B+C Hall of Fame 2022: Leo MacCourtney

Leo MacCourtney
Leo MacCourtney (Image credit: Katz Media Group)

As president of Katz Television Group, Leo MacCourtney oversees sales growth for more than 800 stations in nearly 200 markets. About 80 broadcast groups are served by Katz and MacCourtney. 

MacCourtney joined Katz, the largest media representation company for TV and radio in the country, in 2007 and was appointed to his current position five years later. 

In his role, the longtime sales executive works with local television stations as the conduit between advertisers and ad agencies on the national representative side.

Also: Welcome to the 30th Anniversary of the ‘B+C’ Hall of Fame 

Those connections with clients are “tremendous,” his boss, Katz Media Group CEO Mark Gray, said. “He is extremely well-known and well-liked. He has the highest amount of integrity.”

Brian Lawlor, president of local media at E.W. Scripps, has known MacCourtney for more than two decades.

“He’s somebody that on a regular basis, more than annually, we’re talking about strategy [and] competitive positioning,” Lawlor said.  

MacCourtney previously was in charge of Eagle Television Sales and Blair Television. 

Using technology, Katz can access data and strategic insights for product research for their clients. They oversee all retail ad campaigns and book political spots across the country on behalf of those stations.

After more than 40 years, MacCourtney, 66, has honed his craft in TV sales and humbly considers himself an expert in the field.

He’s somebody that on a regular basis, more than annually, we’re talking about strategy [and] competitive positioning.”

— Brian Lawlor, E.W. Scripps

A senior leadership team of 10 reports directly to MacCourtney.  

With 10 offices across the country, he will often leave his Manhattan headquarters to meet employees or his dozens of clients. 

“He attracts great talent and people are very loyal to him,” Gray said.

However, MacCourtney said: “It’s not about me. It’s about giving people great opportunities to knock it out of the park.”

Experience was only part of MacCourtney’s skill set. He got a front-row seat to broadcasting, thanks to his father, Leo MacCourtney Sr., who owned TV stations.

Although the junior MacCourtney didn’t have the same drive, he was introduced to the national scene when his father connected him to Blair TV head Harry Smart in the 1970s.

He started in Cleveland for Blair and within two years was transferred to New York, where he’s been based ever since.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, MacCourtney was already thinking about his future. 

“When I spent the summers at home, I liked hanging out with the sales guys at [dad’s] TV station,” he recalled.  

Getting a glimpse into his career, MacCourtney was hooked when he attended the University of Notre Dame in 1973. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration but didn’t rely on his degree for work. 

“The job was to get a job,” he said. 

After a slew of interviews, MacCourtney landed a sales job at Johnson & Johnson.  However, his path would be altered forever upon listening to the radio one day. A commercial came on the air seeking sales personnel at radio station WERE Cleveland.

With a love of sales and the culture at Katz, MacCourtney keeps the passion alive.  “There’s never been a day that I’ve gone to work that I didn’t like,” he said. “I’ve always thought broadcasting is the most fun job because it’s all people. It’s very outward.” 

MacCourtney, a strong advocate for local TV, regularly gives back to the industry that has meant so much to him. 

Giving Back to Broadcasting

His involvement in the Broadcasters Foundation of America, as VP and treasurer, makes sure that those in need are not forgotten. Katz Media has gone to bat for that worthy cause, raising more than $400,000 from employee and seller donations. 

“He devotes a lot of time and energy in doing that,” Gray said. 

The veteran exec also is on the board of the Washington Media Scholars Foundation, which “gives young people the opportunity to learn what’s going on in the business,” MacCourtney said. 

MacCourtney is also chairman of the International Radio and Television Society and previously held that title for the Television Bureau of Advertising.

“I do believe there is a huge mission here for people like myself to give back to the industry and I work very hard to make sure that I’m helping,” he said.

MacCourtney’s passion for his job is as strong as ever. “My motto in the business is, ‘There is no finish line,’ ” he said. ■

Jerry Barmash

Along with his freelance work for B+C Multichannel News, Jerry has been writing about the media for more than a decade. His articles have been featured in the New York Daily NewsWatercoolerHQ and Barrett News Media. Jerry spent many years on the other side of broadcasting with various on-air gigs in New York and nationally. He is a full-time editor for Patch.com.