Tribune TV Names Creative Service Heads

With the bold claim that it will “blow up” the traditional TV playbook, Tribune announced Tuesday (June 29) it would restructure its creative service functions at its TV stations. The first step in that process was naming two Tribune TV staffers to the newly created positions of regional vice presidents for innovation and imagination.

In their new posts, John Zeigler, the former director of creative services for WPIX-TV in New York, and Carrie King, the former director of creative services for WGN America, will help Tribune’s 23 stations establish a new look, feel and sound. Zeigler will head up the eastern region and King will head up the central region. The company is searching for a regional vp for the western division.

The new positions are the latest brainchild of Lee Abrams, Tribune’s chief innovation officer, who was brought on board by CEO Randy Michaels to shake up Tribune’s former, staid, corporate culture and encourage risk-taking.

Abrams is looking for big, sweeping changes. “Incremental change at our television stations won’t get it done,” Abrams said in a statement. “We have to be radically and noticeably different, we have to imagine TV and TV news in a totally new way, one that breaks through and reinvents the decades old, tired TV playbook.”

The eastern division includes Hartford, Harrisburg, New York, Philadelphia, South Florida and Washington, D.C. The central division is made up of Chicago, Dallas, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Houston and New Orleans, and also includes WGN America.

While Tribune is busy declaring revolution, it’s also busy trying to emerge from bankruptcy. Tribune, which also owns newspapers such as The Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, declared bankruptcy in Dec. 2008, one year after Sam Zell took the company private saddling it with $8.7 billion in debt.

The restructuring plan calls for Tribune to be taken over by its lenders, a proposal that is tied up by disagreements among its creditors.