Graham Media Group, Inc., a Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC) subsidiary, announced Thursday (8/19) that Bob Ellis has been named Vice President and General Manager of WDIV, the NBC affiliate television station in Detroit, MI. Ellis replaces Marla Drutz, who announced her retirement earlier this year.
Since 2009, Bob Ellis has held the position of Vice President and General Manager at WJXT and added WCWJ duties in 2017 after GMG completed its acquisition of the CW station from Nexstar Broadcasting. He is returning to WDIV where he previously spent 15 years of his career in various management roles, including News Director.
Under Ellis’ leadership WJXT has widened the gap as the most-watched television station in Jacksonville. In 2013 Ellis was named General Manager of the Year for markets 25-50 by Broadcasting and Cable Magazine, the industry’s leading trade publication.
Emily Barr, President and Chief Executive Officer of Graham Media Group, said: “Bob is an innovative, creative leader who fully appreciates the role local media plays in informing, celebrating, and uplifting the communities served. He is also keenly aware of the importance of embracing digital and OTT strategies to further connect with our audiences and users on every platform available. His Michigan roots and deep knowledge and respect for his WDIV colleagues make him ideal for this important role.”
“When I was growing up, WDIV was my station. When I was coming up in the industry, WDIV is where I learned what it meant to produce great TV every day and serve a community,” said Ellis. “Today to come full circle and return to the place that’s meant so much to me throughout my life is incredible. I’m eager to re-join the talented team in Detroit, excited to get involved again in the Detroit community and I look forward to helping continue the legacy of this great, great station.”
Ellis has helped WJXT sharply focus its efforts to leverage their News4JAX news brand to its digital platforms. The station’s news4jax.com is Jacksonville’s number one source for local news and information, distancing itself from all other local media in the market including newspapers. In 2014 news4jax.com earned the national Edward R. Murrow award as the best local television website in the United States. On WCWJ, he has worked to strengthen its local brand in the market developing and launching several local programs including The Mark Brunell Show a weekly Jacksonville Jaguars football show featuring the former Jaguars Quarterback and JaxBest, a comprehensive local online guide to all the best places to see, eat, and experience Jacksonville.
Ellis has led WJXT in launching several innovative projects to emphasize its popular station brand, The Local Station. WJXT turned Jacksonville’s annual July 4th fireworks show into a prime-time television event celebrating the active and former military members at the two military bases located in the market. He also started PositivelyJax a station-wide project that inspires viewers by telling stories about people and organizations leading positive efforts to make Jacksonville a better place to live. The station has turned the market’s regional Spelling Bee into and prime-time broadcast event, televised the first-ever local high school musical to a prime-time audience, and created the Bold City Showcase, a one-day high school football event featuring six local teams in three games played on one field, all broadcast live on WJXT. In 2014 Ellis won the Station Excellence Emmy Award from the Suncoast chapter of National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
In addition to serving as News Director at WDIV, he held many other management roles there including Assistant News Director and Executive Producer of Special Projects. He began his TV career in sports, his first job was Producer of the football and basketball coach’s shows at Michigan State University. Ellis is an 11-time Emmy winner and has earned several regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and state broadcast association honors throughout his career.
In 2020 Ellis participated in 20th anniversary class of the National Association of Broadcasters Broadcast Leadership Training program. He also serves on the board of the Florida Association of Broadcasters.
Ellis is very active in the Jacksonville community. He is a Trustee with the Jacksonville Chamber, serves on the board of Goodwill Industries of North Florida, is a member of the advisory board of the Career Academies for the St. John’s County School District, is on the board of High School 9:12 a local organization helping to prepare students for college and is a board member for Take it to Heart a non-profit program in Jacksonville focused on educating minority women about heart disease. He is also a Trustee of the Jacksonville Chamber and a member of the Chairman’s Club for the Jacksonville Sports Council, the organization dedicated to generating economic impact and growth through sports in Jacksonville, including running the annual Gator Bowl college football game played each January.
A Michigan native, Ellis is a proud graduate of Michigan State University and holds a BA in Radio, Television, and Digital Communication. He and his wife Melanie have a daughter Abbey who attends the University of South Carolina and a son Cameron who attends the University of Tampa. Ellis begins his new role later this fall. The search for his replacement at WJXT is underway.