Previously, she spent three years as GM of WCGV-WVTV, the Sinclair duopoly in Milwaukee. She was also GM of WTVR Richmond, Va., and WUPW Toledo, Ohio. She began her broadcast career at WJLB-FM in Detroit, her hometown.

Allyson Meyers | WOFL-WRBW ORLANDO & WOGX GAINESVILLE | DMAS 18 & 157

Following a career in sports advertising sales at Madison Square Garden in New York, she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to assist in the start-up of Sports Channel Florida, now Fox Sports. Following her seven-year tenure in sports advertising sales, she additionally served consecutive tenures as national sales manager, general sales manager and station manager with Tribune Broadcasting.

In 2010, she accepted a position as GSM with Fox’s WTXF Philadelphia. After three years there, she returned to Florida, where she was promoted to GM of the Fox Orlando Fox-MNT duopoly as well as of WOGX Gainesville, Fla.

Mike McClain | WJZY-WMYT CHARLOTTE | DMA 23

The veteran broadcast executive was named GM of the Fox Charlotte duopoly on Oct. 16, joining the duopoly from Fox’s WAGA Atlanta where he was VP-news director, a position he has held form the last eight years. He succeeded Kieran Clarke who had led the stations since August 2015.

Prior to joining WAGA, McClain spent 27 years with WBRC Birmingham, Ala., beginning his TV career there as a news photographer, working in a variety of positions before becoming VP-news director in 2007, a position he held for nearly six years.

Michael Lewis | KTBC AUSTIN | DMA 40

Prior to being named head of the Austin station in 2011, Lewis was GSM at Fox’s KRIV-KTXH Houston and WHBQ Memphis. He began his career with Fox in 2002 as national sales manager at WTTG-WDCA Washington and was promoted to local sales manager in 2003.

Earlier in his career, Lewis held sales positions at Clear Channel Television in Tulsa, Okla. He began his career as an account executive at WXXA Albany, N.Y.

This is the final installment of a three-part special report. Part 1 focused on the station group’s strategy going forward as a crucial component of New Fox. Part 2 put the spotlight on Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy. You can read the other parts here.


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