CBS named veteran local media exec Joel Vilmenay president and general manager of CBS News and Stations’ businesses in Los Angeles several months after an internal investigation into racism and misogyny at the stations led to high-profile ousters in LA and Chicago.
Vilmenay’s portfolio includes KCBS-TV (CBS 2), KCAL-TV (KCAL 9), CBSN Los Angeles and website CBSLA.com, Wendy McMahon, president and co-head, CBS News and Stations, and Jennifer Mitchell, president, CBS Stations, said. Vilmenay, who joins CBS after 18 years with Hearst Television, will report directly to Mitchell starting Oct. 18.
He was most recently president and GM of WDSU-TV in New Orleans, named the state’s Station of the Year in 2020 by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters. He had a strong run there CBS said, and is a two-time winner of Hearst Television’s Best of Innovation Award.
He was one of 13 senior-level leaders named in January to the National Association of Broadcaster’s newly created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
The CBS probe led by law firm Proskauer Rose resulted in pink slips over the summer for general managers Jay Howell in Los Angeles and Derek Dalton in Chicago and a mea culpa from CBS Entertainment Group head George Cheeks.
“This has been a difficult period for everyone in the group,” said Cheeks. “The investigation cited painful revelations about experiences that we cannot tolerate today or in the future.”
“While the … issues revealed were more pronounced in certain areas and at specific stations than others, there are clear themes that we need to address moving forward: our diversity, equity and inclusion standards need to be a top priority for leadership in every corner of our Stations business; our workplace culture needs to measurably improve; and, your trust needs to be restored with your CBS leaders,” said in an internal memo at the time.
In today’s announcement, McMahon said, “We are pleased that our Los Angeles team is getting a solid leader like Joel, who is an innovator as well as a thoughtful provider of inspiration and calm,”
“As a broadcaster and proud Louisiana native, I admire Joel for the incredible poise and professionalism he has displayed the last 14 years in one of the busiest breaking news markets in the country. Beginning with his first days on the job in New Orleans, 18 months after Hurricane Katrina, and continuing most recently with Hurricane Ida, he has helped his colleagues and local community rise above the storm on countless occasions,” she said,
Vilmenay, who will relocate to Southern Calif., said he’s “especially pleased to come on board just as CBS News and Stations is taking shape as a newly combined entity. I consider this a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best in the business in front of a blank canvas and help create a brighter future for my colleagues, as well as our community and business partners.”
In April, in a major corporate reorg, CBS basically combined network and local news under one umbrella with CBS News, its digital streaming service, 10 local news platforms and the 28 CBS-owned stations in 17 major U.S. markets.