No Handyman Himself, but He Heads HGTV
News experience prepared Jablin for niche programming
By Allison Romano -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/21/2003 7:00:00 PM
Looking to pass the time one slow New Year's Day in the mid 1980s, Burton Jablin, then a young news producer for CBS's WBBM-TV Chicago, and a co-worker decided to stage their own Tournament of Roses parade in the newsroom. They fashioned floats out of cardboard boxes and recruited the anchor to narrate over the intercom. Today, as president of HGTV, Jablin presides over the coverage of the real Tournament of Roses parade on New Year's Day.
"Little did I know the Rose Parade would be back in my life again," says Jablin. "It is typically the highest-rated program we do all year."
In 1994, after years in local news, Jablin took the plunge into cable, joining startup lifestyle cable net Home & Garden Television. He had been looking to leave news and segue into entertainment. He was intrigued by HGTV's plans to create "info-entertainment," a hybrid of news and entertainment. So Jablin, who had spent his life in big cities like Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles, moved to Knoxville, Tenn., to become HGTV's first executive producer of programming and its sixth employee. Since then, he has climbed to programming chief and general manager and now runs the Scripps Networks-owned channel.
Jablin isn't much of a remodeler or gardener himself. If he were to inspire an HGTV show, he quips, the program would advise viewers how to hire the right people to get the jobs done. He speaks from experience, having just completed a two-year renovation on his home. "I went through what I see represented on the network everyday, but I don't think watching prepared me for the reality."
What he can really relate to, though, is the strong appeal of HGTV's lifestyle programming. Under Jablin and his team, the network is thriving, with record prime time ratings this fall, a 0.9 household rating. More than 1 million viewers tune in to at least seven different shows.
Jablin credits his experience in local news for teaching him how to program for a niche cable audience. With both, he says, "you really get a sense of what your audience wants and apply it."
A Chicago-area native, Jablin started out as a researcher at WBBM-TV and climbed the ranks to executive producer. Later, he headed west to Los Angeles to executive-produce the 10 p.m. newscast for Fox's KTTV(TV). By 1992, he was burned out on the news business and took a year off to hopscotch the world, including visits to New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Nepal and Sweden.
Just before he departed for Sweden, his former boss from Chicago and Los Angeles, Frank Gardner, called to tell him about the new Scripps cable network HGTV. Jablin admits that he knew little about the cable industry, which was probably for the best. "If I had known how difficult it was to get a channel up and running, the rational side of me probably would have said this wasn't an opportunity you should take."
He recalls traveling to New Orleans in 1994 for HGTV's first National Cable Show, where HGTV was one of about 100 new networks. Today, two of those channels have become big successes, says Jablin: HGTV and The History Channel. "A 2% rate of success, that is not a very good gamble."
But he placed the right bet. Lifestyle programming has become one of TV's hottest reality genres, thanks to shows like TLC's Trading Spaces. For its part, HGTV introduced more entertainment and storytelling to its own shows about five years ago, while preserving its "three I's" directive to include information, inspiration and ideas in all its shows.
To keep growing, Jablin says, HGTV needs to keep finding fresh ways to program. "We need to be the innovator since it is our category. We can't ride out one style and hope for the best. That isn't our future."
Dear Mr. Jablin:
First of all, I am a tremendous follower of HGTV. Both my daughter and myself find it interesting and extremely useful and informative. My daughter, Jackie, is 15-years-old and has mental retardation.
There are a couple of important subject areas; however, that haven't seem to make it on your programming schedule: water intrusion and mold.
There is a serious water intrusion/mold problem plaguing the homeowners in our neighborhood.
My husband, daughter and I live in the fourth home (~4,400 square feet) to be remediated out of the 25 homes on our street.qknn Our home is 9 years old. There are two other homes beginning remediation within the next two weeks. Remediation started on our home on July 13, 2009 and we still have around another month before the remediation is completed. All of the stucco and stone needed to be taken down, all new construction windows and doors needed to be installed, and serious mold remediation was performed by Hardy Environmental. Prior to getting an invasive inspection, there were no obvious water leaks.
The cost is around $200,000 and insurance does not pay for this. We needed to take out a Home Equity Loan.
Mold was discovered in every external room in the home, including the basement and garage. The damage extended to far beyond the external envelope of the building. The ceramic tile in the sunroom and the carpeting in the dining room, living room, master bedroom, master sitting area, the study and several other bedrooms need to be replaced due to moisture intrusion and mold.
Some of the causes of the moisture intrusion include . . .
1. Windows and doors installed improperly in both the stucco and stone, showed signs of buckling due to thermal movements and have caused major moisture intrusion
2. Stucco does not meet the requirements of the 1990 BOCA Building Code, ASTM C1063 or ASTM C926
3. Stucco and stone application was installed below grade and weeps not installed in stone
4. No weep screed was present to facilitate drainage of any water that does penetrate the stucco cladding
5. Reverse shingling of the felt existed below all windows
6. Head flashings at the windows and doors do not extent past the jambs and in many places the stucco is installed tight above the flashing.
7. Many of the head flashings are caulked closed and will not allow the moisture to drain.
8. Accessories are installed improperly/wrong size as per the building code.
9. The stucco is installed/terminated improperly at differing materials.
10. The minimum/nominal thickness of the stucco does not meet the basic minimums of the building code (3/4" - 1990 BOCA Building Code).
11. Improper termination of the stucco application and improper joint is present at the intersection of the stucco application and the stone.
12. Absence of kick-out flashing at critical areas resulting in moistureintrusion behind the stucco.
I have been documenting this remediation and have around 16 hours of video and over 400 photographs to date. Because of this, I have learned a tremendous amount and would like to share this knowlege with others. I believe that better understanding of this problem would greatly benefit your viewership.
Since pictures tell a thousand words, I'd be happy to send you some, including a picture of our home before remediation. Please let me know.
I look forward to your comments, and I thank you for your time.
116 Hartefeld Avenue
Avondale, PA 19311
Kathy Barto - 8/17/2009 5:09:09 PM EDT
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