THE BACK STORY
Linda Levy and Jan Allen are the principals and founders of The NWT Group.
Back in the day of big shoulder pads and even bigger hair, they were among the first female news directors in the country. It was inevitable they would become friends.
They also found themselves making nationwide reputations for overseeing successful turnaround situations in the newsrooms they headed up.
Linda Levy has been a News Director in markets ranging from large...including the top ten market at KTVT, the CBS O&O in Dallas ...to medium, including WKBW in Buffalo, WDSU in New Orleans and KOCO in Oklahoma City...to small, such as KATC in Lafayette, LA.
She's also worked in news at the corporate level, as Director of News Services for Belo. In that role, she oversaw shared coverage of major news events, including the Oklahoma City bombing to hurricanes to the '96 Presidential campaign.
Her coverage of the big stories got noticed. When describing WDSU's coverage of a nationally watched gubernatorial election, The Times Picayune told its readers to "keep an eye on...News Director Linda Levy…who seems determined to stir things up." The newspaper also recognized WDSU as "the market leader in special campaign coverage." In fact, C-Span carried the station's election night coverage. This made Linda's parents very happy because they were finally able to figure out what she did for a living.
Linda has local programming experience too. While at Belo, she served as one of the Senior Producers of "Prime Time Texas", a weekly newsmagazine that aired in several markets in the state. Linda was also the Director of News and Local Programming for WKBW in Buffalo. And she was the Director of News Programming for Bay News 9 in Tampa, which included Bay News 9 and Bay News 9 en espanol and Bay News 9.com.
Linda also served as a faculty member of the Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media, which was formed by The National Judicial College. Its goal is to better communications between judges and journalists through seminars and workshops. In addition, Linda served as a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
Jan Allen has been called everything from the "queen of the turnarounds" to a" hired gun." And, well, some other things she just doesn't want to talk about.
Jan was Vice-President and Station Manager of KATU in Portland, Oregon, where she was responsible for News, Creative Services, Design, Operations, I.S., and Local Programming. Local shows were the daily morning talker "A.M. Northwest" and the weekly "Town Hall". The name says it all.
She was News Director at KATU for a year prior to her promotion.
Former Fisher Broadcasting CEO Pat Scott called Jan "a passionate manager who cares about people and results."
One of her most exciting turnarounds was when she was News Director at KXTV in Sacramento. She feels her team accomplished a lot in her 14 month tenure.
The Sacramento Bee said "Perennial TV powerhouse KCRA is feeling the hot breath of KXTV in what has become the first legitimate race for number one in the history of Sacramento television," Another article announced "Channel 10's evening newscast makes historic rating jump"
She was Managing Editor at KOMO-TV where she was part of a great group that took the station from third to first place in all major newscasts. The Seattle Weekly had this to say about her departure:
"A class act heads south…Jan Allen's 5 years as assistant news director set her apart-as did her respected news judgment and what a former staffer calls her ability to get the work done and still be human being"
Jan's luck held out at KREM-TV in Spokane where she was News Director for 3 years.
"For the first time in Channel Two's 30 year history, KREM 2 News is the top rated television news show." Spokane Business Examiner
Jan knows what it's like to be in front of the camera, too. She started her stint at WJIM-TV in Lansing as an anchor/reporter/weather bunny. After a few years, she was promoted to News Director where she took the station to number one for the first time ever.
She began her broadcasting at WWTV in Cadillac, Michigan where she was an anchor/reporter and generally a one- man band.
There's been recognition and awards too. When Linda was News Director at KTVT, the station was cited by the Pew Center's "Project for Excellent in Journalism" as the #1 major market late newscast in the country. KTVT also was awarded a Heartland Emmy for Outstanding Daily news coverage as well. Another Emmy came to "Prime Time Texas".
Jan can't remember exactly how many awards her organizations have won. But there have been dozens and dozens. Some that stand out: Best Newscast at KOMO 4 out of 5 years from the Emmy folks, 2 consecutive years winning N.P.P.A. Station of the Year, National Best Newscast from UPI, also at KOMO, and National Edward R. Murrow Award for Continuing Coverage at KATU.
But probably the most exciting was the Emmy race in California.
Sacramento was being judged alongside the number 5 market, San Francisco. And guess who won Best Newscast? Little ol' Sacramento. That was huge.
But it's not about the awards. As we mentioned earlier, Jan and Linda specialized in coming into newsrooms, raising the bar, improving the product, building great teams, and raising the ratings.
They take that same turnaround approach in working with those looking to The NWT Group for guidance. Their goal: Help you improve your journalistic skills.
For them, it's not about your job…it's about your career. It's about passion for doing the best every day…all day. Without whining.
