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Tribune Broadcasting Shakes Up Bosses: Kersting Out, Larsen In

Tribune Company is shaking up its Tribune Broadcasting division today. Jerry Kersting, the Tribune Broadcasting President is gone from the company and his position/title eliminated. Replacing him effective immediately is Nils Larsen, who takes the title of Tribune Broadcasting Chief Executive Officer.

Jerry Kersting was yet another in a long line of Clear Channel/Jacor radio cronies hand-picked by then-Tribune Company CEO Randy Michaels to take over various operations within the company after he himself took charge of the Chicago-based media giant. Jerry Kersting was the former Clear Channel Radio Chief Financial Officer, where Randy Michaels previously worked as CEO. Michaels brought Kersting to Tribune Company in April 2008 and quickly moved him up the ranks at Tribune Broadcasting, eventually pushing out Ed Wilson as head of the broadcasting division in March 2010. As of today, it is Kersting who has been himself pushed out.

Nils Larsen now takes over as Tribune Broadcasting boss, overseeing operations of that division's 23 television stations (including Chicago's WGN-TV & CLTV), national cable/satellite network WGN America, and its one radio station, Chicago's WGN-AM.

In addition to being the CEO of Tribune Broadcasting, Nils Larsen will continue his role as Executive Vice President & Chief Investment Officer for Tribune Company. Larsen has also served as Chairman of Tribune Broadcasting since October, 2010.

After the ouster of controversial CEO Randy Michaels in October 2010, Nils Larsen was one of the four members of the company's Executive Council that took over the role of overseeing the CEO and President duties. He retained that position until Eddy Hartenstein was named as the new Tribune Company CEO at the start of this month.

Larsen is a longtime business associate and friend of current Tribune Chairman and owner Sam Zell. Prior to joining Tribune Company in 2008, he was the Managing Director of Equity Group Investments, LLC and a financial analyst with CS First Boston.

In today's statement announcing the promotion of Nils Larsen, Tribune Company CEO Eddy Hartenstein said: "Tribune's broadcasting group has gotten off to a strong start this year -- a result of having great assets in the biggest markets in the country, a rapidly growing cable network, and talented and innovative employees. Nils is the right person to lead our broadcasting operations; he's thoughtful, creative, and has the vision necessary to maximize the effectiveness of the group."

Nils Larsen himself added: "Our broadcasting operations are led by gifted people, who know their customers and local communities very well. We've been expanding local news, developing new original programming and making smart decisions with our syndicated programming, which is driving ratings and resonating with advertisers. We have momentum and there's a lot more opportunity ahead."

Like other upper executive promotions recently, Larsen's tenure as Tribune Broadcasting CEO could very well be short-lived. Once the current Tribune Company bankruptcy battle is finally ended, a new Board of Directors will be elected, who will more than likely select a new CEO for the company and make changes with the majority of top executive management positions.

It is now expected that a reorganization plan that will end the 2.5 year-old TribCo bankruptcy and give controlling interest in the company to its major creditors, will be decided this summer.

The Chicago-based Tribune Company is the country's largest media corporation in bankruptcy. It filed for bankruptcy in December 2008, with approximately $13 billion in debt, less than one year after real estate developer Sam Zell completed a more than $8 billion leveraged buyout of the media corporation.

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