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Cheshire resident Klarn DePalma has spent his entire professional career with WFSB-TV in Hartford and now he has an honor to go with it.
When he graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1993, just five days later, he joined the CBS affiliate as an entry-level salesman. He later worked his way up the ranks as an account executive, sales manager, and general sales manager before landing in his current role. In 2005, DePalma was promoted to vice president and general manager of WFSB and, recently, he was recognized for his work by Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. DePalma, 40, was named the General Manager of the Year for markets between 26 and 50 by the publication. Hartford is the 30th largest media market in the country, while cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago sit atop the list.
According to a press release from WFSB, the award “honors local station executives who have provided exemplary innovation, fearless leadership, and flawless execution” in the television industry.
“I enjoy doing this job every day because we can make a difference every day and that’s a blast,” DePalma said. “I was honored to get this award. To be recognized by your peers, there is nothing better.”
While he is proud of the award, DePalma preferred to talk about other things the station has accomplished under his leadership. Earlier this year, in February, WFSB partnered with the Connecticut Police Chief’s Association and started the I-Promise campaign. I-Promise is a voluntary pledge to promise to not drive distracted and more than 15,000 people have signed on so far. Whether it’s talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device or texting, DePalma said the program is spreading across the world through Meredith Local Media Group, which owns WFSB and several other stations.
“It’s turned out to be a huge success for us,” DePalma said.
Also, text and e-mail alerts for school closings, delays, and early dismissals have been set up through their Web site, DePalma said, as just another way to serve Connecticut residents.
“It’s a free service because people want it and need it,” he said.
DePalma moved to Cheshire 11 years ago with his wife, who at the time had just given birth to the first of their three children. As a born-and-raised Connecticut native, DePalma said he likes working in Hartford and, even though he has had opportunities to move to different stations, he always wanted to stay close to home. He said that, in television, it is difficult to stay in one place and make a life, but he has “had luck in doing that.”
“I love Connecticut. I’m from here, my family is here, my friends are,’ he said. “If my family isn’t happy, my home life won’t be happy and work won’t be as good. I like to give back to the community and it’s hard to do that if you bounce around to multiple places.”
DePalma said he was proud of his work, because WFSB “dominates the market” and is the “most watched station in Connecticut.” Besides the television aspect of the business, the company’s Web site draws eight million views a month. Under DePalma’s leadership, Channel 3 has also partnered with Connecticut Public Television to form CTSN — Connecticut Sports Network — a 24/7 local channel dedicated to high school and collegiate sports. Some of Cheshire’s high school games have been broadcast through this medium, DePalma said.
“Channel 3 has been able to innovate and grow even during what has been a particularly challenging year,” DePalma said. “This honor would not have been possible without the tremendous talent and dedication of our employees. This award is the result of the entire station’s exceptional work.”
Paul Karpowicz, president of Meredith, said that DePalma has enhanced what WFSB has to offer, even when the market was trending down.
“He’s taken the great brand that he has with WFSB and extended that brand across multiple platforms,” Karpowicz said. “At a point when the market was really in decline, he found a way to maximize his opportunities by finding different places to put his content.”
DePalma is always trying to find ways to make a good thing even better. If you get comfortable and don’t adapt to changes, “you’ll be knocked from the top,” he said.
“You always have to reinvent yourself,” DePalma said.