NBC Universal on Tuesday named Craig Robinson general manager of KNBC-TV Channel 4 in Los Angeles.
“Coming back to L.A. and seeing how much more diverse the city is has been an incredible experience. It’s an exciting time to reflect how the city has evolved,” Robinson said in an interview. “That’s the purpose of a television station — to reflect the community it serves.” He replaces Linda Sullivan, who retired in September as the head of NBC’s second-largest station. He takes over at a difficult time. TV stations have been hard-hit by the faltering economy and a dramatic pullback in spending by their most reliable advertisers, including carmakers, car dealerships and retailers. NBC also has struggled with its entertainment schedule in prime-time, making it difficult for stations to attract viewers to its local news programs, which generate the bulk of a station’s revenue.
KNBC is currently the No. 3 station in Los Angeles for the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news among viewers ages 25 to 54. The peacock station trails market leader Univision Communication’s Spanish-language KMEX-TV Channel 34 and second-ranked Walt Disney Co.’s KABC-TV Channel 7.
“When we come out of this economic downturn, media will look a little different. People are changing the way they consume their information,” Robinson said. That means, he notes, the challenge for local stations is to send news to consumers’ computers and mobile phones as well as their TV sets. “We need to make sure that we are on all of these different platforms.”
It is a homecoming of sorts for Robinson, who will turn 49 on Thursday. He grew up in Echo Park, graduated John Marshall High School in Los Feliz and went on to UCLA, where he earned a degree in political science. He started his career in sales at KCBS-TV Channel 2 and spent 16 years at the station. Robinson joined NBC in 1996 and worked in L.A. for a couple of years before moving to the company’s station in Washington D.C., then to Columbus, Ohio, where he managed the local NBC station. He returned to Los Angeles and KNBC last year.