CHICAGO, Aug. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Joe Ahern has been named President and
General Manager of WBBM-TV Chicago, it was announced today by Fred Reynolds,
President of the Viacom Television Stations Group, and Dennis Swanson,
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Ahern, most recently
president and general manager of KGO-TV San Francisco, the top station in the
nation's fifth largest market, will oversee all operations at WBBM-TV starting
Aug. 12 and will report to Swanson.
Prior to running KGO-TV San Francisco, Ahern was president and general
manager of WLS-TV Chicago, where he worked with Swanson to launch "The Oprah
"We are very excited to add Joe to our team," said Reynolds. "He is one
of the most experienced and talented broadcasters in the business. Bringing
Joe back to Chicago to run WBBM-TV is another huge coup for us as this move
will significantly increase our competitive position in this very important
market. I look forward to Joe's contributions as we continue to build our
unparalleled group of television stations to even greater prominence in the
communities that they serve."
"I've known and watched Joe throughout his career, and he has emerged one
of the brightest, most gifted station executives in the industry," said
Swanson. "During a time of historic upheaval in the San Francisco television
market, his station remained remarkably strong and stable, and has continued
to grow despite the increased competition. In Chicago, WLS-TV remained the
top-rated station under his leadership for more than a decade, which is no
easy feat considering it's one of the country's most competitive markets. He
was also instrumental in launching 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' when he worked
with me at WLS-TV as vice president of sales. Joe shares my belief in
localism and community outreach, and I'm thrilled to have the chance to work
with him again."
At WBBM-TV, Ahern replaces Walt DeHaven, whose new general manager
assignment will be announced shortly.
"Under Walt's leadership WBBM-TV made great strides in the Chicago market,
including the hiring of 'Good Morning America's' Antonio Mora as the lead
anchor," Reynolds said. "He has given us a great foundation to build on, and
we plan to take advantage of that to the fullest. Dennis and I place a high
value on the contributions Walt has made to our group, and we look forward to
his continued strong leadership within our stable of Viacom stations."
Ahern has served as president and general manager of KGO for the past four
years, during which the station was honored with the prestigious 2001 RTNDA
award for "Best News Broadcast in Northern California" and named one of the
"10 Stations that Do It Right" by Mediaweek magazine. While at KGO, Ahern
made community activism a top priority, initiating programs like Education
2000 and The Promise of Education (a compilation of news coverage, special
programming, promotions and public service announcements highlighting
education in the Bay Area). He also spearheaded The San Francisco Grand Prix,
a 125-mile bike race headed by Lance Armstrong through the city streets. The
race was broadcast live on KGO. Ahern has won many awards for his commitment
to the San Francisco community while president of the station.
Previously, Ahern was senior vice president and managing director of
broadcasting for Walt Disney Television International, based in London. He
was responsible for the development of the Disney Channels in Spain, Italy and
Germany, as well as managing Disney's television operations in the U.K. and
Ahern was president and general manager of WLS-TV Chicago from 1985-1997,
during which the station remained the No. 1 local news choice in the market,
as well as a reputation for being one of the strongest, best-run stations in
the country. Ahern was instrumental in launching "The Oprah Winfrey Show,"
which has become the most successful syndicated talkshow in U.S. television
history, while he was at WLS-TV.
Before becoming a station manager, Ahern worked in a variety of sales
management positions at WLS-TV, WXYZ-TV Detroit and WABC-TV New York. He got
his start at WPVI-TV Philadelphia.
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SOURCE WBBM-TV Chicago