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Brian Frons Reveals Secrets of ABC Daytime to Students and Alumni

Brian FronsBrian Frons, president of
ABC-Daytime, at the Dean's
Executive Leadership Series

Dean’s Executive Leadership Series 
January 9, 2007

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The second Dean’s Executive Leadership Series event of the 2006-07 season featured Brian Frons, president of daytime for the Disney-ABC Television Group.  A highly engaging speaker, Mr. Frons discussed his experiences working in television, shared valuable business advice, and even revealed a little behind-the-scenes scoop on some of ABC’s popular programs including “The View,” “All My Children,” and “General Hospital.”

Mr. Frons stated that while daytime television may appear to be all about “dirt, divas and backstabbing,” it also presents many challenges that are universal to business across all industries.  The first point he made is one he has come face-to-face with recently at ABC:  “Change happens and it’s something you really have to deal with.”

Illustrating his point, he went on to discuss the network’s risky decision of replacing The View’s lead personalities Meredith Viera and Star Jones with the controversial Rosie O’Donnell.  When faced with such a quandary, he explained, “You have a choice—you can retreat, you can be afraid, you can be safe… we chose to be bold.  We said, ‘What if this is a chance to reinvent and reinvigorate what ‘The View’ is?’”

The risk paid off:  with O’Donnell in place, the show is now enjoying the highest ratings in its 10-year history.

Regarding additional aspects of business, Mr. Frons asserted that “a good brand is really about building and creating a real emotional connection” with consumers, something he believes the ABC team has excelled at.  “They trust Ebert and Roeper to recommend movies.  They trust Barbara Walters to interpret the news of the day.  And they know that Susan Lucci [longtime star of ABC soap “All My Children”], no matter what happens, will get married again.”

He added, “Once you define who you are and what you mean to consumers, you can weather change as long as you stay emotionally true to what the audience or the market really connected with in the first place.”

Following his speech, Mr. Frons took some time to answer questions posed by students and alumni in the audience.

The next speaker in the Dean’s Executive Leadership Series will be Dennis Tito, CEO of Wilshire Associates Incorporated, but best known as the first person to pay to travel in space.  Mr. Tito will speak at the Drescher Graduate Campus on March 13, 2007.