WMAQ general manager Larry Wert is leaving the NBC O&O for a top job at Tribune Co. Wert will be the president of local broadcasting, overseeing strategy and opreations for 23 television stations and Chicago-based WGN Radio, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Wert will report to Peter Liguori, who stepped into the CEO role after the company emerged from bankruptcy last month.
“Our TV assets are an incredibly important part of the Tribune Co. We wanted to bring someone on board who had the breadth of experience, the depth of relationships and the energy to take innovations and get them across the goal line,” Ligouri said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I just felt that we could take these local broadcast stations and really supercharge them behind Larry’s expertise and stewardship.”
Wert, a Chicago native, has been president and general manager of WMAQ since 1998. In 2008, he was named president of NBC Local Media’s central and western region, overseeing KNTV in San Francisco, KNBC in Los Angeles, KNSD in San Diego and KXAS in Dallas in addition to WMAQ. In 2011, NBC named Wert executive vice president of station initiatives for the 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 Broadcasting & Cable. “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.”
Rumors of Wert’s departure from WMAQ began last week. In his new job, he will remain based in Chicago.
>Update: NBC Owned Television Stations President Valari Staab has released a statement:
This is a rare and exciting opportunity for Larry to run a broadcast group and stay in his hometown of Chicago. 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.