CBS 2 news director Jeff Kiernan bails out for Milwaukee

Jeff Kiernan

It’s back to Milwaukee for Jeff Kiernan after nine years of dismal ratings as vice president and news director at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.

Kiernan announced Thursday that he’s leaving to rejoin WTMJ, the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, as senior director of local content. A graduate of Marquette University, Kiernan began his career in radio news in Milwaukee and joined WTMJ in 1990, where he rose from news assignment manager to news director during 13 years there.

His departure from CBS 2, effective April 6, follows last week’s announcement by Marty Wilke that she was retiring after six years as president and general manager. Wilke’s last day at the station is Friday. No replacements have been named for Wilke or Kiernan.

“It’s a full circle moment for me,” Kiernan said in a statement. “As passionate as I am about good reporting and powerful storytelling, I’m just as passionate about the Milwaukee area. To return to a community and a station that gave me my start is truly exciting and humbling. Much has changed over the years but the need for strong local journalism is as important as ever. I look forward to rejoining this team to work hard and develop the best content for the people who count on us.”

At WTMJ, he succeeds Janet Hundley, a former assistant news director at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Hundley left as news director of the Milwaukee station in December.

A native of Munster, Indiana, Kiernan joined CBS 2 in 2009 after stints as news director at CBS stations WCCO in Minneapolis and WBZ in Boston. Through a spokeswoman, Kiernan declined to comment on his experience at CBS 2, where the station remained mired in last place in the ratings throughout his tenure.