Secrets of Success as a Top Performer

Dr. Relly Nadler: 
Today we have Kristi Kline. She is the Executive Producer of ABC-TV’s The Tucson Morning Blend. It’s a live, lifestyle talk show on the ABC affiliate in Arizona. It’s a syndicated TV show through Journal Broadcasting. Kristi began her career as an NBC Network Page at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I’m very excited to have Kristi on the show today to talk about how TV really works, what it’s like to be an executive producer, why she chose this field, and how others who want to be top performers in this industry can learn from Kristi, just the way I like to learn from Kristi.

Dr. Relly Nadler: We’ll be talking to Kristi about her experiences in the media world regarding emotional intelligence.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: One of the things I want to get to, obviously, in the program today is a little bit about how we learn from top performers. That’s really having them coach us and being very effective executive leaders.

Let’s welcome Kristi to the show!

Kristi Kline: Hello.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Hey, glad you can be with us. I know you have just broken down your set over there at ABC in Tucson, and we are so pleased that you have made some time to be with us today.

Kristi Kline: I’m so happy to, and thank you for having me.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I’d just like to add a little more of our introduction for you. Kristi Kline is the executive producer of the Tucson Morning Blend. She has worked in media for more than 20 years.

After being a Network Page for NBC, she then went on to CNN in Washington, D.C. During the George H. Bush era, she field produced for the White House Beat at CNN, as well as edited for the network. Christi moved into producing with the launch of CNBC and was a segment producer for the entertainment business program, The Media Beat, for two years.

Kristi decided to move west in 1999 and found herself in the desert. She’s been working in television and radio, both behind the camera and microphone as well as selling advertising in Tucson.

She launched the Tucson Morning Blend for Journal Broadcasting Group last year and the show is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary. Congratulations Kristi!

Kristi Kline: Thank you. It’s hard to believe that we are coming up on one year. It seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago that we were pulling the whole set together.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Kristi, one of the things that we would love to pick your brain about—there’s a lot of things—we like to start off with just getting a little bit more background about you. How did you get into the media business and who have been some of your key influencers that have moved you in this direction?

Kristi Kline: I was interested in television production when I was in college. I went to the University of Maryland and graduated from there with a radio, television and film degree. I just enjoy the entertaining aspects of television. I have always been a huge arts supporter and appreciated the arts. I grew up outside of New York City in a suburb in New Jersey.

We would go into the city often and see shows and performers and plays, so there was something about television that drew me to the entertaining aspect of it.

At University of Maryland they didn’t offer a journalism degree but they did offer this radio, television, and film, so I got into it there and I was lucky enough when I got out of college to apply for the NBC Page program and was accepted into that and it was just a great start to a fun career.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: A fun career it is, but it’s also a tough career. Personal growth and development is something that we focus on quite a bit in our industry.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Kristi, what’s your real sense of purpose as an executive producer. Could you speak to that for our audience?

Kristi Kline: Well I probably have a dual purpose. I have a purpose with the station and the broadcast group and that is to put on an entertaining and visual program that keeps the viewers watching and keeps people buying products.

Then my own personal purpose it to help people grow and bring awareness to a lot of projects that go on in our Tucson community that maybe don’t get a lot of TV air time or that can’t afford necessarily to buy a big commercial schedule. There are so many worthy organizations in our community that don’t get a lot of air time.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: It sounds like there was this draw, the sense of purpose you had. As you were talking about in the introduction, that there is some spirit of humanity that this opportunity that you have every day really fills for you. That must make you feel really terrific.

Kristi Kline: It does, Cathy. I really enjoy helping people. I always have enjoyed giving back as a lot of people have given to me. Television is an interesting business. There’s a lot of allure to it because so many people have one of these boxes in their homes and you are invited into their living rooms every day. Then, it’s something that I do as a job so I go to work every day to come into someone’s home. I just want to try to make sure that I always help out the people at home who are watching and are thinking, oh gosh, that’s affected me or that somehow is something that I have wanted to get involved in. I hope I do help people.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I know the feedback that we get from the show that you are doing that I have been honored to be a part of, definitely touches people and they really do get it.

Kristi Kline: Aww, well, thanks, Cathy. We love having you on the program because you add an element to the show that is wonderful for our viewers. We are on right after The View here in Tucson, as you know, and so by that point people have watched Good Morning America, they’ve watched their local news morning show, and then Regis and Kelly, and the View, so when we come on we try to give them something that is a little bit different than those other shows.

Dr. Relly Nadler: For our audience and for me also, Kristi, if you were to describe the show, are there certain focus aspects?

Kristi Kline: Well, we keep in mind, of course, who is watching. We have a lot of stay-at-home moms, a lot of stay-at-home dads and seniors who are watching at 11:00 and it really, truly, is a blend, hence the name, of different things that those people would be interested in. We have chefs that come on, we have entertainers, we have Cathy’s segment each month that she comes on and talks about how to be a happy working woman. We have a segment that we do each week with the local Humane Society. We do a segment with a crafter. We try to just incorporate a lot of things that are important to the local market and then as well what is important to the people watching.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Kristi, it appears to me, and obviously Relly, you chime in here, there are things that you have done in your life on your journey that have given you this vantage point that allows you to see not only what makes you successful and the show successful, but a successful event for the audience.

Let me ask you personally, what are the two are three key lessons on your journey thus far, that have really defined your success?

Kristi Kline: Well, one key lesson is just to work hard. You have to, of course, enjoy what you do in order to put in the extra hours and want to get ahead. I’m kind of a naturally driven person, but I really enjoy my job. I really enjoy meeting people. I enjoy helping people grow. Working 10-11 hours doesn’t really bother me. Working hard is certainly something that is included in my journey for success.

Dr. Relly Nadler: A lot of things, Kristi, that I am hearing that I haven’t heard you mention, but it’s loud and clear, is the empathy that you have for the audience. When Cathy and I are in organizations and we talk about leadership, empathy is really an important skill to read what is going on for others, and what do they need. I’m hearing that in being sensitive to the audience. Have there been ways that have helped you enhance that sense of empathy? I’m sure you have the ratings and all of that, but I can hear it really come from a service orientation.

Kristi Kline: Well, you know television, like I said before, has changed so much over the years. It’s just changed leaps and bounds since when I got into it. One of my first jobs was working for CNN in Washington, D.C., my first full paying job anyway.

CNN at the time had just begun to take off. Before that, they were relatively unknown. It was Ted Turner’s whacky idea of 24 hours news. Right before I had gotten there the shooting of President Regan had happened, the assassination attempt. It really put them on the map because they were the only television station that was live covering the president walking from one place to another at that time.

The next event that really put them on the map was when the shuttle went down that had the school teacher in it. I guess there was something about working for a 24 hours news organization that just got me in this mode of really understanding people and events and how the community is really affected by what goes on in life every day.

You can listen to the complete interview above.


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