SBJ/April 8-14, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Spotlight: Virginia Hunt, executive director of programming, Tennis Channel

Tennis Channel’s Hunt tells job seekers: Know your math

Virginia Hunt has spent her career in the television industry working at stations throughout the Los Angeles market. With her stops at various stations, she has been involved with sports programming ranging from USC and UCLA collegiate athletics to the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, Clippers and Kings. Now she will be focusing on one sport, tennis, as the executive director of programming for Tennis Channel. Hunt spoke with staff writer Brandon McClung.

Age: 62
New title: Executive director, programming, Tennis Channel
Previous title: Director of programming, KCBS-TV and KTLA-TV, Los Angeles
First job: Doughnut shop assistant — 5 a.m. before school, and, yes, we served police free.
Education: Bachelor of science, mathematics, San Francisco State University (1973)
Resides: Burbank, Calif.
Executive most admired: Greg Nathanson, Emmis Communications
Last book read: “Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry,” by Helaine Olen
Favorite movie: “The Hurt Locker”
Favorite musician/band: Jackson Browne


How is focusing on one sport going to be different?
Tennis is actually different for a very cool reason: Most of the sports we covered were all male-dominated sports in a lot of ways, but I have been a fan of tennis as a viewer and I really appreciate the gender balance that tennis offers. … More than just players, it is a gender balance of fans but also our viewers.

What will be the biggest challenge in your new position?
Taking advantage of the gender balance. How do we maximize that? How do we make that into what it really is and take advantage of every aspect? … There are 3 R’s: ratings, revenue and relevance. My challenge is to take those 3 R’s and tie it back into [Tennis Channel slogan] Where Champions Live.

How do you plan to implement that?
Tennis Channel has already acquired all the key tournaments that have been available. … Now it is just how to make this picture a little prettier. Prettier in the sense that it opens up viewers, fans and distributors.

What is your biggest professional accomplishment?
While I was CFO, in 1989, I was KTLA’s employee of the year. Over the years I have won local Emmys, launched shows, negotiated significant rights contracts, but nothing is a bigger accomplishment to me than to be honored by my peers.

What career advice do you have for people wanting into the sports industry?
The No. 1 thing you need to understand is that this is a business. We are a business that needs to know [it] is going to be profitable. … So I always strongly suggest get a good solid foundation in your education, which means know your math.

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