Bell tolls for KCBS

Local news vet in for Perret as news chief

CBS is expected to announce the appointment today of Roger Bell as news director of its ailing Los Angeles O&O.

Bell, a local news vet who most recently has been an exec producer for WNBC New York, will replace Larry Perret. Perret was let go Monday after five years with the station.

KCBS’ newscasts won numerous Emmy and Radio-Television News Directors Assn. kudos on Perret’s watch, but the station still runs a distant third to KNBC and KABC in the local news races among English-lingo outlets.

Shakeup predicted

A management shakeup had been anticipated at KCBS ever since broadcasting vet John Severino was named the new prexy of the Eye’s O&O group in July. Severino was hired with a mandate to right the sinking KCBS ship.

Bell and Severino worked together in the 1970s and ’80s at KABC during Severino’s tenure as prexy of the ABC O&O group. After working his way up the ranks, Bell served as news director of KABC from 1988 to ’94.

Dire straits

KCBS already was in dire straits when Perret signed on in September 1994 after spending the previous five years overseeing the primetime news block on KCAL Los Angeles. During the most recent May sweep, KCBS’ afternoon news block mustered barely half of the Nielsen numbers of market leader KNBC.

Local news, being the single biggest money maker for network O&Os, naturally is a top priority for Severino. He has already unveiled plans to move CBS’ highly rated daytime gameshow “The Price Is Right” to the 3 p.m. slot from 10 a.m. next month, in an effort to provide a solid lead-in aud for the station’s new 4 p.m. newscast set to bow Sept. 13.

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