CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl Exiting Network After 26 Years

He's the third broadcast chief to depart in the past two months

Mark your calendar for Mediaweek, October 29-30 in New York City. We’ll unpack the biggest shifts shaping the future of media—from tv to retail media to tech—and how marketers can prep to stay ahead. Register with early-bird rates before sale ends!

Another broadcast president is departing.

Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, is leaving the network at the end of the year after five and a half years in the role.

Kahl has been with CBS for 26 years, and his successor will be Amy Reisenbach—currently evp, current programs, CBS.

The news was announced Wednesday in separate memos by Kahl and George Cheeks, president and CEO of CBS and COO of news and sports at Paramount+, with Cheeks saying the changes are “part of a restructuring and streamlining of leadership at CBS Entertainment.”

“Kelly is without peer in the broadcast television business. He is the architect of primetime schedules that have made CBS #1 for 19 of the last 20 seasons,” Cheeks wrote. “Kelly has been a fierce advocate for the vitality of broadcast television while being a steady and respected network leader through the good times as well as turbulent periods.”

Kahl, who joined CBS in 1996, spent much of his time at the network overseeing scheduling, helping vault series like Survivor, CSI and The Big Bang Theory to success. After taking over as CBS Entertainment president in 2017, he added hits like FBI and its spinoffs, as well as The Equalizer and Ghosts.

“CBS friends, the wondrous and improbable journey that started for me here 26 years ago has come to the finish line,” Kahl wrote. “It has been an absolute honor and privilege to work at CBS, America’s most watched network. (I’ll never get sick of hearing that.) I’ve lived a TV fan’s dream to work with the most talented writers, producers and actors in television. Most importantly, I’ve loved being in the trenches alongside all of you—the finest executives and employees in show business.” 

Reisenbach has been at CBS since 2005, and was named to her current role at CBS in June 2017.

“Amy is a brilliant, creative executive and an incredible, highly collaborative leader who has worked closely with all parts of the network and our studios partners for many years,” Cheeks said in a statement. “She is a passionate advocate for writers, producers and the creative process, with proven programming instincts for what it takes to make and sustain highly successful television series. She also continues to be a strong proponent for diversity and inclusion and a key figure in the advancements CBS has made in front of and behind the camera in this area.”

Last time Adweek caught up with Kahl, his top priorities for the network this season were “getting our existing shows back and up to full speed quickly, and then using the support from that” and then launching new shows. “The way they’re scheduled, the way they’re premiering and the way that’s all tiered out, that’s the plan. That’s the hope. So they go hand-in-hand.”

Also leaving his role at CBS by the end of the year is Thom Sherman, senior evp of programming. However, he will stay connected to the network with an overall producing deal spanning CBS Entertainment and CBS Studios, with Thom continuing to develop and produce programming for the CBS and other parts of Paramount.

Broadcast chief exodus

Kahl is the third broadcast chief to exit in the past two months, following Mark Pedowitz at The CW and Charlie Collier at Fox.

Pedowitz departed as Nexstar closed its acquisition of the network in October, and was replaced by Dennis Miller.

In a surprising move, Collier exited Fox Entertainment for Roku, where he took on the new role of president of Roku Media, starting in late October. Rob Wade, Fox Entertainment’s former president of alternative entertainment and specials, took over for Collier.