Nancy Shafran has been working for television stations for more than twenty five years but now prefers being thought of as a news coach, new job negotiator, or career development counselor. Nancy's background as a news manager, which included discovering, hiring, and developing talent, prepared her for all these things…and more.
Nancy spent twelve years as News Director at KPRC-TV in Houston. She helped turn a sleepy, non-competitive newsroom into an aggressive operation that thrived on live breaking news, weather coverage, and enterprise reporting.
Her efforts were recognized by winning Best Newscast by the Houston Press Club (a statewide competition) eleven out of the twelve years she was at the helm of the newsroom. The station, known for its graphic intensive and fast paced approach to news, also was consistently recognized for its talented reporting and storytelling. During her years there, the station won a coveted Peabody Award for an investigative series. There were countless awards from the Dallas Press Club, Associated Press, and other groups. Nancy helped prove that a cutting edge, contemporary newscast could also be a showcase for quality journalism.
Before coming to KPRC, Nancy spent almost fourteen years at WJXT-TV in Jacksonville, Florida. She started there as an entry-level producer, initially on the noon newscast…progressing through the 6PM and 11PM shows. (While she produced the six, it was the highest rated 6PM newscast in the country.) She also worked the assignment desk. As she climbed the management ranks to the job of News Director, Nancy learned the ins and outs of t-v news. She was fortunate to work with some of the best in the business both in front of and behind the camera.
In addition to producing newscasts at WJXT, Nancy produced documentaries that won two prestigious Columbia-DuPont Awards and three Emmy Awards. More important, these programs affected positive change in the city. (Yes, Nancy still believes in the adage we should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.)
Nancy graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism. She was a paid teaching assistant at KOMU-TV, the NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri. Her first job after graduation was at CNN in Atlanta.
The news business has changed in countless ways since Nancy walked into her first newsroom, but Nancy still loves News…still loves finding new talent…and loves seeing them succeed.
David Christopher has more than 35-years of broadcast news experience as an Anchor/Reporter, Investigative Reporter and Executive News Director. David's extensive background as a major market journalist and executive news director provides a critical blend of skills to address all expectations and concerns. As part of The NWT Group, he brings decades of experience to select, guide, mentor, coach and negotiate contracts for the next generation of broadcast news journalists.
As a large market Executive News Director, David has developed a reputation as a "turn-around specialist" and a top talent coach.
David's on-camera reporting career began at the typical small market hole-in-the-wall in Wyoming as a one-man band, producer, editor, photographer, window-washer …you get the picture. During the next 20-years he rapidly moved up in markets as an Anchor/Reporter in markets ranging from Arizona to Illinois… finally joining the FOX O & O in Dallas as an Investigative Reporter and Anchor.
He covered most major news events during his more than 20 years of reporting and anchoring. Then, (in a moment some call temporary insanity) he decided it was time to explore the next chapter in his career as a News Director. The goal was to utilize decades of experience and work with young journalists to build some of the best newsrooms in the country.
David turned a small market station in Tennessee into the highest rated ABC-Affiliate in America; went on to southern Illinois and turned three co-owned news operations into market leaders that for the past five years have won every award possible including "outstanding news operation in state," "best newscast in state," and "top investigative reporting." He has built newsrooms from the ground up, hiring and coaching entire staffs and launching new newscasts that rapidly defeated long-standing legacy stations. In West Palm Beach, David rebuilt the entire news operations at CBS-12 and FOX 29 and in less than one year turned both stations into strong news organizations.
Along the way his work has been consistently recognized with more than 75-Local, State, Regional and National awards for "Excellence in Broadcast Journalism." However, the largest accomplishment in his career was not winning awards but working as an investigative journalist to expose corruption, chase crooked politicians, solve a few previously unsolved murders -- and the crowning jewel -- a series of undercover investigative reports documenting how people across the Southwestern United States were dying from misfiled prescriptions. That series is credited with saving countless lives and changed pharmacy laws across the United States.
David knows first-hand about the struggles facing today's newsrooms and management challenges…"to be successful in today's rapidly changing newsrooms you need to understand we are all being asked to do more with less resources than ever before. Managers have no time for whining talent but at the same time valuable talent needs to be rewarded and compensated for what they bring to the team."
Carolyn Kane will tell you the first thing you need to know about her is that she loves great story telling. Great story telling begins with the storytellers. Carolyn has made a career coaching reporters, anchors and other on-air folks, helping them reach their potential. Her background in television news, entertainment, programming and production has her poised to help guide careers.
Carolyn is a nationally recognized award winning journalist, whose versatility has won her accolades from investigative reporting to children’s programming. Her 25-year career has spanned both news and entertainment programming.
