JHRTS NY Recap: A Conversation with Bob Tuschman and Michael Smith
By Meghan Mackenzie, JHRTS-NYC Board Member
On Wednesday, April 21st, JHRTS New York hosted a successful panel featuring Bob Tuschman, General Manager/senior vice president of The Food Network and Michael Smith, General Manager of Cooking Channel, and moderated by the always effervescent and entertaining Sunny Anderson, star of Food Network’s Cooking For Real.
Sunny kept the conversation flowing as she guided Michael and Bob through a variety of topics, from their personal career history, their advice for young people in the business, and the way in which they’ve helped to build the business of food television. Bob discussed his journey in depth, stressing the importance of recognizing your passion and being willing to take risks in order to follow it. “Leap and the net will appear,” he advised. Michael echoed a similar sentiment and shared how, with persistence and tireless creative effort (including writing an Ad Sales Musical!), he worked his way from a job in ad sales to Executive Director of On-Air Promotion for Disney Channel, and now, of course, to running Cooking Channel. The message was clear: find your passion and you will achieve success.
JHRTS members were given insight into the way the Food Network grew from a small struggling cable network into the huge brand that it is today. Bob explained that at the company's inception, Food Network viewers were specific; they were either devout followers or, for lack of a better term, total haters. As Food Network began to introduce relatable, dynamic talent and formatted shows, the network gained popularity a broader, more diverse viewership. When discussing current programming for the two networks, Michael explained that they focus on the brands they have created. Food Network and Cooking Channel always have their audiences in mind when developing programs, but continue to keep a pulse on what else draws viewers and what they can learn from other networks.
The most valuable tidbit the JHRTS members took away from the evening? Learning that Michael Smith’s current favorite show is Real World: Las Vegas.