WGN gets new TV boss from Cleveland

Greg Easterly

Greg Easterly

Tribune Broadcasting is reaching out to its station in Cleveland to fill the longstanding vacancy for president and general manager of Chicago flagship WGN-Channel 9.

Moving up from the 19th largest market to the third is Greg Easterly, a 17-year veteran of WJW-TV, Cleveland’s Fox affiliate. Tribune Co. picked up WJW last December as part of its $2.7 billion acquisition of 16 stations owned by Local TV Holdings. Easterly spent his first 10 years at the station as news director before he was named general manager in 2007.

His promotion to WGN, effective April 14, was announced Monday by Larry Wert, president of Tribune Broadcast Media. Easterly also will head the CLTV cable news channel.

"Greg is a proven leader, both at the head of a station and in the newsroom, and he has a keen understanding of the management and operations of a legacy station with market dominance,” Wert said in a statement. “WGN programs a powerful schedule of news, sports and entertainment for itself and CLTV, with more news than any other Chicago station — I’m confident WGN will continue its growth and success under Greg’s expert guidance.”

Easterly, 52, succeeds Marty Wilke, who left in September 2012 to become president and general manager of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. For the last 18 months, Steve Farber, senior vice president/operations for Tribune Broadcasting, has been acting general manager of WGN.

Like WGN, WJW airs a massive amount of news — a market-leading 71 hours a week — including a local morning news and talk block from 4:30 to 11 a.m. on weekdays. “Our company name is Local TV, and we try to live it every day,” Easterly told Broadcasting & Cable last year. “It’s a real simple formula: we are all about localism.”

At "Chicago's Very Own," one of Easterly's first tasks will be to secure a replacement from 10 to 11 a.m. weekdays for "The Rachel Ray Show," which is moving this fall to ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. A local talk show similar to WJW's "New Day Cleveland" is a possibility.

"WGN and WJW have so much in common, from their experienced staffs to their strong local news, especially their unique connection to the local community,” Easterly said in a statement. “I truly feel like one of the most fortunate broadcasters in the country – to first be a part of a powerhouse legacy station like WJW and work with the great people there, and now to be able to take the next step to WGN, another legacy station with a rich history and a top-ranked news product.”

A West Texas native, Easterly earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Abilene Christian University and began his broadcast career as a production assistant and studio camera operator at CBS affiliate KTAB-TV in Abilene, Texas. Early in his career, he was a reporter and news anchor at CBS affiliate KLST-TV San Angelo, Texas, and an executive producer at NBC affiliate KBMT-TV in Beaumont, Texas.

Before joining WJW in 1997, he was news director at ABC affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix, executive producer at NBC affiliate KJRH-TV Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a producer at CBS affiliate KOTV-TV in Tulsa.

Easterly is the second Cleveland TV executive headed for Chicago in recent days. Last Thursday, Jill Manuel, former news director of ABC affiliate WEWS-TV, was named assistant news director of Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 here.