John Conomikes, a dean of the broadcasting biz with a 45-year career in station management, is stepping down as prexy and co-CEO of Hearst-Argyle Television as of June 30.
Conomikes’ departure from the day-to-day activities at Hearst-Argyle triggers a long-planned management transition strategy, with the elevation of former exec VP Dave Barrett to Conomikes’ post as prexy and co-CEO alongside Bob Marbut, Hearst-Argyle’s chairman and co-CEO.
Tony Vinciquerra, exec VP, will assume Barrett’s responsibilities as chief operating officer of the 26-station group formed in 1997 by the merger of Hearst’s broadcast group with Argyle Television. Hearst-Argyle ranks as the nation’s ninth-largest station group, boasting some of the industry’s most honored and profitable local stations.
Conomikes will remain a member of Hearst-Argyle’s board of directors, and he’ll continue in his post as corporate veepee and board member of Hearst Corp., the largest shareholder in Hearst-Argyle.
A much-honored industry leader, Conomikes “has seen it all” in his five decades in broadcasting, Marbut said in announcing the transition.
“That includes the transformation of television itself from a small, black-and-white, snowy analog picture in a bulky box with scratchy sound into a brilliant, digital color image on a giant flat screen with theater-quality wraparound sound,” Marbut said.
From props to tops
Conomikes started out as a prop mover at Pittsburgh’s KDKA in 1955, but the bulk of his career has been with Hearst Corp. He signed on in 1959 with Hearst’s WTAE Pittsburgh, serving in various sales positions until he was upped to veep and general manager in 1970.
By 1983, Conomikes was a veep of Hearst Corp. and general manager of Hearst Broadcasting, then comprising three stations. Conomikes is credited with enlarging the group during the boom years of the 1980s and early 1990s, and he was an instrumental player in the 1997 merger of Hearst and Argyle TV.
Conomikes’ successor, Barrett, is a 15-year Hearst vet who started out in its radio division. Before the Hearst-Argyle merger, he was deputy general manager of Hearst Broadcasting.
Vinciquerra has been with Hearst-Argyle since 1997 after serving as a top station manager with CBS and Westinghouse Broadcasting.