New role keeps Larry Wert in business at NBC 5
With a new title and new set of responsibilities, veteran Chicago broadcasting executive Larry Wert has put rumors to rest that he’ll be changing channels any time soon.
While continuing as president and general manager of WMAQ-Channel 5 — a post he has held since January 1998 — Wert, 55, has been given the additional title of executive vice president of station initiatives for the NBC-owned stations.
The move solidifies Wert’s position in the company, which was taken over earlier this year by cable giant Comcast Corp. "My priority role will remain here at NBC 5 Chicago, and with our new company commitment to local and winning, I am more enthused than ever to work with you to meet our new goals," Wert told staffers in a memo. "I am looking forward to maximizing this current opportunity to achieve new highs with all of you."
In his new role, Wert will be “identifying ways the NBC-owned stations can work more closely with the Comcast markets to create opportunities that make sense for the combined company,” according to a spokeswoman.
Citing unnamed sources last June, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Comcast “can’t afford to wait long for a turnaround in its third-largest market,” and put the spotlight on Wert, who was “staring at the biggest challenge of his high-profile television and radio career.” NBC 5 disputed several ratings and revenue figures used in the story.
Since April 2008, Wert also had been president of the Central and Western region for NBC-owned stations, overseeing the company’s stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Dallas/Fort Worth. Under the new arrangement, he no longer does.
Wert, who was in Miami for business meetings Tuesday, declined further comment. But a spokeswoman said Wert already has begun working on projects for Comcast Spotlight and the Regional Sports Network. “There have been some joint sales wins, co-promotion strategies and a sports partnership in San Francisco,” she said. “All markets have a unique set of circumstances, so it will vary from market to market.”
A native of west suburban Riverside and graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wert began his career in television sales. After shifting to radio in 1989, he became locally famous as general manager of the Loop, where he was boss of such celebrated personalities as Jonathon Brandmeier, Steve Dahl, Garry Meier, Kevin Matthews and Danny Bonaduce. Now closing in on 14 years at NBC 5, Wert’s tenure is believed to exceed that of any of his predecessors.