ABC O&O KGO-7 in San Francisco isn’t the only television station owned by The Walt Disney Co. to get a new leader.
Debra O’Connell, most recently EVP/Sales & Marketing of Disney|ABC’s consolidated advertising sales group, has been appointed President/GM of WABC-7 in New York.
WABC-7 is the most-watched local TV station in the nation, and in her new role O’Connell will take overall management responsibility for the Nielsen ratings stalwart.
This includes oversight of Live with Kelly and Ryan, which originated as a local morning show starring Regis Philbin in 1983 and is still produced by the station.
O’Connell will start at WABC immediately but will simultaneously remain involved and help transition her responsibilities related to the Disney|ABC Advertising Sales organization.
“It is a wonderful privilege to be given the opportunity to lead the exceptional team at WABC,” O’Connell said. “I have a true passion for local television, its connection to the community and the people we serve. Year after year, our viewers have made Channel 7 the most watched station in New York and the nation, and we will continue to earn their trust by always delivering the best local news coverage in the market.
“As I look ahead to this exciting new chapter, I’d be remiss if I did not acknowledge my past 14 months with the Disney|ABC Sales team,” she continued. “I am so proud of what we accomplished together and know they will continue to drive the media business forward.”
O’Connell earned her most recent role in 2017 after spending three years as President/ National TV Sales for the ABC Owned Stations Group.
But, she is no stranger to WABC-7, as is the station’s former VP/Marketing.
O’Connell joined the Group’s television division in 1999 after working at ABC Radio in Sales and Marketing.
She began her career as an account executive for two of Liberty Broadcasting’s radio stations.