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Steve Carlston On ‘Rebuilding the News Legacy’ at KNBC

Since taking over as president and general manager of KNBC in October 2011, Steve Carlston has been a busy man.

Carlston says the many changes under his watch at the NBC-owned station in Los Angeles have resulted in a significant improvement in the station’s “corporate culture.” He cites Comcast’s investment in local programming, as well as the leadership of NBC Universal president Steve Burke and NBC Owned Stations president Valari Staab.

“It’s hard to describe in a word, but it’s a better place to feel part of a team, it’s a more competitive environment than it’s ever been,” Carlston tells TVSpy. “They believe we can be the news leader again.”

If the changes at the station over the past eighteen months are any indication, Carlston clearly believes it, too. He has hired a new news director and assistant news director, strengthened the station’s investigative reporting team and expanded the weekend and midday newscasts.

He is also passionate about diversity, something KNBC was criticized for before his arrival. He has launched a weekly series, for which he serves as the executive producer, called LifeConnected. The reports, which celebrate differences and similarities across cultural lines, have become one of the station’s most rewarding projects, he says.

“What I’m hoping to do is to show that really we’re more the same than we are different, and the differences always make us stronger,” he said. “Probably the most rewarding thing is that the communities have embraced us and our reporters beg to do these stories.”

Outside of the on-air product, Carlston has also pushed the station to increase its online footprint. KNBC boasts more than 520,000 Facebook likes — the most of any local TV station in the nation. Carlston says more likes boosts web traffic, which will “in time” lead to more TV viewers. Case in point: the station had millions of page-views during the week-long Christopher Dorner manhunt, many referred by those half million Facebook friends.

Another change in the works: the KNBC’s move later this year from its longtime home in Burbank to a new facility on the Universal lot. But despite all the change, Carlston stays focused on consistency as he lays out the station’s goal for 2013: “We hope to be a much more consistent newscast, and also be able to basically rebuild the news legacy and bring the station back to number one.”

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