John Wallace, a 19-year veteran of NBC, is the new president of NBC Owned-and-Operated Television Stations, the network’s 10-station English-language group. He reports to NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker.
Word is expected this week on the leadership of the Spanish-language stations owned by NBC. Those stations also used to report to Mr. Wallace’s predecessor, Jay Ireland, who recently returned to NBCU parent company General Electric as president and CEO of GE Asset Management.
Mr. Wallace was a local sales manager for WCAU-TV, the NBC-owned station in Philadelphia, and held several positions within the NBC stations group.
As part of his most recent assignment, as executive VP of television operations and production services, he oversaw the redesign of the studio, set and HD technical facilities for “Today” and “Saturday Night Live” and planned the network’s multichannel coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.
TelevisionWeek National Editor Michele Greppi talked with Mr. Wallace, 41, after the announcement of his promotion. An edited transcript of the interview follows.
TelevisionWeek: You started at NBC as a page. What was your career goal on your first day, and how did your time as a page change that?
John Wallace: I, believe it or not, had desires of being a sportscaster. The page program gave me great exposure to the business side of NBC. About midway through the page program, I realized I wanted to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, and I really started to channel my interests in the business side of the media.
TVWeek: What made you change your mind? Was it realizing that there was more job security behind the camera?
Mr. Wallace: It just felt right to me. I liked it. I really liked the TV business and I found that — not that I would ever necessarily have become a sportscaster — I felt that the business side was more interesting to me in types of the opportunities you could have, and my career has demonstrated that.
TVWeek: As a young man, which you still are, did you practice sportscasting? Was there a particular sport you felt you would be really good at?
Mr. Wallace: I had a tape at one point. Baseball was always my sport.
Mr. Wallace: New York Yankees fan.
TVWeek: What was your most memorable day as a page?
Mr. Wallace: I was featured on the “Letterman” show. He wrestled me off the stage and out of the studio completely, and the cameras followed me to the elevator bank.
TVWeek: What was your alleged offense?
Mr. Wallace: He claimed I had locked him out of the studio, which I had not. So as soon as he got back in he wrestled me and threw me out.
TVWeek: How many of your friends and family saw that?
Mr. Wallace: Just about all of them.
TVWeek: Had you called them?
Mr. Wallace: Oh, yeah.
[Read More of the Interview at: TV Week]