NBC Chicago names Ramirez, Harrison to news executive positions

Sally Ramirez (left) and Akemi Harrison are named new news executives at WMAQ/WSNS. (NBCUniversal)

NBC’s over-the-air duopoly in Chicago Monday named two new executives to lead their news operation

Chicago’s NBC stations announced some executive moves on Monday:

Sally Ramirez was named into a newly created position of Senior Vice President of news for both NBC’s WMAQ and Telemundo’s WSNS, who both share NBCUniversal as a owner. A native of Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, Ramirez comes over from sister business news channel CNBC as she formerly produced the now-canceled The News With Shepard Smith. Ramirez reports to NBCUniversal Local Chicago President Kevin Cross. 

“Sally is an exceptional leader with the strategic vision, experience and passion to guide our talented news teams and continue to innovate how we produce and deliver our extensive local journalism and storytelling in both languages,” said Cross. “We’re excited to welcome her home to Chicago and add her to our already remarkable group of news professionals who proudly serve our diverse communities throughout the Chicago region every day.”

Ramirez began at WMAQ as an intern and later became executive news producer at WGN-TV. From there, she spent two decades in local news in a variety of roles, including Tegna NBC affiliate KGW-TV in Portland, Ore. and the company’s CBS affiliate KHOU in Houston, where she served as executive news director. Ramirez attended Whitney Young High School and graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications. 

Also on the move at NBC Chicago is Akemi Harrison, who is being promoted from Assistant News Director to News Director, replacing the recently retired Frank Whittaker in the role. Harrison has held the assistant ND director since August 2021, the same role she held at NBC O&O sister station WVIT in Hartford, Conn. A native of Jackson, Miss., Harrison began her career in radio before joining hometown ABC affiliate WAPT in 2008 as a news producer. She later held roles for TV stations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Sacramento. Harrison is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and received an Emmy for her work on WMAQ’s documentary The Lost Story of Emmett Till: Trial in the Delta.

“Akemi is a dynamic news manager and operator,” said Cross. “She is an integral part of our leadership team who has displayed tremendous knowledge and skill in our newsroom since joining our station nearly two years ago. We are pleased to expand her role and broaden her responsibilities so that she can have an even greater impact on our news, our colleagues and our audiences.”

The news comes on the same day a former WMAQ news director was named as President of Allen Media Broadcasting as Princell Hair is taking the reins. Hair was previously president of Black News Channel, which Allen acquired last year out of bankruptcy. Headed by Byron Allen, the group owns 27 stations in markets including Rockford NBC affiliate WREX and Honolulu; Carbondale, Ill. ABC affiliate WSIL; and Honolulu ABC affiliate KITV (and their two related satellite stations), among others.  


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