B+C Hall of Fame 2023: Frank Comerford

Frank Comerford
Frank Comerford (Image credit: NBCUniversal Local)

As Frank Comerford, chief revenue officer and president of local sales, has ascended the ranks within NBCUniversal, he always remained laser-focused on local. “My whole career has been in local, and local is about community,” Comerford said. “People care about where they live, whether it’s safe, where their kids go to school. I learned right from the beginning that that local station connection is something you can’t replace.”

That commitment to local extends to the work he does in his community.   

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“My family has been in New York City for generations,” he said. “I care about doing the right thing, I care about safety in New York and I care about supporting New York City charitable organizations. Doing good is good for the company and it’s good for the community.”

Advocating for Inclusion

For example, when Comerford served as grand marshal for New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, he heard the conversations happening around him that no LGBTQ+ groups were allowed to march in the annual event under an identifying banner.

“There were conversations going on between advocacy groups outside of NBCUniversal and we were having discussions internally, but there didn’t appear to be any progress,” Craig Robinson, executive VP and chief diversity officer, NBCUniversal, said. “Frank called me to his office and said, ‘It’s past time for change and I am dedicated to doing what I can to break through that barrier.’ ”

After a year of conversations with key players, the NBCU employee resource group OUT@NBCUniversal was able to march as an identified group in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2015. The event made worldwide news. 

“Eight years later, it seems like a matter-of-fact issue; it is not,” Robinson said. “It was  absolutely groundbreaking. It was Frank Comerford who said, ‘What am I doing if I’m not using my voice to fight for equity and equality?’ ”

It’s those skills of listening and persuasion that have served Comerford throughout his more than 40 years in the TV industry and more than 30 years at NBCU. 

Frank puts himself in the seat of his client. The people in our business appreciate that.”

— Jon Miller, NBC Sports

“One thing I tell every person early in their career is that sales isn’t about talking, sales is about listening. The customer will tell you what they need if you take the time to listen,” Comerford said.

“Frank puts himself in the seat of his client,” Jon Miller, president of acquisitions and partnerships, NBC Sports, said. “The people in our business appreciate that.”

Comerford started his career at Storer Television Sales in New York in 1981 and then served in several sales management positions at WSBK Boston from 1986 to 1994, when he moved to NBC in sales leadership roles. In 1996, he was named VP of sales for WNBC, and he was promoted to executive VP of sales and marketing for the NBC Owned Stations Group in 1999. 

In 2002, he was named president and general manager of NBC’s flagship station, WNBC New York, where he worked for 11 years. In October 2013, he was promoted to his current role, overseeing sales and marketing for all of NBCU’s local media properties, including Telemundo.

Leading the Charge on Measurement

Over the past several years, Comerford has worked to convert NBCUniversal’s ad sales to impressions, leading the industry in moving away from ratings to a more modern means of measurement. 

“I’ve been working for him on and off for 15 years,” Mike Chico, executive VP, NBCU Television Station Sales, said. “He has been an industry leader in all of those years, and most recently when we started changing the industry to move from ratings to impressions.” 

Comerford also moved to combine NBCU’s national and local ad sales teams so that every salesperson has the ability to sell across NBCU’s raft of platforms and offerings.

“I think it’s been one of the best moves we’ve ever made,” Comerford said. “It’s given us communication between the network and local teams that has never been as good. We share information, we share resources, we share strategies. For me, it’s turned out better than I ever expected.” 

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.