This summer, we’re putting a spotlight on the industry’s top producers; getting the inside story about their shows, how they got to where they are, and advice they have for future TV journalists.
Heading toward her fourth decade in TV news, Kathy O’Hearn embraced a new challenge this year when she joined MSNBC as executive producer to 26-year-old Ronan Farrow‘s new show. “We just hit it off immediately,” O’Hearn tells TVNewser. “It was one one of those great moments that you get only a couple times in your career when you really connect with the way someone thinks and how they think.” O’Hearn’s career has included many big moments and stories at CBS News, ABC News, CNN, CNBC, The Daily Beast, and now, MSNBC.
TVNewser: You started in TV news in the mid 70′s. What’s the biggest thing about the industry that’s changed and how have you adapted?
O’Hearn: The thing that I think is the most pronounced change is how all the cable networks have become bigger players. I started back when CNN had to fight to even get in the White House coverage pool [when I was at CBS]. And to watch how the cable networks are really powerful in terms of who they influence, who watches them, and the amount of news that they bring to the American public is a fascinating arc to experience.
TVNewser: You temporarily left the TV news business in 2010 to go digital as head of video at The Daily Beast. As a TV news lifer, how did you adapt to digital?
O’Hearn: It was fascinating. I was lucky enough to work with a very impressive, savvy group of writers and minds in any kind of newsroom and Tina Brown. To take the skill-set I learned in the television world into the digital side was exciting. I learned a lot; I had done a fair amount of digital production for ABC (“The Greenroom,” “Topline”), so it was exciting to try and figure out how to translate that across a series of programs and products and how to craft it so that it’s successful and reflects the brand. It was like going to school in online video.
TVNewser: Was there a learning curve?