Telemundo station boss ‘thrilled’ to head back home

Chris McDonnell may be Chicago’s newest television boss, but he’s a familiar face to the local media community and to the Spanish-language station he’ll be running.

With his appointment this week as president and general manager of Telemundo Station Group’s WSNS-Channel 44, McDonnell, 46, comes home to the market where he grew up and launched his career in broadcast sales.

"I am thrilled to be heading back to my hometown of Chicago, and even more so to the Hispanic marketplace," McDonnell said in a statement Tuesday. “Having worked for NBC and Telemundo for 15 years, in both general market and Spanish language stations, has offered me a broad perspective on our ever-changing media business — especially in Chicago.”

McDonnell was reintroduced at a town hall meeting with staffers at NBC Tower where his appointment was announced Monday. Calling him “the ideal leader for our station,” Telemundo Station Group president Manuel Abud cited McDonnell’s “strong sales background, coupled with his knowledge of both the market and our organization.”

He succeeds Celia Chavez, who left last May to become president and general manager of Telemundo’s KVEA-TV in Los Angeles.

McDonnell, who grew up in northwest suburban Arlington Heights and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, worked for Leo Burnett Worldwide and two sales rep firms in Chicago before joining NBC 5 the first time as an account executive in 1995. He spent a year in sales at ABC 7 before Larry Wert brought him back to NBC 5, where he rose to local and national sales manager posts.

In 2002, he shifted to the Telemundo side at NBC Tower (Telemundo Media is a division of NBC Universal) when he was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing at WSNS. In 2005, he was named vice president of sales and marketing at KNSD-TV, the NBC-owned station in San Diego, under Phyllis Schwartz, with whom he’d worked at NBC 5. Since 2009, he’s held the same post at NBC-owned KXAS-TV in Dallas.

Added McDonnell: “After running sales for WSNS for three years, I now find the Hispanic marketplace part of who I am, and I am ready to lead our station in making a positive impact amongst our viewers, employees and our clients.”


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)