Lee Rosenthal, who as news director helped WXIN-TV Channel 59 more than double the airtime it devotes to news, is leaving to take the same position at KTVU-TV Channel 2 in San Francisco.
“It was just a tremendous opportunity at one of the best stations and newsrooms in the country," Rosenthal said of the KTVU position. "I love [WXIN]. It had to be something like that [KTVU] for me to leave.”
Rosenthal arrived in Indianapolis to work for Fox59 in early 2009. Under his tenure, the Fox affiliate added several weekday newscasts to its morning and early evening programming, increasing from 29.5 hours of news per week to 60 hours. It most recently added news coverage in the 6 p.m.-7 p.m. hour, bolstering its 4 p.m.-6 p.m. newscasts.
In an announcement to Fox59 staff on Monday, General Manager Larry Delia described the news of Rosenthal departing as "bittersweet." Rosenthal "led one of the greatest news expansion success cases in the country," Delia wrote.
Rosenthal, 33, is a native of West Caldwell, N.J, a suburb of New York City. He’s been a reporter, anchor, producer and executive producer in Columbus, Ohio, Binghamton, N.Y., Knoxville and Tampa. In 2012, he was named among IBJ's "Forty Under 40" class of high-achieving young professionals.
In addition to doubling its news content, Rosenthal helped bring ratings success to Fox59.
In the February sweeps period, WXIN increased its ratings for its 4:30 a.m. news by 550 percent, easily beating rival WTHR-TV Channel 13. WXIN also was No. 1 at 5 a.m. and at 5:30 a.m., according to Nielsen Media Research data. It was a close second to WTHR at 6 a.m.-7 a.m.
Not too many years ago “we were probably No. 4 in most time periods in the morning,” said Rosenthal.
The station ranked No. 2 with its news at 5 p.m.-6 p.m. Its late-night newscast at 10 p.m. airs an hour earlier than its competitors' half-hour late-night news shows, but its ratings are on par with those of its later rivals.
Delia said the station has made gains in the age 25-54 demographic in part by emphasizing a more casual delivery and on-air personalities that take themselves less seriously than those for the competition.
As Rosenthal prepares to depart Indianapolis, WTHR has filled its news director position left vacant since January. WTHR said Monday that Kathy Hostetter, who left the station in 2002 as executive producer, will become news director as of May 4.
Rosenthal's last day at WXIN will be April 12.