My Turn

WICT Starts Week Strong

9/13/2010 3:23 PM

Some 700 people were at lunch today at WICT’s Leadership Conference, a potent start to the return of Cable Diversity Week in New York.

“Thank you for coming out en masse,” Women in Cable Telecommunications CEO Maria Brennan said at the New York Hilton noontime event, before Ruby Gettinger, star of Style Network’s Ruby, charmed said masses with a little bit of her personal story. Watching TV helped save her life, Gettinger said. A program about obese women inspired her to action that has led to her losing more than 400 pounds, from a weight of 716 pounds. She urged the network presidents in the audience to keep inspiring people to save their own lives.

The day began with a strong presentation by personal-finance TV star Suze Orman who gave personalized advice to people who attended her Q&A session (sadly I arrived too late to benefit). After that was a very interesting discussion about preparing for the “What ifs” in life, led by Comcast SVP of talent Grace Killelea. Her talented panelists included Time Warner Cable EVP Carol Hevey, who talked about taking on the challenge of first consolidating operations in TWC’s North and South Carolina systems, and then being told by company COO Landel Hobbs last September that she’d done such a good job, the company had decided to consolidate further, into two divisions, East and West, and that she would oversee the East. Just when things had settled down in the Carolinas, she said, “I am right back to where I was three years ago, having to do the same thing, much broader geography, much more complex, much more dynamic.” The East integration has merged the Maine and upstate New York operations with the Carolinas, and New York City will be integrated into it later this year, she said.

On the same panel, Nancy Dubuc, the president and GM of Lifetime Networks and History, talked about the challenges of combining the “old guard” of History with the “new guard” of Lifetime. She had overseen History before AETN absorbed Lifetime and she was picked in April to oversee them both. She compared it, usefully, with life at home with her 7-year-old and 4-year-old, each of whom might want to be read a night-time story first.

As I said, a strong start. And, unless WICT was being extremely conservative with me last week when the forecast was a turnout of around 500 people, the lunch turnout was simply amazing.

Diversity Week rolls on with WICT’s conference wrapping tomorrow, the NAMIC annual conference, the Walter Kaitz Foundation annual fundraising dinner Wednesday night and the ACC Forum 2010. For more about these great groups and the week’s events, please see this week’s Multichannel News.