David Lowe, President and General Manager KVIE, Sacramento, CA
What do you believe is currently the biggest challenge in public media?
Our content is an amazing treasure trove that more people need to find. We don’t have a content problem. We never have. We have an awareness problem. In a continuing fractured video environment, we need more people to find our content and keep coming back. We should be format agnostic and try to reach people when and where they are.
What is the best advice you have received from an employee?
It’s more a reminder than advice: When someone asks a question about something I think they should know, it reminds me that I’m not communicating enough. Just when you think you’re over communicating, you’re probably just at the point of communicating barely enough.
What is the best advice you have received from a CEO of another station?
All the advice I have benefitted from for KVIE has been the best. This is a tough one. We have so many talented CEOs in public media, so it’s hard to narrow down just one piece of advice. Some things that stick out to me right now are the reminders of our public media touchstones from Jon Abbott and the not so gentle drumbeat of getting out of the office in front of donors from Tom Karlo.
What is your favorite public television program and why?
FRONTLINE. It’s the veritable gold standard of investigative journalism. I’m always amazed at the depth of the films.
Any advice to those interested in a leadership position in public media?
• Always be learning
• Understand how to perform various levels of work. From the work mandated by SOPs, to the work that requires analysis and comparative analysis problem-solving.
• Understand our public media history, and be bold about our future.
• Spend time with strong leaders in public media
What are the top three leadership qualities you believe all CEOs should have?
To take from the book, The Ideal Team Player, I think everyone from the mailroom to the CEO office should be humble, hungry and smart. But the role of CEOs is to take the organization to a place where it otherwise wouldn’t have gone without them. When I worry about being complacent or thinking about what to do next, I ask myself, “If another CEO were to be helicoptered into my situation at this moment, what would he or she do?” Then I try to take that thinking and move ahead.
If you were not a CEO right now, what would you like to be?
I started my career as a technical writer before venturing into marketing & communications. I’d probably be making a living pointing out and changing all the overhead grocery aisle signs from “Stationary” to “Stationery.”
You can’t live without…?
It’s only a recent phenomenon, but I probably couldn’t live without the Amazon Echo I have near the shower. Since with my voice I shouldn’t be singing in the shower, it’s a wonderful thing to be able to call out any song I want.
What’s a hobby of yours?
I need a new one. I just spent 10 years helping manage my daughter’s travel softball teams. She’s now in college playing at the Division 1 level. I guess it’s time to pick up golf.
What’s your favorite song?
It would be so much easier to list a bunch of them, and I reserve the right to change this after saying it, but I’ll go with “Fade to Black” by Metallica.
Do you honestly like to be in business attire?
I live in California, so that should be a hint. The lack of business attire is so prevalent that when I dress up for a specific donor meeting, the question is almost always, “You didn’t dress up just for me, did you?”