- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 19, 2002

NBC named Michael Jack president and general manager of WRC-TV (Channel 4) yesterday, ending the search for the next boss of Washington's top-rated television station.

Mr. Jack has managed NBC's affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, the nation's 34th-largest television market. The Washington market is the eighth-largest.

He says he wanted the WRC gig because it presented "a great challenge." The station has topped its competitors in the ratings for several years, but it is beginning to slip in some key races.

In May, the station's early-morning local news numbers were down 27 percent over the previous year. Its numbers were also down slightly at 11 p.m., but up at 6 p.m.

Like broadcasters everywhere, WRC also is trying to recover from the recession. In 2001, the station generated $111.2 million in revenue, down from $131.7 million in 2000, according to BIA Financial Network, a media research group.

"It is a challenge to continue the growth that this station has experienced. Nothing will happen without the full participation of every manager here," Mr. Jack says.

It's too early to discuss specific plans to fix WRC's trouble spots, he says.

In addition to his WRC duties, Mr. Jack will serve as vice president of diversity for the NBC network.

Linda Sullivan left her general manager post at WRC in early May to take over the NBC affiliate in San Jose, Calif.

Mr. Jack says he wants to spend the next few weeks getting to know Washington. He no doubt will start by learning his way around the region's highway system.

Mr. Jack took a wrong turn on his way from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport yesterday and arrived late at WRC's upper Northwest studios.

How did he find his way to the station? He spotted one of WRC's news trucks and followed it there.

Sports search

The hunt is on for Jess Atkinson's replacement at WUSA-TV (Channel 9). Mr. Atkinson announced his resignation as the CBS affiliate's chief sports anchor June 6. He will stay until his replacement is named.

WUSA, owned by McLean media giant Gannett Co., wants to fill the position by July 23, when the Washington Redskins begin training camp.

Dcrtv.com, a Web site that monitors local media, reported last week that CBS Sports analyst Spencer Tillman and former WJLA weekend sports anchor Dan Miller were top candidates.

WUSA also contacted the agent for Comcast SportsNet anchor Chick Hernandez, who won a local Emmy for best sportscaster. Mr. Hernandez, a protege of legendary WUSA sportscaster Glenn Brenner, says he is "completely thrilled" at Comcast, but is willing to listen if WUSA wants to talk.

Got a tip? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139, or send an e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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