Innovative Leadership–The General Managers Pushing FOX Television Stations’ Success


A closer look at a few of the GMs responsible for innovation and performance at three FOX Television Stations

Jack Abernethy (Photo: Wendy Moger-Bross)

This has been an exciting time for the FOX Television Stations–having received the 2018 TV Station Group of the Year, and seeing CEO Jack Abernethy awarded Broadcaster of the Year. Led by these successes, along with the vision and support of progressive corporate executives, each of the 28 stations has steadily increased the hours of live, local news and other programming. Here, we highlight three local leaders that are building momentum behind their imaginative, resourceful and scalable ideas.

Lew Leone | WNYW-WWOR NEW YORK |   DMA 1

From day one it’s been our goal to have a diverse workforce that reflects the communities which we serve. It is also a shrewd business practice which allows us to imagine, create and develop content that appeals to our large and diverse audience. We always cover the news of the day but leave room for enterprise features which are largely driven from anyone in the station who has a good idea. We’ve created content that has been initiated by everyone from a college intern to the General Manager and we go deep into a myriad of topics which interest us. We constantly experiment with content on digital platforms from daily Facebook Live Shows, The FOX5 Podcast Network, our YouTube Channel to the availability of Rosanna Scotto’s Real Estate Show on Hulu. If you watch Fox5 you’ll notice that we do things differently and for the most part we are not driven by what our competitors are doing. In fact, they often try to copy what we are doing and that feels great.


If it’s live local, and relevant, we are going to find a way to put it on the air and online. In the earliest days of broadcast television, the networks were in their infancy and there was no such thing as syndicated programming. Our vision is to go back to those pioneering days with a 21st century spin. Over the last three years, we have added three and a half hours of daily news and entertainment programming to our broadcast line-up, giving us more news than any of our competitors by far.

“The Jason Show” has become a favorite with Jason’s fans, who are regulars in the live studio audience. We have formed strong partnerships with the Minnesota Vikings and the University of Minnesota. These partnerships allow us to co-produce content-rich shows such as “Vikings Live,” which debuted this year on Thursday nights, in combination with Fox Thursday Night Football. This show is the first of its kind, broadcast from the Vikings headquarters before a live audience. We are also in our third year of “Vikings Game Day Live”, a real “Xs and Os” pre-game show and a perfect lead-in to the #1 pre-game show, “NFL on Fox.”

With the University of Minnesota, we complement Fox College sports with weekly coaches shows, “The P.J. Fleck Show” and “The Gopher Basketball Show.” All of our shows are available on livestream and receive a tremendous amount of support through social media. More locally-focused news and local, live sports is where we’re going – it differentiates us from our competitors and ties perfectly to the new FOX vision.

Patrick Paolini | WTTG-WDCA WASHINGTON | DMA 6

We are interested in recruiting and keeping authentic personalities and creating engaging content on platforms relevant to our audience, beyond traditional newscasts. We have found that content has to be produced specifically for the platform it’s being delivered on. The days of re-purposing the same content across all platforms are over. Our content MUST connect with the user, depending on where and when they’re consuming it. In April of 2017, we launched “Fox 5 Live,” our all digital news desk, which handles breaking news and major stories of the day, solely through our digital platform. In addition to expanding news on our digital platforms, we are also focused on expanding newscasts in more time periods.

Since 2015, we have increased locally produced news and information over the air from 51 Hours per week to 70+ hours per week. We are adding more and more programs that are unconventional such as “The Final Five,” a weeknight program that’s not “political,” it’s about politics… capturing all the best video, sound bites and tweets of the day. “Like it or Not” is a new 7 p.m. program, where four hosts tackle stories of the day that are trending across social media platforms. With the proliferation of news and information consumption on the users timetable, we must deliver relevant, timely news and information where and when our audience wants it – that’s what drives our strategy.

Read more about all of The FOX Television Stations GMs here.