WTHR GM departs

Rich Pegram has resigned from NBC affiliate WTHR-TV in Indianapolis after 13 years. The move comes as WTHR is trying to fend off rival CBS affiliate WISH-TV for the number one slot.

During his tenure, WTHR went from a fourth-place laughingstock (a stigma it had since it signed on in 1957) to a top-rated news leader, a move that was cemented in 1999, when it dethroned WISH for the city’s news crown.

But WISH’s ratings have surged lately, thanks to CBS’ strong prime-time lineup and is the regular-season home of the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts (CBS has the contract to AFC games and the Colts are an AFC team.)

WTHR is stuck with a struggling NBC prime-time lineup, which places fourth nationally.

There were reports that Pegram did not take too kindly to new management at Dispatch Broadcast Group, which owns WTHR and top-rated CBS affiliate WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio.

Already, WISH and ABC affiliate WRTV are already gaining on WTHR so far in the November sweeps period.

Trivia: A lot of people knows this already, but it’s worth noting – late-night talk show host David Letterman was a weatherman at WTHR (then called WLWI-TV) in the 1970’s. WTHR was an ABC affiliate until 1979, when WRTV owner McGraw-Hill switched its WRTV and KGTV in San Diego from a struggling NBC to ABC, leaving WTHR with the NBC affiliation. Then, as it is now, NBC is in the network basement. But don’t look for an affiliation switch anytime soon at WTHR.