WMAR Vice President and General Manager Steve Gigliotti, who has attempted to raise Channel 2's perennial third-place finish among local network TV affiliates by committing to more Baltimore-based programming, will leave his job Feb. 1 to climb the corporate ladder within parent company E. W. Scripps.
Gigliotti, who came to WMAR in October 1996, has been named senior vice president of advertising sales for Scripps Networks, putting him in charge of ad sales for the Cincinnati-based company's cable and Internet operations. He will be replaced at WMAR by Drew Berry, hired by Gigliotti as WMAR's station manager and news director in 1997; since April, he has served as station manager alone.
From the start, Gigliotti has added local programming to Channel 2's schedule, much of it involving sports coverage, including broadcasts of college lacrosse and basketball games. He added the Saturday morning kids' show, "It's Kindertime," and was developing a show with Tony Pagnotti, whose role on WMAR's newsstaff is being reduced.
However, he also canceled the "Rodricks for Breakfast" program, a weekly hodgepodge of all things Baltimore that Gigliotti praised but said was not getting enough advertising. And the college sports broadcasts have gotten generally low ratings. Still, his commitment to local programming as the way for WMAR to cultivate an audience remains firm.
"We've got all the pieces in place I think we're going to need," Gigliotti said yesterday. "The company's intention is to keep the process going."
In his three-plus years at WMAR, Gigliotti has taken pains to turn around the station without ruffling too many feathers at its York Road studios. Despite the fears of station personnel upon his arrival, few high-profile names lost their jobs. And last year's package of early retirement incentives let him trim the workforce without mass firings or layoffs.
Berry said he saw no reason to deviate from this master plan. "That commitment is still there, to local programming and the whole community connection," he said. "We firmly believe that is going to be the future of the industry."