Kathleen Finch is in her dream job: As a home-improvement veteran, she knows what fans of HGTV want to know and see. As senior vice president and GM of the network, she is also able to make sure they get it.
Finch leads all aspects of the channel ’s program development and product ion, and works closely with HGTV president Jim Samples on the overall strategic direction of the network. Her lengthy experience as a TV journalist gives her a storyteller’s perspective that resonates well with viewers. And her willingness to listen to everyone in the room sits well with her team and produces strong results.
“I can’t think of a more fun job to have,” Finch said. “I am one of those people who looks forward to Monday morning on Sunday evenings.”
She wasn’t always so confident that a corporate desk job would fit her personality or her professional needs. As a producer for CBS News, Finch spent 12 years trotting all over the globe, following the latest top story.
“I had a packed bag under my desk and had instructions to keep my passport on me at all times because I never knew when I was going to get a call to climb on a plane at a moment’s notice,” Finch said. “It was a lifestyle that I loved. But I had three kids and a journalist husband who also traveled. One of us had to make a change.”
Finch was terrified of being stuck in an office cubicle, though. And, as a native Manhattanite, she found the thought of living somewhere other than the big city to be a foreign concept (pun intended). But the folks at Scripps Networks Interactive quickly put her fears to rest.
She packed up her family and moved to Knoxville, Tenn., in 1998 to work at Food Network, where she served as senior vice president of primetime programming.
“I was scared to death to sit at a desk in an office all the time because I had never done that before,” Finch said. “But the job was thrilling. Scripps had just purchased Food and it was a network in need of some help. Judy Girard had just taken over. She was a powerful woman. I liked her and her vision. It looked interesting and fun. I had come from a good old boys environment at CBS, so this was so refreshing and invigorating.”
Finch would go on to create numerous hits for the fledgling network, including Unwrapped and Food Network Challenge. She also discovered on-air personalities Paula Deen and Sandra Lee. Those are among the reasons WICT has named her as a 2011 Woman to Watch.
Seven years after joining Scripps, Finch moved to DIY, leading the network into its initial Nielsen ratings period by securing exclusive cable rights to PBS stalwart This Old House, while also developing original series such as Yard Crashers and Renovation Realities. Her influence has been felt beyond her work at Food and DIY, as series she has developed now air on five of the six Scripps networks.
Finch was highly successful at Food and DIY, but since taking on her current role at HGTV in 2010, she’s been in hog heaven.
“[Interior design] is my passion,” she said. “I once added a whole addition to my house based on a kitchen knob. And our backyard relandscaping project started with a brown spot in the yard.
“When I am not making TV shows about home and garden design, I am watching TV shows about it. I love this job.”