Tag Archives: WLS

WLS Names David Lee VP Of Creative Services

David Lee

WLS, the ABC O&O in Chicago, has named David Lee vice president of audience development and creative services effective March 26.

John Idler

“David has been a creative force in the ABC station group and it’s exciting to have someone with his diverse experience and vision join WLS,” said John Idler, WLS’ general manager.

“David’s creative instincts combined with his expertise mining the digital space make him the ideal person to lead our station’s talented Creative Services Department.”

Lee comes to WLS from KTRK, the ABC O&O in Houston, where he held the same title.

Prior to joining KTRK, Lee worked as the creative services director at KFSN, the ABC-owned affiliate in Fresno, Calif., and at KXLY, the ABC affiliate in Spokane, Wash.

Lee was born and raised in Great Falls, Mont., and graduated from Montana State University with a degree in film and television production.

After college and a brief stint working in Hollywood, Lee began his TV career in Great Falls producing commercials, promotions and directing newscasts.

He also worked at WMAZ in Macon, Ga., and for 10 years at KMSP in Minneapolis.

Lee has been a part of many Emmy-award winning productions, and is a graduate of NAB’s 2012 Broadcast Leadership Training Program.

He currently serves on ABC’s affiliate marketing advisory board.

After 42 Years At WLS, Jerry Taft Hangs Up His Weather Hat

Jerry Taft

When Jerry Taft wakes up next Monday morning, I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumps in his car and drives to the WLS studios in Chicago.

After all, he’s been doing that for the past 42 years and old habits are sometimes hard to break.

Taft is retiring as the ABC O&O’s chief meteorologist. Today is his last day.

Read On

WLS Names Teresa Rix New Sales Manager

Teresa Rix

WLS, the ABC O&O in Chicago, has chosen Teresa Rix to be vice president and general sales manager effective Monday, Nov. 6.

Since 2014, Rix has been VP of group sales and marketing for Tribune Media.

In that role, she was responsible for the management and leadership of all new business sales across Tribune Media’s 42 owned and operated television stations and digital properties.

“Teresa Rix is a respected and uniquely talented executive,” said John Idler, WLS’s general manager.

“Her leadership and vision, combined with extensive national and local sales experience will bring tremendous value to the station and our advertising partners”.

‘Windy City Live’ Starts 7th Season On WLS

WLS’s Windy City Live, the only locally produced talk and entertainment show of its kind in Chicago, according to the station, announced the winner of its Chicago Idol contest on Friday, Sept. 8.

The winner, Justin Ray, will get to audition in front of American Idol executive producers for a shot at the big time.

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WLS Out Front On Chicago’s Social Scene

Chicago skyline

WLS, ABC’s O&O in Chicago, is ahead in social media actions in the market over the last six months according to data from audience insight firm Shareablee.

WLS has almost 25 million actions on social, 36% of the total engagement generated in the DMA (No. 3), with more than 69 million social actions.

WLS was also first on Instagram with almost 950,000 actions.

WFLD, the Fox O&O there, was first in actions per post with almost 22,000.

The Chicago Tribune, owned by Tronc, led the market on Twitter with just over 480,000 actions.

Jennifer Hoppenstedt

Although Jennifer Hoppenstedt, WLS’s social media executive producer, says the entire newsroom contributes to creating content for social, being the only TV station in the market with its own digital reporter “sets us apart from others.”

“He’s definitely a rock star,” says Hoppenstedt when talking about Jesse Kirsch, WLS’s digital reporter.

Hoppenstedt cites a recent story by Kirsch.

“It was just a sweet story of this man, we call him the flower man now, but it was adorable. It’s one of those things that when it turns up in your newsfeed on Facebook you are going to share it. I mean who doesn’t want a touching story that really is about simple kindness. It was great.”

When it comes to Facebook Live, Hoppenstedt says the stories that get the most engagement are about breaking news.

And sometimes, a Facebook Live from a reporter on the scene can initiate a reaction from someone involved in the story.

“We had a reporter out in the suburbs,” says Hoppenstedt. “He was doing a story of a junior high kid that had been severely beaten in a hallway of school that day and was hospitalized. The family picked up the phone, called our assignment desk and said ‘hey we’re sitting in the hospital room with our son. We see your reporter and we would like to give him some information.’ I mean it’s just an incredible experience.”

Sometimes, Hoppenstedt believes, a Facebook post can lead to increased viewership in a newscast.

“One example comes to mind. This was a case in Chicago where six people were found dead in a home on the south side and it was 3:30 in the afternoon. The only video we had to reference was an aerial shot of the home. I took the shot to Facebook Live. That Facebook Live post topped six million people and we had a huge spike in our 4 p.m. viewership. It was so dramatic it could be nothing else. The people that saw us were reached in this Facebook Live report. They saw that we had it covered and they tuned in at 4 to see what in the world is going on in Chicago. It really was powerful to see that.”