As the VP of Content (News Director) at KDVR/ FOX 31 and KWGN/CW2 in Denver she oversaw all aspects of the duopoly’s News departments. Its combined staff comprised one of the largest newsrooms in Colorado and produced 70 hours of live news and entertainment programming each week.
Carolyn started her career in news as an intern at WCMH (NBC) in Columbus, Ohio. She left 11 years later as the assistant news director. Along the way she worked as an assignment editor… moving up through the ranks as a producer, leading an investigative team, and eventually becoming the #2 manager in the shop.
She left Columbus for her first news director job in Tucson, AZ. Her efforts there reshaped the newsroom into a competitive force in the market, growing ratings and the station’s profile. Carolyn assembled the most aggressive and talented news team in Tucson, with most of her hired reporters jumping to top 5 markets after her tutelage.
Carolyn's next stop was San Francisco, where she expanded her horizons into entertainment programming. She was the Vice President and Executive Producer of Programming for Tech TV, a national cable channel covering everything about the technology lifestyle. She was charged with transforming a sleepy half hour news program into a successful live 9-hour show called “Tech Live,” the nation’s only live daily technology newscast. She also developed the weekly gadget magazine “Fresh Gear”.
Carolyn also developed entertainment programming like the motion picture visual effects series “Movie FanatiX,” the make-over reality show “Geek Chic,” and the wildly entertaining racing events series “Let 'er Rip.”
From Tech TV, Carolyn led an entertainment production company specializing in reality-based TV, with an edgy, irreverent style. She produced TV shows for cable TV, and large-scale events like the Visual Effects Awards, considered the “Oscars” for visual effects artists.
With a firm belief in the changing role technology has on our business, Carolyn helped launch an online network for young urban women at TheFempire.com. She created programming, and led the scouting and development of talent for the network’s many entertainment and lifestyle shows.
No matter what the venue, Carolyn knows that our industry is ever changing, but that content is king, and the people creating the content are one of the industry's most valuable assets.
Sandra Forero-Richards is experienced in multi-platform journalism-having worked in both television and newspapers as a Reporter, Assignments Manager and News Director. Her inquisitive journalistic style not only resulted in promotions throughout her career, it also garnered the attention of leaders in the community. (She was once called a barracuda by a county official. She prefers to take that as a compliment.)
Sandra was the News Director for 14 years at KRIS (NBC) in Corpus Christi, Texas. During her tenure, she was able to turn a non-competitive newsroom into the #1 station in the market. Her ability to train young journalists was one key component to her success.
Born in Colombia, South America, Sandra and her family migrated to Sacramento, California. Her roots enabled her to land her first job as a freelance writer in Houston for the New York Times. Being bilingual in Spanish, she interviewed undocumented workers from Central and South America for a comprehensive article on immigration. During that time, Sandra received her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism at the University of Houston where she graduated with honors.
She was immediately hired to work for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times Newspaper. While there, Sandra’s digging and tenacity (she never allowed “no comment” to stop her from getting the answers) prompted the city council to change its procedure for selecting a police chief. Her curiosity also caused the police department to re-open an investigation into a death that at first was ruled “natural causes.” Because of her persistence in the case, the death was later determined to be a homicide.
Four years later, Sandra tried her hand as an Account Executive for KORO, the Univision affiliate in Corpus Christi. But she quickly discovered that her passion for news was still strong and made the “frightening” decision to get in front of the camera. The NBC station didn’t hesitate to snatch her up, making her the lead reporter. Before long, she was filling in on the assignments desk and was soon offered the position full time. Less than two years later, she was promoted to News Director.
Under Sandra’s leadership, KRIS won numerous awards including Best Investigative Story from the Associated Press. She is known for helping young journalists move along in their careers. Members of her staff have jumped from Corpus Christi to top markets such as Dallas, Orlando, Nashville, Las Vegas and Kansas City.
During the last three years of Sandra’s tenure at KRIS, the station also acquired KZTV (CBS). She was in charge of News and Operations for two different stations that had two different brands. She created new and exclusive content for KZTV, which resulted in the best ratings in the history of KZTV.
Sandra knows the challenges every journalist faces today in each newsroom. Making yourself valuable to your employer is crucial. Her philosophy: combine simple, clean and conversational writing with passion and curiosity in order to achieve a successful career in journalism.
Cathy Younkin: "In a land this big, don't dream small." That's the motto Cathy lives by and believes the saying applies to each of our lives in one way or another.
Her television career started nearly 20 years ago in Cleveland as an assignment desk assistant. Within just a few short months, she morphed her way into the world of producing; coming back into the station in the overnight hours to train with the morning producer on her own to learn the craft. A producer was born and within six months, she was hired as a full time line producer for the ABC affiliate.
