WLS-TV names John Idler new president and GM

John Idler has been named President and General manager to succeed Emily Barr at ABC-owned WLS-TV here in Chicago.

Idler takes over the position immediately, from a similar post at ABC-owned WTVD in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Barr left WLS a few weeks ago in order to take an executive position with Post-Newsweek TV station group, succeeding retiring Alan Frank. Idler takes over a station that’s dominated the local ratings for 26 years (in comparison, WTVD is a runner-up behind dominant CBS affiliate WRAL-TV, but ahead of every other outlet in Raleigh.)

Ironically, Barr is also an WTVD alum, having served as GM from 2004-07.

This isn’t Idler’s first stint at WLS: he was a sales executive there in 1998; then shifted to WTVD in 2000 and back to WLS in 2004 as general sales manager. He was promoted to GM of WTVD in 2007. Idler has had sales stints at NBC’s owned stations division, Tribune Broadcasting, and at Telerep/Cox.

Idler has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s Degree from the University of New Haven.

Trivia: WTVD, a former CBS affiliate, has been an ABC-owned station since 1985, when former owner Capital Cities merged with ABC. On August 4, 1985, WTVD and then-ABC affiliate WRAL swapped affiliations. Since the swap, WRAL has been constantly one of CBS’ highest affiliates – but ABC has also been successful with WTVD, being very competitive with WRAL. Both WRAL and WTVD have also affiliated with NBC in the past.