In Depth

12 to Watch: Ed Wilson

Righting the ship is the main concern of Ed Wilson, president of Tribune Broadcasting and corporate parent Tribune Co.’s chief revenue officer.

12 to Watch

On Dec. 8, Tribune Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection; on Dec. 15, Mr. Wilson was appointed CRO, charged with “growing the company’s publishing, broadcasting and interactive revenues.”

Tribune, which owns 19 television stations in major U.S. markets and is the second-largest newspaper publisher in terms of revenue, has been forced to restructure due to the unprecedented economic turmoil in the media industry. (The company also is selling off its baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, as well as their home, Wrigley Field.)

Mr. Wilson’s is a weighty undertaking at a critical time, but at least he is having fun with it. According to the press release announcing Mr. Wilson’s new position, he also will man the night-owl shift at the Starbucks across the street from Tribune Tower.

“With this third job, I’ll have access to free coffee, which means I’ll have the stamina and energy for my two jobs at Tribune—and I’ll contribute a portion of my Starbucks paycheck to the company as a way of kickstarting new-revenue generation,” he said in the release.

Going into 2009, Mr. Wilson said his overall goal for the Tribune station group is to make each station more relevant to its market through news and sales. “I look at what we are in Chicago with WGN, and I go, ‘This is what we can be everywhere.’”

For Mr. Wilson’s new CRO position, he said his main interest is trying to solve advertisers’ problems, which he traces to consumer confidence. “First off, people better believe that they have a job, and that that job is going to pay them enough money that they can go out and buy a new car.”

But even with a bankruptcy looming like a storm cloud over Tribune, Mr. Wilson said the company needs to continue looking ahead in order to continue its success.

“I think the plan going forward is to continue to grow our businesses in each of our local markets. That means by selling better, promoting better and programming better,” he said.

AT A GLANCE

Name: Ed Wilson

Title: President of Tribune Broadcasting; chief revenue officer of Tribune Co.

How long in current position: Since February 2008; since December 2008

Year of birth: 1957

Place of birth: Pine Bluff, Ark.

What to watch for: Mr. Wilson will need to act carefully and swiftly in order to set Tribune on the path out of bankruptcy.

Who knew? His favorite food is fried chicken.

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