SBJ/October 8-14, 2012/Game Changers

Game Changers: Lydia Murphy-Stephans

Photo: KELLEY L. COX / KLCFOTOS.COM
Murphy-Stephans put a personal touch on Pac-12
programming.
Lydia Murphy-Stephans
Pac-12 Networks
EVP, General Manager

On the set of the Pac-12 Networks’ magazine show “Conference of Champions,” a trophy case sits in the background. When the show debuted in August, there was one slight problem: The network didn’t have any trophies to fill the case. A show about champions needs trophies on the set, so Lydia Murphy-Stephans, the network’s general manager (and a former Olympic speedskater), brought a box of trophies from home to give the set a more authentic look. It’s one of just a few boxes she’s gotten around to unpacking since she was hired 10 months ago to launch a national network and six regional networks.

“This is so unique because it’s not one network, it’s seven networks, and it was being fast-tracked to condense 18 months of preparation into nine months,” Murphy-Stephans said. “It’s been challenging, invigorating, exciting, collaborative. It’s been pushing out the boundaries wherever we can.”

It also gives Murphy-Stephans, who skated in the 1984 Olympics, the opportunity to present a balance of programming that’s roughly half men’s sports and half women’s sports.

“It shows, first of all, what really strong women’s sports we have in the Pac-12,” she said. “And on the 40th anniversary of Title IX, we’re seeing the effects of what can happen when young girls are encouraged to participate in sports. And it’s all happened organically. We looked at our strongest programming schedule, and this is how it came out.”
— Michael Smith
  • Crowning professional achievement: Being a part of the senior management team responsible for overseeing the launch of the Pac-12 Networks and now being the head of the networks.
  • Biggest professional disappointment: Being told I wasn’t considered for a promotion because I was a woman
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Jim McKay. For all his successes, fame and travels, he remained a vulnerable, humble and genuinely nice person.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is: Being one of the few women in a leadership position.
  • One attribute I look for when hiring is …: Commitment.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“Lydia was the perfect choice for us to run the Pac-12 Networks. Her vast experience in programming and production at both established and new networks was just the right combination for us. It certainly doesn’t hurt that she was an Olympian on top of all that.”

  • Gary Stevenson, president, Pac-12 Enterprises
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