Was in position since January 2013
After nearly a decade at the helm, Fox 32 and My50 General Manager Dennis Walsh has called it a career, announcing his retirement after 26 years at Fox Television Stations with the last nine at the duopoly of WFLD and My Network TV’s WPWR.
Welsh is stepping down at the end of the month – at the same time another longtime Fox 32 personality is as political reporter Mike Flannery recently announced his retirement.
“We would like to thank Dennis for his hard work and dedication to Fox Television Stations over the past 26 years,” Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy said in a statement. “His extensive knowledge of the broadcast industry and strategic approach to our business made him a valuable asset to FTS and he will be greatly missed. We wish him all the best in his retirement. “
“After 40 years in television, it is time for my next journey, which will include lots of travelling with my wife, Kellie,” Welsh said. “Spending the last 26 years in five different leadership roles at Fox Television Stations (FTS) has been the thrill of a lifetime. I’m thankful to Jack Abernethy who offered me the amazing opportunity to lead two different Fox TV Stations and for all his support over the years. Spending the last 10 years working with such a passionate and talented group focused on serving the Chicago community has been a true privilege. Although I look forward to the road ahead, I will sincerely miss all of the incredible relationships formed over a wonderful 26-year career with FTS.”
Welsh began his career at Westinghouse’s KDKA-TV Pittsburgh in sales before pivoting to MMT in Philadelphia, a TV sales rep firm. He later went to sales positions at stations in Cleveland, Dallas, and Fox Stations Sales in New York before being named VP and GM of Fox’s Orlando duopoly and came to Chicago in the same capacity when he was announced as the station’s new general manager in November 2012, where he succeeded Mike Renda.
During his tenure, Welsh kept WFLD competitive with other local stations in the market, despite trailing them in the ratings – notably at 9 p.m. where the station still trails WGN-TV’s news show. The station’s high mark came in November 2016, when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series right on his station, setting a 50-year household ratings record for WFLD and the local news also scoring its highest ratings ever since the operation launched in 1987. Welsh also helped increase revenue at the duopoly, no doubt through its strong Fox Sports lineup led by the Chicago Bears and their official partnership of the station.
On the other hand, the station was involved in “Hatgate” in January 2016, drawing criticism after a news producer circulated a memo saying female reporters on their morning news show shouldn’t wear hats in frigid weather conditions. And the station editorials Welsh gave did not resonate with viewers and were also controversial with pieces criticizing Cook County’s soda tax and then-mayor Rahm Emanuel. His tenure also saw the departure of longtime anchor Robin Robinson, who exited shortly after she was demoted to delivering “special reports” (such as the inane Chicago At The Tipping Point) and the exit of The CW for WCIU in 2019 after three low-rated years, reverting back to the My50 branding it used from 2006 to 2016.
Fox Television Stations hasn’t yet named a successor.