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These Are ‘Better’ Days For Meredith Exec

While big TV station groups typically have separate news and marketing VPs, Patrick McCreery has taken on both roles at Meredith Local Media. He has been on the fast track since joining Meredith as a producer at KPHO Phoenix a dozen years ago, moving up to GM in Portland, Ore., in 2008. McCreery’s commitment was shaped at a young age, as he watched his single mother tackle multiple jobs to feed and house them, pitching in to ease her burden after long days spent keeping prison inmates in line as a corrections officer.

“I think that’s where Patrick’s work ethic comes from,” says his mother, Cathy. “I really did want to set a good example for him.”

It worked. In mid-May, McCreery, 43, was promoted to the dual VP role— parlaying his knack for news and promotions to a post covering the whole of the growing Meredith station group. “It’s tough to find somebody with that skill set, and it’s a great combination to have,” says Paul Karpowicz, Meredith Local Media president. “I know he’ll do great things for Meredith.”

McCreery is pumped to perform on a national stage. “It’s an opportunity to be involved with my first love, which is news,” he says. “I like the challenge of making sure we remain relevant in this constant state of change.”

Two Against the World

McCreery never knew his father. His mother worked multiple jobs when he was a baby, cleaning offices and working the overnight shift at the post office before finding steadier work with Michigan’s Department of Corrections and later supervising a work release program for convicts.

Cathy took no guff from prisoners— or her son. “She is one tough lady,” says McCreery. “She used to practice her suppression holds on me.”

He dreamed of being on TV, interning at WTVG Toledo in high school and studying journalism at Ohio State. McCreery was on the air for several months at WTOL Toledo, and got some constructive, if a bit harsh, criticism from news director C.J. Beutien. “He said, ‘You want to keep doing this? Great. But you can’t do it here anymore,’” McCreery recalls with a laugh.

Beutien steered the ambitious young newsman to the other side of the camera. After producing at WTOL, KPIX San Francisco and KPHO, McCreery was promoted to assistant news director at KPTV Portland in 2003, and news director a year later. It was in Portland that he cocreated Better, which turned into a syndication hit for Meredith.

Kieran Clarke, then the KPTV-KPDX GM, knew he had something special in McCreery. When the Big Three affiliates would lead newscasts with a public official commenting on the story of the day, Fox affiliate KPTV led with a witness or a victim’s relative, offering a more personal perspective. “He’s very intelligent and a very quick learner,” says Clarke.

When Clarke was named president of Meredith Video Studios in 2008, McCreery got the top job in Portland. During his stint in Portland, KPTV went from five hours of news a day to 10, including expanding late news to 90 minutes— and grabbing audience from the Big Three stations at 11 p.m.

After Meredith’s acquisition of stations in Phoenix, St. Louis and Springfield, Mass., Karpowicz needed a hand at the group level. “Paul saw Patrick’s value from the beginning,” says Clarke.

McCreery aims to get local news and promotions working in “lockstep,” he says. While he regularly travels around the U.S., he’s now based out of KPHO, close to his wife’s parents in Phoenix. “It’s the rare opportunity in life to better your career and make your in-laws happy at the same time,” he says.

As with any move McCreery has made, Mom is along for the ride, too. “It’s always a package deal,” he says. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Neither would Cathy. She is abundantly proud of her son’s rapid rise up the ranks, though not entirely surprised. “I never doubted he’d be successful,” says Cathy. “I just thought it might take him a little longer.”