Tribune Company today announced the appointment of veteran television and radio executive Larry Wert as President of its local broadcasting businesses. Wert will be responsible for directing the strategy and operations of Tribune’s 23 local television stations and WGN Radio in Chicago. Wert will assume his new role in the near future and he will report directly to Tribune’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Liguori.
Wert, who has more than 30 years of broadcasting experience, joined WMAQ-TV (NBC5) in Chicago as President/General Manager in January 1998. In April 2008, he was named President, Central & Western Region, NBC Local Media, overseeing five NBC-owned television stations: KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, KNTV-TV in San Francisco, KNSD-TV in San Diego, KXAS-TV in Dallas and WMAQ-TV in Chicago. In September 2011, he was named EVP/Station Initiatives for NBC-owned stations.
“Larry’s talent, creativity, and broad television, digital and radio experience make him the ideal person to lead our local broadcasting and radio businesses,” said Liguori. “Larry is also a skilled manager of people, an innovative programmer, and understands the important role our local TV news operations play in the communities we serve.”
Under Wert’s leadership, NBC5 became one of the top award-winning news stations in the market. During his tenure, NBC5 has been the home of a variety of exclusive community and special-event productions, including the Chicago Marathon and Chicago Auto Show. He helped launch Chicago’s first street-side TV studio and joined with Telemundo to create the city’s first co-located, bilingual TV newsroom. Wert also was instrumental in bringing production of the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Show to NBC Tower, which is also home to Judge Mathis.
“My 15 years at NBC have been rewarding and I have no doubt that NBC Chicago and Comcast are on the upswing,” said Wert. “Tribune has a rich history of broadcast excellence, powerful television and radio media businesses and an extremely talented staff. I am excited by the opportunity to build on this great foundation—I can’t wait to get started.” Nils Larsen, President of Tribune Broadcasting, will assist Wert in the transition to his new position with Tribune.
Wert, 56, got his start in the industry at Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago in 1978. He went on to spend ten years with ABC-TV in TV Sales in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, and then to WLS-TV (Chicago) as Local Sales Manager.
In 1989, Wert was named President and General Manager of Evergreen’s “The Loop” and AM 1000 in Chicago. In 1996, he was named President of Evergreen Media Corporation when it merged with Chancellor Broadcasting. He was promoted to Senior Vice-President, overseeing Chancellor’s 13 radio properties in Chicago and Detroit before joining NBC5.
Wert is deeply involved in the greater Chicago community, serving on the Board of Directors for several charities and organizations, including the Museum of Broadcast Communications, the Children’s Brittle Bone Foundation, Catholic Charities, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, and the 100 Club. He is a member of the Governing Board of Gilda’s Club of Chicago, and is an advisor to the Chicago Chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is an Honorary Board Member of RAINBOWS, an organization that helps children cope with loss. Wert also sits on the IBA Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees for Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.
Wert holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He and his wife Julie have four children and reside in his hometown of Riverside, Ill.