One TV News Executive’s Second Act

By Alex Weprin 

Times are tough for many in TV news-land. ABC and CBS News have gone through painful layoffs, and even the cable networks have felt the sting of a depressed advertising market. But take note kids, even when life gives you lemons, you can still find a way to make lemonade.

Take the example of Lisa Hsia, Bravo’s senior VP of digital media. At today’s mediabistro Circus, Hsia talked about how what put her on a new media path.

Hsia started her television career as a producer at ABC News’ “Primetime Live” where she produced pieces for Diane Sawyer. When her officemate Neil Shapiro left to join “Dateline NBC,” Hsia followed him, and when he was named president of NBC News in 2001, he named her VP of news, overseeing “Today,” “Dateline” and all long-form coverage.


In September, 2005, Shapiro left NBC News when the network declined to renew his contract, and Hsia found herself in an unusual spot.

“I only talk about it in a very public way because it was completely shocking to me, NBC News was #1, political things happen and when the boss goes often the lieutenants go,” Hsia said.

So what happened?

In 2005, Jeff Zucker, then president of the NBC Universal Television Group, recommended Hsia to [Lauren] Zalaznick. “[Zucker] said, ‘Have a meeting with a really smart person and tell me what you think,'” Zalaznick says. “I saw an incredibly passionate, curious mind, which struck me before anything else about Lisa.”

Zalaznick says Bravo did not have plans to start a documentary division, but she needed a leader in a new arena. “I told her, ‘Here’s a wild idea; I need help innovating around this space.’ It wasn’t called digital, it wasn’t called new media, it wasn’t called anything,” Zalaznick says. “But here are the kinds of things we want to try to do.'”

Lo and behold, the meeting with Bravo chief Lauren Zalaznick went very well and Hsia became senior VP of new media for Bravo.