Cheskin Named Travel GM


Discovery Networks U.S. has turned in-house to find a new general manager for Travel Channel, promoting The Learning Channel's Steven Cheskin to fill the slot.

Cheskin, a 15-year Discovery veteran, replaces Jay Feldman, who left Travel earlier this year.

Cheskin will be responsible for overseeing all programming, management, business development and operations for Travel, which now reaches 41 million subscribers. Most recently, he served as TLC's vice president of programming.

"Steve was a member of the senior management team that has made TLC one of the hottest channels on cable," Discovery Networks president Johnathan Rodgers said in a prepared statement. "He has the experience, instincts and drive to take the Travel Channel brand to the next level, both on- and off-screen."

Cheskin, who started his new job last week, said he's evaluating Travel's schedule to learn what has performed well and what has not. "Then I will put a bit of my stamp on where Travel Channel should go," he added.

Initially, he plans to put more of an emphasis on shows about popular destinations-such as Las Vegas, London and Hawaii-rather than more exotic locations.

"Those places tend to pop in the ratings," Cheskin said. "And you can find different ways to tell the story."

Cheskin joined Discovery three months before Discovery Channel's launch in June 1985. During his six-year stint at TLC, he helped to broaden the scope of the network while building its audience among 25- to 54-year-olds, which is also Travel's demographic.

At TLC, Cheskin developed a vertical primetime schedule with a strip called "Adrenaline Rush Hour," which included the network's highest-rated series, Trauma: Life in the ER. He said he was happy to see that Travel was moving that kind of "vertical stacking" on its lineup already.

Cheskin also conceived the stunt-scheduling strategy-projects such as "Shark Week"-at Discovery Channel, where he was director of programming before going to work for TLC. He spent nine years at TLC's sister service.