WGN boss Marty Wilke changes channels to CBS 2

In a bombshell that rocked two Chicago television stations Friday, the boss of Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 was named to replace the boss of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.

Marty Wilke, who has been vice president and general manager of WGN since 2008, will succeed Bruno Cohen as president and general manager of CBS 2, effective October 1.

“We are fortunate to have found a terrific successor in Marty, who has spent her entire life in the Chicago area, understands the intricacies of the market and has earned a great reputation as a skilled operator during her many years at WGN,” Peter Dunn, president of CBS Television Stations, said in a statement. “We are excited to welcome Marty to the CBS family and look forward to having her work with the great team of people we have at WBBM to drive even more growth and success in the months and years ahead.”

Wilke, 48, a native of west suburban Downers Grove and graduate of DePaul University, joined WGN in 1996 as a local sales account executive. She became local sales manager in 2001 and director of sales in 2002 before being named general manager in 2008. Wilke, who subsequently added oversight of CLTV, has kept the station competitive and profitable throughout her tenure.

“This is an opportunity that came out of the blue for me,” Wilke told me moments after she broke the news to her staff. “I feel so blessed that I’m able to be here in my hometown, where my family is.”

Cohen, 60, who has headed CBS 2 since 2008, is being transferred to run the CBS-owned stations in San Francisco, KPIX-TV and KBCW-TV, and Seattle, KSTW-TV. Before his appointment here, Cohen served as general manager of KOVR-TV and KMAX-TV, the CBS-owned stations in Sacramento, California.

 “I’m excited about this new assignment and honored by Peter’s and CBS’s confidence in me,” Cohen said. “The staff at WBBM is doing an exceptional job.  I’ll miss them and the city of Chicago.  But I look forward to returning to the Bay Area – the place where I grew up, where my sons were born and where I had such a wonderful experience at KPIX.”

Steve Farber, vice president/programming operations for Tribune Broadcasting, was named acting general manager of WGN. Farber previously was general manager of CLTV.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)