I usually get up around 6 o'clock but that varies depending on my son. I have a 17-month-old, so sometimes he wakes me up before that. Generally my morning means getting myself and my son ready for the day. My husband's day starts very early, so by the time I get up he's gone. I leave the house at 8:15 or 8:30 and drop my son off at daycare. I live and work in Los Angeles. Still, it's about a 25-minute commute.
When I walk into the office, I say good morning to my assistants and to the colleagues who work in my general area. Then I check my e-mails. Most of my e-mail has to do with the Tavis Smiley Show, a show that I launched for PBS. It airs five nights a week, so on any given day there is something going on. Other e-mail may be regarding any of the other shows that I'm doing and info coming from the legal and finance offices.
As executive director, it is my job to look for, develop and produce television shows for the PBS schedule. In addition to that, once the shows are produced, I have to oversee them on a daily basis, especially if they are ongoing. I focus on shows for the national PBS market.
I am also charged with looking at our shows from a multi-platform perspective, or in other words, how they can be used in mediums beyond television. I answer questions like, should we use podcasting? Does it make sense to break content up and make it available on iPods? What is our distribution strategy as content goes to video and DVD? For instance, now I am working on putting a "Best of Tavis Smiley" program together for distribution.
On Mondays, the Tavis Smiley Show shoots. I attend a morning production meeting with the producer, director, and managers who get together to anticipate any needs that they may have. Then I take care of anything that needs to be handled right away. Maybe a guest canceled and they have a hole in the schedule: we'll either find a plug or try to work around it.
I have a presence on the set but I also need access to what is going on in my office so I'm often going back and forth from my office to the set. We're on the same lot (the sound stage where the show is shot and the administrative office building). My lunch on tape days is at the studio; on non-tape days, I eat with producers and talk about potential new products.
When I come back to my office, I deal with other projects like "How Art Made the World," a venture with BBC coming out in June. I have a lot of interface with PBS directly so as to make sure we get the best scheduling. I don't want Tuesday night at midnight when everyone is asleep.
I'm also working on a development project meant to raise awareness concerning middle and high school students' lack of knowledge about American history and civics. I have to come up with specifics about how to put it into action. I want to go beyond just doing a television show. These kids are getting their media in different ways. I want a comic book component.
On Thursdays I have a weekly meeting with promotion and legal to talk about Tavis. I also have a more expansive programming meeting.
I usually leave the office around 6 p.m. I pick up my son, go home, and feed him. I go to the gym on certain days. Others I don't. "
As told to Sarah Filus
* Karen Robinson Hunte
KCET Program Development
Wrote, produced, and directed "Living Positive," a documentary that explores how women of color are affected by AIDS
Family Pet: A 95-pound Rhodesian ridgeback dog, Grace
Movies, TV: "I started my career in the feature film world. Working at the big studio wasn't as creative as I would have liked it to be. Also the time required for an idea to go to screen was really long and I found that TV was faster."
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