Joe Ahern Named President and General Manager of WBBM-TV Chicago

General Manager of Leading Station in San Francisco to Return to Chicago

Aug 02, 2002, 01:00 ET from WBBM-TV Chicago

    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
 Winfrey Show."
     "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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