Bill Fine, recently retired president and general manager of local news colossus WCVB Boston, gets the TVB Excellence Award for Career Achievement at the group’s virtual Alt Forward conference Oct. 1. Fine recently wrapped his colorful 43-year-career, which saw him shift from being a sports director in Plattsburgh, New York, early on, to sales, and then station management.
Fine spent 28 years at WCVB, the last 15 as president and general manager,
after a seven-year stint as general manager at WBAL Baltimore. Both are Hearst Television stations. Asked about a career highlight, Fine mentioned spending the bulk of his broadcast life within Hearst TV. “I was able to play for one team for the vast majority of my career,” he said. “And I was able to do it in two places — a place I came to love in Baltimore, and my hometown of Boston.”
Fine started at WCVB in 1982. Hearst bought the station in 1985. An ABC affiliate, WCVB has a relentless local news operation and beloved local programs such as Chronicle, which has detailed life in and around Boston for four decades. Fine said WCVB is more than a TV station in DMA No. 9. “It’s a Boston institution,” he said.
Fine became familiar with TVB very early in his sales career, taking part in a sales trainee program in New York back in 1979. He called the week-long program an “immersive experience” that turned him on to best sales practices around the nation, and greatly impacted his career.
He gave back to TVB as its chairman of the board in 2013 and 2014. “Bill has made his mark on the local broadcast-TV industry in ways that go far beyond any list of accomplishments can do justice,” TVB president and CEO Steve Lanzano said. “Anyone who has ever had the privilege of working with Bill understands the wisdom, passion, compassion and talent he’s brought to every role and every relationship.”
When Fine’s retirement was announced, Jordan Wertlieb, Hearst Television president, called the GM “a trusted colleague, mentor and friend for more than 25 years,” and “an instrumental force in our company.”
Fine remains bullish on local broadcast and its future. Netflix, Instagram and Facebook offer younger consumers compelling content, but are hardly invested in local news. “No one else is competing aggressively in the local area,” Fine said. “You really can’t get what local broadcast provides anywhere else.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.