Three years later, she was recruited by the CBS duopoly in the market. Cathy produced the 6:00 pm and then the 11:00 pm newscasts before being promoted to Executive Producer. To keep life exciting and to gain every bit of knowledge the newsroom had to offer, she also had a hand in special projects and produced for the investigative unit before sports came calling. For several seasons, she traveled with the sports department, producing two live one hour weekly specials for the Browns, Indians and Cleveland Cavaliers.
That wasn't enough. Cathy wanted another challenge. That's when she earned her stripes as a News Director at the NBC/CW duopoly in Syracuse, NY. She launched nearly ten hours of additional news on the CW station as well as weekend morning news on the NBC station. She helped take a struggling number three station to a virtual tie with the leading station in the market before leaving.
Cathy then took on an even bigger project in Michigan where she oversaw a couple more duopolies simultaneously. As News Director, she led two teams for the CBS and CW affiliates in Grand Rapids as well as the ABC and CW stations in Lansing. Cathy says this was an awesome experience and "quite the juggling act." Between the two markets, she launched more than 20 additional weekly hours of new newscasts.
Deciding it was time to thaw out a bit, Cathy moved to West Palm Beach, FL where as Executive News Director, she led the news division for the CBS/FOX duopoly for two years, followed by two and half more years as News Director for WPEC.
Cathy has hired, mentored and grown dozens of Anchors, Reporters, MMJ's, Meteorologists and Sports journalists throughout her career. Cathy's happiest when they achieve their goals by not dreaming small.
Her passion lies with hard news, breaking news and severe weather coverage. She believes that solid news execution is like baking a cake. You need to have all the right ingredients to make it a success. One of the most important ingredients of that recipe is eggs... er, people. Those that are engaging, creative, willing to take risks, confident and come with a buffet of skills- whether it's reporting, anchoring, producing, shooting or editing as well as a firm grasp of how to incorporate social media into the daily routine.
Cathy has a BA in Communications and a Master's Degree in Broadcast Journalism and Media Research. She believes hard work pays off. She will be the first to help others push the envelope and grow, followed by a hug and a high five. Cathy believes that you need to do what it takes and no less, to be the best.
Martha Pepper is the Office Manager for The NWT Group. Besides making Linda, Jan, Nancy, David, Carolyn, Sandra, and Cathy fill out paperwork (an almost impossible task), she is instrumental in helping our folk's various needs.
Martha loves the field of communications and is a valued member of the NWT family. She decided on a degree in public relations because it satisfies her interests in marketing, journalism, and relationships.
She got her BA in PR from Brigham Young University. After finishing classes, she worked at Community Action Services in Provo, Utah as part of their communications team.
Martha was born and raised in Westland, Mich. but lived in McAllen, Texas for a year and half as a missionary for her church. She is glad to be back in Texas but especially to be part of The NWT Group.
She loves to write, organize, and see people have success and gratification from their job. If you have any questions, or need help with anything from managing a move to filling out a form and all things in-between – just give Martha a call!
The other folks you'll meet:
Rich Everitt began his broadcasting career when, at age 10, he read a local newspaper over a "crystal radio" he made from a coil of wire and a 10-cent diode from Radio Shack. Since then, he has won numerous major market awards for investigative reporting, public service reporting, and producing. As a TV reporter, Rich has exposed corruption in local governments, covered civil unrest in the South (he was the first Television News Reporter to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan and returned with the video), and has interviewed most of the major newsmakers of the past 20 years.
Rich is the President and CEO of the immensely popular TALENTapes, INC., the premier resume tape/career consulting business for those in the Television News Industry.
He is also the author of the popular non-fiction book, Falling Stars: Air Crashes that Filled Rock & Roll Heaven, published by Harbor House Books.
Rich holds a Master of Arts from Emerson College. He further honed his film and television writing at Harvard. He also holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and speech from LaGrange College.
Rich lives in Augusta, Georgia, with his wife, Susan, and daughter, Ellen.
Ed Sardella is the author of Write Like You Talk…A Broadcast Newswriting Handbook. His book came from his many years spent covering news.
Ed served for thirty years as a primary news anchor and senior editor at KUSA-TV in Denver, Colorado.
Ed is considered by many to be one of the primary anchors around the country. He has helped hundreds of journalists improve their skills…both in the newsroom and in the classroom.
Ed also taught broadcast news reporting and writing on the college level for many years at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
His book…Write Like You Talk…continues to serve as a valuable resource to journalists around the country.
Barbara is a former award-winning anchor and reporter at numerous stations around the country. She took that experience and coupled her journalistic talents with her other skills…knowing what will work on-camera so that you look your best. Barbara is now an appearance coach…consulting on-air talent around the country.
Barbara also serves as the makeup and appearance consultant for The NWT Group. Her sharp eye and vast experience have helped numerous journalists look camera ready.