Chicago Business Focus Sean Compton
November 1, 2010
By Lynne Marek, Crain's Chicago Business
Sean Compton, 36 | President of programming | Tribune Co. | Chicago
Sean Compton says his career began at age 11 with a radio broadcast from the basement of his parents' home in Connersville, Ind. After that, he moved from part-time radio station gigs in high school, through DJ and producer jobs to program director at WSAI radio in Cincinnati by the time he was 19. No college necessary.
He then spent nearly 15 years climbing the corporate ladders of Jacor Communications Inc. and Clear Channel Communications Inc., after it acquired Jacor, until he was tapped by his one-time Jacor boss, Randy Michaels, who recently resigned as Tribune Co. CEO, to become senior vice-president of the programming and entertainment unit in Tribune's broadcasting division. This year, he was appointed president of the unit.
â€œI just work constantly,â€ he says. â€œI always have, whatever work I've done. I've just thrown myself into it.â€
He's shaking up traditional ways at WGN-TV/Channel 9 and WGN-AM/720 radio, as well as at Tribune's 22 other local TV stations and two cable channels. Hoping to launch a series of new talk shows, he wants to tape before an audience at the Tribune studios for the first time in years. The company also plans to test an anchor-free news format in Houston.
Mr. Compton â€œhas brought in quite a bit of new life,â€ Nashville radio consultant Robert Unmacht says, specifically citing changes at the national WGN America cable channel.
Noting that it now runs more-popular reruns, he says Mr. Compton was â€œsmart to realize that this is an amazing asset that wasn't developed.â€