WCHL radio owner Barry Leffler leaving Chapel Hill for Texas

tgrubb@newsobserver.comJanuary 7, 2014 

— Community radio station owner Barry Leffler is leaving WCHL for a new post marketing health care services nationwide.

Tenet Healthcare Corp., based in Dallas, has hired Leffler as its vice president of marketing and strategy.

The Fortune 200 company operates 77 hospitals nationwide, 176 outpatient centers and Conifer Health Solutions, a business health care subsidiary. The company’s 2013 revenues are expected to top $2 billion.

Although Leffler will report soon to his new job, the move won’t be permanent until summer, he said. His family – wife Donnabeth and son Josh – will stay behind so his son can finish the school year.

Leffler said in an email that he will spend weekends in Chapel Hill until the move becomes permanent.

Since 2009, Leffler has been the chief executive officer and managing partner of Chapel Hill radio station WCHL, broadcasting at the 1360 AM and 97.9 FM frequencies. He and a group of investors bought a minority stake in the station that year from former owner Jim Heavner; Leffler eventually bought out Heavner’s share of the business.

Heavner is the owner of Vilcom Inc., the parent company of WCHL and its website Chapelboro.com. He was not available for comment Tuesday.

Under Leffler’s guidance, the station expanded its reach by adding the FM channel, more local news time and the Chapelboro website. WCHL also provides extensive coverage of UNC and local high school sports.

Leffler has been active in the community, serving last year as chairman of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce and on the N.C. Museum of Art Foundation Board.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said the news is great for Leffler and not a surprise, but it is a loss for the community.

“It’s hard to think about Barry and not think about his enormous contribution to our community through the radio station,” Kleinschmidt said. “He’s had a hand in important issues that developed in the community ... in ways we didn’t think was possible.”

Leffler started his career in the news department of TV station WSVN in Miami, working 14 years for NBC stations. From Miami, he moved to London and then New York, where he was NBC’s vice president for retail operations and consumer marketing.

In 2005, Leffler moved to Raleigh to be the general manager for TV station NBC-17, where he also led a significant expansion.

He has received numerous awards, including eight Emmys for various projects at WNCN, WTVJ and WSVN, and both the silver and gold Promax Medallions for outstanding promotional efforts.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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