Skip to comments.CBS fires Channel 2 boss Joe Ahern
Posted on 10/15/2008 7:08:03 AM PDT by KeyLargo
CBS fires Channel 2 boss Joe Ahern
October 15, 2008 BY ROBERT FEDER Sun-Times Columnist
In the end, there was no one else to blame and no one else to fire.
Joe Ahern had six years, two months, two days and -- for much of that time -- a virtually unlimited budget to turn around the fortunes of WBBM-Channel 2. » Click to enlarge image Joe Ahern served six years as president and general manager of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. He was fired today. (Courtesy)
But in all that time and with all those resources, he left the CBS-owned station arguably worse off than he found it.
He didn't just fail. He failed utterly. Miserably.
In an abrupt though hardly unexpected move that spoke volumes about his standing in a company that once hailed him as "the Michael Jordan of Chicago television," Ahern, 63, was fired Tuesday as president and general manager. There wasn't even a pretense of the dignified retirement his ego would have craved.
Succeeding him, effective today, is Bruno Cohen, who most recently headed CBS-owned KMAX-TV/KOVR-TV in Sacramento, Calif.
Cohen, 57, whose background includes top news executive posts at CNBC and WNBC-TV in New York, said his top priority will be "to find the things that the people who work at WBBM do really well and find a way to communicate that to the people of Chicago."
When Ahern returned to Chicago in 2002 to take over Channel 2, his reputation preceded him based on his 12-year run as boss of WLS-Channel 7, the top-rated ABC-owned station.
Unfortunately, he also brought with him the mistaken belief that the same strategy that worked for Channel 7 in the 1980s could work for Channel 2 now.
He hired dozens of on-air and behind-scenes staffers from competing stations, overspending lavishly to lure them. His most costly hiring blunder turned out to be Diann Burns, the highest paid anchor in local history.
He overspent and overbuilt on the station's new broadcast facility at Block 37 and included a marble shower in the private bathroom of his new office even after he began cutting jobs, decimating the news budget and destroying morale.
He subjected the station to ridicule (and at least two lawsuits) for its outrageous editing of the Amy Jacobson hidden-camera video, and he made himself a laughingstock when he forced his own staff to pick up the tab for his birthday party.
And did I mention that he failed to boost the ratings?
Joe, we hardly knew ye.
So HOW many millions was his severence package?
Bruno Cohen? Now that's a first and last name I never thought I'd see together.
I’ve lived in and around Chicago for 47 years, channel 2 has a news program ?
Heheh... sort of like "Vladimir Guerrero".
CBS does not get it. The problem is not with the manager. It is the crap that the manager has to package as "news".
Nice, even-handed reporting there, Bob.
And how is your own newspaper doing these days?
I actually know a Mexican guy named Vladimir. His parents named him after Lenin. Nice guy, totally non-political.
Feder fails to mention that he is getting out from the Sun-Times before the ship sinks.
“Chicago Sun-Times radio columnist Robert Feder announced in today’s paper that he is leaving the Sun-Times after 28 years. Feder is taking a buyout offered to all employees with at least 25 years tenure at the paper. Feder’s last column will be published sometime in the next few weeks.”