People familiar with his thinking said Liguori wanted to rebrand the station, which is currently available in about 75 million homes, according to SNL Kagan, an industry consulting firm.
"WGN is a unique asset with unique distribution," Ridge said. "Over time, WGN could return handsomely on their investment."
Liguori will face challenges beyond the television stations at Tribune. He must manage the varying agendas of the three major shareholders, who may have different investment strategies and timetables for exiting the company. People who have worked with Liguori say he is up to that task.
"Peter is an excellent strategist. He's not afraid to be bold or ask tough questions to push an organization forward," said Kevin Reilly, chairman of Fox Entertainment. "He has operated successfully in corporate environments in both robust times and challenging times."
Should Tribune's new owners eventually decide to sell the stations, finding a buyer could be tricky. Prospects such as CBS Corp. and News Corp. could run afoul of regulatory limits on the number of stations a company can own in the same market. Both News Corp.'s Fox and CBS already own two stations in the Los Angeles market, for example. Other companies that could be interested in the stations include Gannett Co. and Hearst Corp., both of which have similar television holdings.