WGN-TV looks Easterly for new GM hire

WGN-TVA man named Easterly is heading west to become WGN-TV’s new general manager.

Tribune Broadcasting announced Monday the hiring of Greg Easterly as president and general manager of WGN-TV, moving over from the same capacity at WJW-TV in Cleveland effective April 14.

Easterly is a seventeen-year veteran of the Cleveland Fox affiliate, with a news background. He spent the first ten years at WJW as news director. Historically the market’s news leader, Easterly has helped keep WJW at or near the top of the ratings heap for the last seven years as president and GM (and did so without gimmicks such as…The Puppet’s Court,  which one local station did to illustrate the Jimmy Dimora trial.)

Since ending its 39-year affiliation with CBS in September 1994 to join Fox (as part of the Fox-New World megadeal, in which WJW was owned by the latter), the station has expanded its local news and entertainment programming – and more so under Easterly, currently programming 71 hours a week – the most local output of any local station in Cleveland. WJW and WGN became sister stations last fall when Tribune bought Local TV, WJW’s previous owner.

Easterly is joining a station who is riding a bit of a hot streak in news – WGN’s buzzworthy morning show tops the market from 6-9 a.m. in the key 25-54 demo. Meanwhile, its 9 p.m. newscast is not only beating rival WFLD, but often draws more viewers locally than several prime-time network dramas.

Easterly succeeds Marty Wilke, who left to fill the same cacapity at WBBM-TV eighteen months ago. While Easterly will be running WGN-TV and CLTV, he will not be running WGN America – Matt Cherniss was tapped to run the Tribune “superstation” a few months ago.

Among the first order of business for Mr. Easterly: Trying to keep the Chicago Cubs in the WGN-TV fold after this season, given the team’s long-term contract with the stations expires in September.