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Klarn DePalma: WFSB's Homegrown Honcho

Klarn DePalma has spent his entire professional life—18 years—at WFSB Hartford. The East Haven, Conn., native started at the Meredith CBS affiliate as an entry-level salesperson in 1993, only five days after graduating from the University of Connecticut.

Now 40, the VP/general manager has been at the helm of ratings juggernaut WFSB since 2005, which for the past two years has been tops in every local news time period and delivers more than 45% of the adults 25-54 ratings in the market during 5-7 a.m. and 5-6:30 p.m.

When faced with tough economic times in recent years, DePalma sought new sources of revenue, partnering with Connecticut Public TV to form CTSN, a 24/7 local channel dedicated to coverage of high school and college sports. He also created a Fair! eld County sectional with WFSB’s digital stream, allowing the station to monetize a market outside its DMA.

“He’s taken the great brand that he has with WFSB and extended that brand across multiple platforms,” says Paul Karpowicz, president of Meredith Local Media Group. “At a point when the market was really in decline, he found a way to maximize his opportunities by finding different places to put his content.”

DePalma sees serving the public as an important part of his job. He’s particularly proud of the I-Promise campaign, launched in February 2010, in which the station partnered with the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association to raise awareness of distracted driving. “It’s turned out to be a huge success for us,” DePalma says. Since its launch, more than 15,000 people have taken the pledge, and the plan is to roll out I-Promise to all Meredith stations in 2011.

The WFSB team embraces technology to extend its brand; last year, the station’s Website sent more than 30 million eNews alerts to subscribers. “We thought we were actually cannibalizing ourselves by doing this,” DePalma says. “But if you promote it well, you can get people from your email blast to your newscast.” The station is also actively engaged on Facebook, with WFSB’s talent using the platform to promote their newscasts to more than 8,000 followers.

Karpowicz calls DePalma’s multiplatform approach critical to the continued success of the station. “We want to be there with relevant, important content whenever [viewers] need it, and on whatever platform they choose to get it,” Karpowicz says. “I think that’s precisely the foundation that they’ve set up, and that Klarn has really been the architect of, with WFSB.”