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Volume 27 No. 5
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Minding My Business With Pac-12 Networks Exec VP/Operations Jonathan Leess

Leess has over 3,000 songs on his phone, with
Steely Dan and The Boss among his favorites
Name: Jonathan Leess

Position: Pac-12 Networks Exec VP/Operations

Age: Would not disclose

Where I’m from: Long Island

Where I call home: S.F.

Focusing on right now: Revamped studio programming

Best advice: Be patient. Work hard. Try your best to avoid mistakes. There’s an old adage called measure twice, cut once.

Must for a new hire: I've had a long enough career -- starting at ABC Sports and working through CBS and a lot of startup divisions that I’ve built at all these companies over the years within these companies -- that I have had to hire and build many teams. What I look for is passion, ambition, and acumen in multitasking. Also, the ability to work with others within an established culture. 

Exec I most admire: CBS Television Stations Exec VP & COO DENNIS SWANSON. He was my boss at ABC Sports for 10 years, and I worked for him again at CBS. Dennis taught me the importance of how loyalty and teamwork can make all the difference in succeeding or failing at any endeavor. He taught me all about patience. One of the things he always said, and I think I realize it today, is "Always surround yourself with people who are smarter than you." 

Best book I’ve read this year: "Barbarian Days" by WILLIAM FINNEGAN. It really is a terrific book. It’s about how his passion for surfing played such a huge part in the success of his life. I was a surfer, well, I still am. I get out very occasionally.

First thing in the morning: I read the N.Y. Times every morning. I work out and then go out for coffee and read the Times before I go to work. I get the Times where I live, and on weekends I’ll read the hard paper, but I’m an online reader. 

Talking tech: We’re pushing what’s called IP Networking. At all of our venues, all of our schools and all of the remotes that we produce, we send all of our video and audio signals, we compress it from video and audio into data. Then we feed it through i2 networks. So we actually turn it into an internet data signal, and we feed that data back here, and then we decode the encoded data and turn it back into video and audio. What that allows us to do is not have to use satellite feeds and not have to have any delay. It’s very cost effective and it’s at the speed of light. 

Must have music: I have my headphones on every morning and evening walking to and from work, listening to a collection of about 3,000 songs on my phone. I’m kind of eclectic. I love STEVIE WONDER, STEELY DAN, THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND, COUNT BASIE, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG.

Food for thought: I love to cook, but I leave it up to my wife. She’s a ten-times better cook than I am. I’m a short-order cook. If 20 people show up in the morning, I can cook them all eggs, waffles, bacon, omelets to order, toast and everything coming out exactly at the same time with one kitchen, I can do that. 

How I unwind: I love to golf, I love to hike, I surf occasionally and I love to watch live sports. I’ll always have sports on to unwind if I’m sitting inside.

Day in the life: My day is always non-stop. Sometimes it’s seven days a week depending on the month of the season between planning and operating and hiring and organizing off of program schedule. But once we go to air, I try and stay in touch and monitor everything. A lot of shows will run into other shows, so coordinating with our coordinating producers, coordinating seven networks and as many as 12 events in one day going live across the networks is daunting for a coordinating producer and all the producers and directors out in the field and the studios. It falls under my responsibility to make sure they’re communicating and that if anything happens, they’ve got support.