NBC, Tribune appoint new executives

Also: Colin Cowherd comes to Chicago

A pair of exec hires were announced on Tuesday:

David Doebler was named president and general manager of WMAQ-TV here, replacing Larry Wert, who is now head of Tribune’s station group. Doebler comes over from sister NBC-owned station WVIT in Hartford-New Haven Conn. During his eight-year tenure, WVIT (on Channel 30) was competitive with CBS affiliate WFSB and ABC affiliate WTNH, the latter often trading second and third place with WVIT.

One of the five original Viacom stations, NBC purchased WVIT in 1997.

Doebler began his career in the sales department at WCAU in Philadelphia, then owned by CBS (NBC acquired the station in 1995 by swapping its Denver, Salt Lake City, and the Channel 4 frequency in Miami to CBS for the station.) He later became vice-president of sales for NBC’s WNCN in Raleigh-Durham, and then promoted to president and general manager at the company’s WTVM in Birmingham, Ala.

In 2006, WNCN and WTVM were among four stations sold to Media General.

Tribune announced an executive appointment of its own: the company named Matt Cheriss president and general manager of WGN America and of the newly reformed Tribune Studios. In addition, Cheriss will oversee projects at Tribune’s 23 television stations, including WGN-TV. Under Cheriss, Tribune plans to develop more original programming for the station group and WGN America in order to raise each entity’s profile. Current Tribune production The Bill Cunningham Show and two co-productions with CBS (The Test and Arsenio Hall) will fall under the Tribune Studios banner.

Cheriss’ hire reunites him Tribune CEO Peter Ligouri, who worked with him at Fox and FX, where he oversaw program development. Cheriss was most recently a senior VP of production at Warner Bros., developing upcoming theatricals 300: Rise Of Empire and Mail Order Groom.

Guess what piece of sewage is washing up on the shores of Lake Michigan… it’s none other than controversial ESPN talk show host Colin Cowherd, who begins on ESPN 1000 (WMVP-AM) on April 1. Rather than subjecting listeners to his daily three-hour syndicated tour of nonsense (yours truly would rather be on a boat with Gilligan for that length of time), ESPN 1000 is only scheduled to air Cowherd from 9-10 a.m. Cowherd’s arrival means a schedule realignment: Carmen & Jurko shifts to a midday slot from afternoons (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and Waddle & Silvy relocates to afternoons (2-6 p.m.).

The changes come as ESPN 1000 is currently on a downward ratings spiral. In the most recent PPM period, WMVP finished 29th overall and in the ratings period before that, finished 18th among men 25-54, while archrival WSCR-AM finished first in the key demo (both WSCR and WMVP declined in February due to the conclusion of football season.)

Cowherd is no stranger to controversy: he often slams Midwestern and Southern sports teams, further fueling ESPN’s “perceived” bias toward East Coast teams (and the Lakers). Recently, Cowherd slammed Indianapolis sports fans for being racist because of low attendance at Indiana Pacers games, who are in first place in the NBA’s Central Division (the majority of Pacers players are African-American.) Cowherd believed its related to the fallout from the Pacers’ involvement in the “Malice At The Palace” against the Detroit Pistons in 2004, a black eye the NBA is still recovering from.

Since Chicago radio is already home to nutcases Mancow and former Rep. Joe Walsh, Cowherd should fit in the Windy City just fine. I guess anything worse than a three hour tour with Cowherd is spending three seasons shipwrecked with him on Gilligan’s Island.