Hoppenstedt says WLS has a regular feature in its newscasts called Tagboard, which allows the station to pick and choose and display comments.

“So it makes it really easy, but super engaging for the audience.”

When it comes to finding ways to monetize Facebook, Hoppenstedt points to a tie-in with the ABC telecast of the Oscars as one example. And the station partnered with the Chicago Cubs for something completely different.

“We most recently did a Chicago Cubs game, actually a couple of Cubs games live on Facebook. So that was a perfect example of something that we were able to sponsor and present to our audience, something different, an entire live baseball game.”

While generating revenue from Facebook is important, Hoppenstedt says the real value of Facebook is connecting with people.

“We’re finding ways to monetize. I think that will happen even more, but I think what’s more important at this point is that we see Facebook as an invaluable investment in people, in our fans, and we are truly energized for the opportunity to connect with people 24/7. So we never underestimate the value of the audience. As far as sales and monetization, the value is coming.”

Chicago’s WLS Wins May In Key News Time Periods

WLS, the ABC’s Chicago O&O, won all early evening and the 10 p.m. news time periods in Nielsen ratings in households, women 25-54 and persons 25-54 in the May sweep, according to the station.

Jennifer Graves

“We are very proud that such a great team effort resulted in ratings success again this May,” said Jennifer Graves, WLS news director.

“It’s hard to single out one key to success, but I felt very good about the outstanding consumer and investigative reports that seemed to resonate with our viewers.”

Curtis Miles

“We had terrific news content that allowed us to create enticing and engaging promos both on-air and on our digital platforms,” said Curtis Miles, WLS creative services director.

“In our digital space alone, we had almost 600,000 views of our top promos so we knew there was a genuine interest.”

Read On

WLS Celebrates 50 Years Of Frank Mathie Features

Imagine turning in a feature story every day for 50 years. By my math, that’s 12,500 stories. That’s a lifetime for Frank Mathie.

And remember, feature stories don’t just land on your desk like breaking news.

The assignment editor doesn’t assign them. You don’t hear about them on the police scanner.

That must have been nerve wracking for Mathie at times.

“Sometimes it was easy, sometimes it was very difficult.”

Read On

WLS Airing And Streaming St. Patty’s Day Parade

Saturday at noon, thousands of men and women will take to the streets of Chicago for two hours.

It’s not a protest, but a parade and you can watch it live on  your TV on WLS, the ABC O&O in Chicago, or stream it on abc7chicago.com from anywhere in the world.

Bagpipers, Irish step dancers, floats, marching bands and marching politicians make this one of the most celebrated events in Chicago each year.

A parade celebrating an Irish saint as well as Irish roots, family and heritage is about as American a tradition as there is.

Frank Mathie, a veteran reporter for WLS, will again be covering all the excitement and pageantry on the street and during the parade.

Of his decades as a reporter at WLS, Mathie said, “I’m a proud Irishman, and I can’t recall ever missing a chance to be part of ABC 7’s St. Patrick’s Day parade broadcasts since the first time the station aired the parade.”

Mathie’s career will be celebrated during the parade with a look back at some great moments in his illustrious 50-year tenure.

Look for more about Mathie’s 50-year career at the station next week as he signs off in April.

Frank Mathie, wife and daughter, circa 1972

WLS Halloween Story Will Make Your Day, Guaranteed

untitledHalloween is this weekend and I saw this story that I just had to share.

It must have been very hard for the reporter, Frank Mathie, to have told this story without showing some emotion. But maybe that was his point — to showcase the courage and devotion these parents have for their son.

I don’t know the parents, but I would like to tell them how much their love has brightened my day.

By the way, some of the comments on this Facebook post are well worth reading.

Thanks to Scott Jones at http://ftvlive.squarespace.com/ for originally finding this story and posting it.

"Halloween is just a day when we can just stop looking at the actual wheelchair and look at the boy in the costume."

Posted by ABC 7 Chicago on Thursday, October 27, 2016

ABC Making History With Use Of Drones

dRONESIn May, ABC O&O WLS Chicago became one of the first stations in the country to show a live shot from a drone during a regularly scheduled newscast.

WLS reporter Paul Meincke showed viewers an aerial drone shot of a new, 2.7-mile trail that opened in the city. WLS partnered with photographer Colin Hinkle, the first photographer in Chicago to be granted permission by the FAA to conduct commercial drone flights, which are tightly restricted.

“Cutting-edge technology gave us the opportunity to offer our viewers news in the most compelling way possible,” said Jennifer Graves, WLS’s news director.

Other ABC-owned stations including KABC Los Angeles, WABC New York and WPVI Philadelphia have also been pioneers in providing viewers with live footage shot by a drone.

According to an ABC spokesperson, all of the stations used a drone vendor versed in all the FAA rules and regulations that govern the use of drones.

ABC News and Good Morning America have also used drones in their news coverage.

Below are some examples:


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