Two women with deep backgrounds in local TV broadcasting have taken separate paths to rise to the top positions at CBS affiliates in Milwaukee and Philadelphia. The fact that they’re sisters “is really cool for both of us,” they say.
Anne Brown and Kelly Frank are sisters. Coincidently, they’re both general managers for two different CBS affiliates.
Brown is the GM for WDJT, Weigel Broadcasting’s CBS station in Milwaukee.
And Frank is the new GM for KYW, the CBS-owned station in Philly.
Both have backgrounds as news producers in local and national TV news. Both even worked at the same local TV station, WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, although not at the same time.
Brown has been an executive producer at WUSA in Washington, D.C. Then she was director, strategy and marketing at WITI, the Fox O&O in Milwaukee, before becoming GM at WDJT.
Before Frank became the GM at KYW in April, she was director of news and digital content for Tegna stations in Tampa and Columbus.
Both recently discussed their starts into local TV, how they lean on each other for counsel and why even though they work for different broadcast companies, they believe they are right where they want to be.
Growing up in Southern California, “we did watch the news,” Brown says. “It was Jerry Dunphy, ‘From the desert to the sea and to all of Southern California, a good evening.’”
At Ohio State, Brown gravitated to journalism and broadcasting, interning at WBNS.
Frank went to Kentucky Wesleyan College on a softball scholarship, majoring in English. After college, not knowing what she wanted to do, Frank reached out to her sister for advice.
“I always looked up to my big sister, I can tell you that,” Frank says.
Brown’s advice: “You write, you know production. You would really be good in news.”
They’ve found being sisters in broadcasting has its advantages.
Frank applied for a job at WCMH, the NBC affiliate in Columbus, as the weekend morning producer. Frank mentioned to the woman interviewing her for the job that her sister was a TV journalist.
“She asked me who my sister was, I identified Anne and she paused and she said your sister was one of my mentors,” Frank recalls. “We both went to Ohio State and we worked at WBNS together. I am going to hire you because if you are Anne’s little sister, you will know how to do this.”
That woman was Adrienne Roark, currently president of CBS Television Stations.
“Her line was, your sister is getting you in the door, but you have got to keep it,” Frank says.
Brown has been GM at WDJT for two years. So when Frank was considering the GM opening at KYW, her first as a GM, she naturally reached out to her big sister.
“Like everything in my career, I call Anne to run it by her and see if I have lost my mind,” Franks says.
Frank says her sister was encouraging, telling her that the role of GM is “about people and leadership, something you absolutely excel in.”
Frank doesn’t always follow her sister’s advice even though her sister has been an amazing role model, she says.
“Sometimes I followed it, and sometimes I didn’t because we are wired differently,” Frank says. “We certainly love each other, and there is mutual respect.”
And sometimes rivalries. Brown is a Green Bay Packers fan, while Frank cheers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Right now though, it might be the Eagles/Packers, Brown says.
What attracted Frank initially to the GM role at the CBS-owned KYW was “this amazing legacy network, the house that Murrow built,” she says.
And after talking to Wendy McMahon, president and co-head of CBS News and Television Stations, and Roark, Frank says she wanted to work “for amazing, smart women in a field that had been so dominated by men. I want to be in this room. The way they talked about serving our communities, I was so inspired.”
“We have had such different paths,” Brown says. “Being with Weigel, a small company compared to the giants, the intimacy of the company has proven to be a good path for me.”
Even though Brown and Frank took their own paths to being GMs and now work in different markets for different broadcast companies, their passion for television is the same.
The chance to work with all the different people at the station to make the station’s news, sales and marketing better “is definitely very, very appealing to me,” Brown says. “It is so important for me to know every person in the building.”
Franks says she’s been kind of a gypsy, but in landing “here in Philadelphia, what I have loved about the position is the ability to touch so many different parts of what we do. I get teary talking about it, the humbling honor of being handed this operation to lead. My VP of sales says I skip to work every day.”
“To see the paths we have taken, where we have ended up, we feel we are right where we should be,” Brown says.
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