Subject: Ken “KC” Estenson
Job title: Senior VP and GM of CNN.com, responsible for all aspects of CNN.com’s business endeavors. Named to this position in September 2008, Estenson is based in CNN’s world headquarters in Atlanta and reports to Susan Grant, executive vice president of CNN News Services. Previously employed: The Walt Disney Company, where Estenson oversaw the digital media businesses Disney’s cable networks including Disney Channel Worldwide, SOAPnet and ABC Family. In 2007, Estenson received a Primetime Emmy® Award for Excellence in Interactive Television Programming for ABC Family’s Fallen Alternate Reality Game. Location of breakfast interview: Four Seasons Hotel, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Where he lives: Atlanta since 2008 Born: Portland, Ore. until age 3 Formative years: Sacramento, Calif. “It’s a cool little city. I look back with such jealousy and envy. So whatever, I can hike in the Sierra’s on a Tuesday afternoon, I would die to do that. People say Atlanta’s got great access to the outdoors. It really doesn’t. The thing about Atlanta is it’s got a real rebel soul to it, really good restaurants, they like to party, people are really nice and it’s a football crazy city. You get the four seasons (not the hotel), and that airport will get you anywhere in the world. It’s not an airport to love, it’s just an airport that gets you where it needs you to go.” Smarty-pants: B.A. in political science with honors from St. Mary’s College of California; the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He also earned a master’s of education from Harvard University.
Thoughts on Facebook: No. Here’s my thing with Facebook. When I first came to CNN, I was heavily spammed by political extremists and so I severely curtailed my Facebook interaction. Before I came to CNN, I had donated money to a campaign, and as a matter of course at CNN, we don’t have formal affiliations. When I joined I had to write the campaign and ask for my money back to be clean and clear. They happily refunded by 50 dollars. I had friended the campaign and they put a badge on my page. So we get contacted all the time, from advocacy groups. They seem to think I have control over what CNN puts on its programs. I started getting emails and phone calls, and then on Facebook, 800 to 1000 friends. There’s so many people on there, you don’t know who’s in there. So I locked it up to be as private as I can. I use it only to calibrate Faceboook usage of other sites. No updates. Twitter habits: I do tweet. I use Twitter more than Facebook. So you were getting harassed. This was back in ‘09. So, yes. But I also feel like I get harassed when [CNN digital publicist] Matt Dornic texts me.
What’s your guilty TV watching pleasure? Game of Thrones, Homeland, Top Chef, Bravo real estate shows, I have two TVs in my office, they are on all the time. I absolutely love TV, but I consume it in a playlisted time-shifted way along with live sports and live news. I love the X Factor. I watch it with my kids. I watch The Voice. I like Christina Aguilera, she’s cute. And Adam. And Blake.
Washington, D.C.: “I actually really do like it here. I usually make a couple trips up here a year. Due to the nature of my work, I go to San Francisco a lot more with the technology as well as New York. I feel refreshed by the people I get to hang out with when I visit. Everyone here is really smart and really into our country, they’re plugged in, informed. You don’t get that broad based person in other cities. The people I hang out with in San Francisco do not watch television.” Hotel of choice: Four Seasons and the Ritz with Sports Club LA. Georgetown is my favorite part of D.C. I like it’s history, character, shops, running on the canal.
Managing digital employees around the world: We place our digital people globally, in, for example, London, Hong Kong, and Dubai. I manage 250-300 employees, so I travel a ton. Sadly, Washington is not a city I get to as much as I like, but CNN obviously has a big presence here. List your gadgets: iphone5, ipad, Samsung Galaxy 3s, Macbook Air. I do not use a PC in any shape or form. I like to make sure CNN is working on all platforms. High end set of headphones.
How do you feel about CNN being compared to Fox News and MSNBC? I don’t look at them at all as competition to CNN digital. When you look at sum total of CNN, they are in different leagues. CNN far surpasses what Fox does, and certainly MSNBC as well. As far as political position, I like CNN’s stance. I think it’s respected for being non-partisan. Does it amaze you that Fox News earns such high ratings? No. All the more conservative people watch more television. Younger, better traveled, more integrated people are not watching television as much in primetime. Those people who are living interesting lives are out living those interesting lives. They’re out at a play or to a movie. I honestly think that is in some ways why The Daily Show and Colbert come on so late.
A look into your crystal ball… Read more