Channel 50 General Manager Jerry Martin, the longest-tenured station chief in the area, is leaving Tribune-owned WBDC to oversee two Indianapolis stations.
Beginning Aug. 23, Martin becomes general manager of the Tribune-owned duopoly comprising Fox affiliate WXIN and WB affiliate WTTV.
Although Martin is leaving the eighth-largest market in the country for 25th-ranked Indianapolis, he will be leaving a newsless station to manage WXIN's news operation, which includes early morning and late-night newscasts.
"This offers me the opportunity to get back into the news game," Martin said in an interview yesterday. Before joining Channel 50, he was general manager of Tribune-owned Fox affiliate WTIC in Hartford, Conn., which has a 10 p.m. newscast.
In Indianapolis, Martin will oversee a staff of 150, about three times that at Channel 50. "With a . . . duopoly it's a much more complicated operation," Martin said. "It's double the pleasure."
Ever since Martin joined Channel 50 in April 2000, less than a year after Tribune bought the station from financially troubled Jasas Corp., observers have speculated that he would add a newscast. For now, Martin says, those plans have been put on hold. "Quite frankly, we think the entry point might be later in this decade as the station matures and its weekly circulation continues to expand," he said. "You have to get it to the point where you can promote and retain an audience for the news."
Under Martin's watch, the station successfully doubled its signal power in December 2002, with the installation of a new analog and digital antenna.
Martin also beefed up WBDC's syndicated lineup, especially in the 5 to 8 p.m. period leading up to prime time, and overcame Fox-owned UPN affiliate WDCA in the ratings game.
He was instrumental in bringing the "Yule Log," created by New York's WPIX in 1966 and featuring nothing but a log burning in a fireplace, to Washington's television screens on the past two Christmas mornings.
"I don't think the types of shows I air, which work on most other days, are necessarily where I want to be on Christmas," Martin told The Washington Post in 2002.