Rob Dwyer, a longtime TV marketer, is the new GM at KCEN in Temple, Texas. What makes TV marketers good candidates to run stations? “We are the great collaborators,” Dwyer says.
Rob Dwyer is the new GM at KCEN and KAGS, Tegna’s NBC affiliate in Temple, Texas. It’s his first time being a TV GM. Prior to KCEN, Dwyer was the marketing director at WCNC, Tegna’s NBC station in Charlotte, N.C. And prior to that, he held marketing leadership roles at stations in Orlando and Greenville, S.C., as well as the Golf Channel.
You don’t have to look far to see examples of local TV marketers who have risen to the highest leadership positions in broadcasting.
Wendy McMahon, president of CBS News and the CBS television stations, and former head of the ABC O&O stations, was a marketing director, creative services director and promotion manager at a half dozen local TV stations before her role at CBS two years ago.
Valari Staab, chairman of NBCUniversal Local, spent 10 years as creative services director at WPVI, the ABC O&O in Philadelphia, early in her career.
Emily Barr, who recently retired as president from Graham Media, was a promotions writer/producer and creative services director early in her career.
And currently, there is a trend of GM’s who came up through the marketing side of the business as opposed to the more traditional sales or news sides.
What is it that local TV marketers possess that makes them attractive as candidates to run local TV stations?
“We are the great collaborators,” Dwyer says. “We are the ones that are in every department every day.”
It’s true. Successful local TV marketers not only collaborate with the general managers and news directors in the long-term success of the station, but every day they also interact with the troops on the ground in news, sales, engineering, traffic, master control, production and graphics and, of course, marketing.
“I am in each department every day looking for solutions, helping solve problems, pulling people together so they are working collaboratively,” he says, the same thought processing pattern required of general managers.
Dwyer says he’s wanted to be a general manager since 2019 and took advantage of a path Tegna established to help him.
“They opened up the executive leadership training program and I was one of about 20 people to participate,” Dwyer says.
When the opening at KCEN became available, his experience coming out of the leadership program made him a good fit, he says.
What appeals to him being a general manager is his enjoyment mentoring and building culture.
“To be able to take that to a much higher level as a general manager, help people grow in their capacity, build a good brand, that is what was really attractive about it,” Dwyer says.
But Dwyer’s not being thrown in the deep end to fend for himself. He’ll be under the auspices of another first-time general manager who came up through marketing, Kristie Gonzales. Gonzales, in addition to being the GM at KVUE, the ABC affiliate in Austin, was recently elevated by Tegna to be its VP of media operations across its 11 Texas markets.
Dwyer says Gonzales wants him to focus on building the culture at KCEN.
“The people skills are what’s important,” he says. “Keep focusing on people, help people grow, keep listening, that’s what you want to focus on.”
Dwyer’s advice for other local TV marketing execs who aspire to be GMs is to spend time with your general manager, and ask a lot of questions.
He credits Joan Barrett, his GM at WCNC, for spending time with him in order to answer his questions and teach him about the different aspects of the business.
Her advice, like Gonzales’ “comes back to the people,” he says.
“It’s about grooming and growing and recruiting really good people,” Dwyer says.
When Dwyer found out he got the nod at KCEN, he says as a marketer, his first concern was about the brand and how that was being executed.
Now in his first week as KCEN’s new GM, Dwyer sees his right-away challenge is to understand what “everybody has been doing here, what they do really well, what they wish they were doing, what opportunities they could embrace.”
And how does he plan on doing that?
“On top of my list: just listen.”
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