WCBS names Friedman to new VP post

NEW YORK — WCBS has tapped the former exec producer of “Today” and “NBC Nightly News” to again retool its lagging news operation.

The CBS O&O named Steve Friedman VP and station manager, a new post in which he’ll oversee the news and promo departments. Friedman, 50, has been on the street for the past year after ankling from now-defunct Savoy Pictures’ TV operations.

Friedman, 50, echoed comments of his new boss, CBS Television Stations prexy and WCBS G.M. Jonathan Klein, that “the station’s moving, but we don’t think it’s moving fast enough.” By February, when all CBS affils will benefit from Winter Olympics lead-ins “our job is to present a product that may be able to keep some of those viewers.”

He said he expected news director Bill Carey to remain at the station handling day-to-day running of the department, but conceded he’s “not big on slogans,” particularly the station’s “More News, Less Time” motto, and is “still trying to figure out what that means.” His mandate is to make WCBS’ news more “relevant” to local audiences, without necessarily increasing the cost of producing it.

Klein said he combined two roles under Friedman — who has experience in both — because “promotion has to reflect the news (operation) and news has to reflect promotion.”

Friedman exec produced “Today” from 1979-87 and again from 1993-95, when he conceived the street-level studio that has attracted legions of tourists, spurring ABC and possibly CBS to mimic it. In the interim, he shepherded the ill-fated “USA Today” TV project for Gannett and former NBC prexy Grant Tinker. Friedman created “Dateline NBC” in 1992 and also served as exec producer of “NBC Nightly News” from 1990-93.

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