KTLA-TV is poised for a historic changing of the guard as Seattle station executive Janene Drafs takes the reins of the storied Los Angeles TV station as general manager following the retirement of local broadcast stalwart Don Corsini.
Drafs, who is the first woman to lead KTLA, is set to begin her post as VP and general manager on Feb. 10. She’ll oversee all broadcast and digital operations of the station, now owned by Nexstar Media Group. KTLA marks Nexstar’s largest market among its 197 TV stations that reach some 63% of U.S. TV households. Los Angeles ranks No. 2 in TV market size behind New York representing an estimated 4.8% of the national TV audience.
Drafs comes to KTLA after working her way up from an entry-level sales position at Seattle’s KOMO-TV starting in 1992. Since 2013 she’s served as VP and g.m. of two Seattle TV stations (KOMO and KUNS) and three radio stations, now owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group. At KTLA, she’ll report to Brian Jones, chief operating officer of Nexstar Broadcasting.
“Janene is the perfect choice to take the reins of leadership at KTLA-TV,” said Jones. “Through strategic vision and determined leadership, Janene has successfully met every challenge that she’s encountered. She also has a vast amount of experience in programming, sales, station operations and establishing meaningful community partnerships.”
Corsini is known for having worked at every major L.A. TV station in the market in news or management. He was part of the hard-charging “Eyewitness News” news production team on KABC-TV starting in the mid-1970s. He also helped launch the early regional sports cabler Prime Ticket (now Fox Sports West) in the late 1980s. He’d been with KTLA since 2009, and before that was head of news and later g.m. at KCAL-TV Los Angeles. Corsini had indicated his plans to retire after Nexstar closed its $4.1 billion acquisition of longtime KTLA parent company Tribune Media in September.
KTLA is famously the first commercial broadcast TV station west of the Mississippi River, which began beaming pictures through the air in 1947. Its roots were in an experimental station (under the call sign W6XYZ) launched by Paramount Pictures and TV pioneer Klaus Landsberg in 1939. From 1963 to 1982, the station was owned by Gene Autry, the one-time singing cowboy who became an L.A.-area business mogul.
Today, KTLA remains a local powerhouse, particularly in local news, lifestyle and coverage of L.A.-centric events such as Pasadena’s annual Tournament of Roses Parade. Nexstar noted that Drafs has a long track record of building up local newscasts and of her own civic involvement in Seattle.
“My 30-plus years in the media industry have prepared me well for this moment,” said Drafs. “My path through sales, programming, operations, and management has provided me with the kind of on-the-job experience one must possess to lead a station like the local powerhouse that is KTLA, and I am grateful to Nexstar for giving me this opportunity. From its dominance in local news to its innovative approach to local programming, such as its live coverage of the Oscars and the Rose Bowl Parade, KTLA’s reputation for excellence is well-earned. I am looking forward to working alongside the station’s talented and experienced team of professionals at such an exciting time.”
On Thursday, Corsini and Drafs appeared on a KTLA newscast for a ceremonial passing of the baton.