“Larry’s talent, creativity, and broad television, digital and radio experience make him the ideal person to lead our local broadcasting and radio businesses,” Liguori said in announcing the appointment. “Larry is also a skilled manager of people, an innovative programmer, and understands the important role our local TV news operations play in the communities we serve.”
Wert will oversee Tribune’s 23 TV stations and the WGN-AM Chicago radio station, reporting to Liguori. Nils Larsen remains prexy of Tribune Broadcasting unit encompassing the stations and the WGN America cabler.
Wert comes to Tribune as the company refocuses its efforts on growing the TV stations and WGN America cabler after a four-year struggle through bankruptcy proceedings. The Tribune station group is among the largest in the country with outlets in New York, L.A., Chi and other major markets covering about 35% of U.S. TV households.
“I think there’s a unique opportunity going forward because of the (group’s) size and footprint,” Wert said. “There’s new leadership and vision that is focused on maximizing these assets.”
Wert has spent the past 15 years with NBC’s O&O division, most recently as exec veep of station initiatives. He’s well-known in Tribune’s HQ of Chicago having lead the Peacock’s Chicago O&O, WMAQ, for 10 years beginning in 1998. In 2008, he was upped to a regional prexy post overseeing five O&Os. He acknowledged that he’ll face something of a learning curve in shifting from NBC affils to Tribune stations, most of which are CW or Fox affils. But after 30 years in broadcasting, “I have a pretty good base of knowledge,” he said.