Fifth Estater

Clark Finds Blue Sky at Weather Channel

Joining network when Sandy hit, science geek has hit ground running as president 4/15/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern

David Clark

Title:

President, Weather Channel Network

Education:

B.A. in political science and international relations, Tulane University, 1992

Employment Highlights:

Marketing manager, IBM, 1994

Director, marketing, Simon & Schuster, 1995-97

Founder and chief operating officer, Shanah.com, 1998-2001

VP, global ad sales and marketing partnerships, MTV, 2000-06

General manager, North America, Joost, 2006-09

Executive VP, sales and partnership development, Madison Square Garden Co., 2009-10

Executive VP, general manager, Fuse 2010-12

Current position since November 2012

Personal:

Born Dec. 31, 1969; married to Kyle; sons Nicholas, 9 and Reid, 5

David Clark is thunderstruck by the rock-star treatment he
gets when he tells people where he works. The new president of
the Weather Channel expected that kind of excitement when he
worked at MTV. “Coming from the music world, I didn’t quite expect the same level of passion, but it’s there,”
Clark says. “In certain cases, it might be more.”

Clark is fortunate. It seems he’s always had
jobs that make him feel like the luckiest kid in
the world.

Growing up in the tiny town of Roxbury,
Conn., Clark wanted to be an astronaut. “Once
I realized there was math involved, I started
looking at other things,” he says. When it was
time for college, he had two criteria: It had to
be in a big city and it had to be somewhere
warm. He went to Tulane University in New
Orleans and studied international relations.
After earning his degree, he hit the road, backpacking
abroad and teaching English in Japan.

“Back then, you couldn’t just text your parents
or email home. You were really off the
grid,” he says. But the experience was important.
“New Orleans is eye-opening, but Japan
was really eye-opening,” he says.

Clark started his career at IBM, then landed
a job at Simon & Schuster, which had an
educational sitcom called Family Album. His
assignment was to fly around the world in
coach, licensing the show to broadcasters. “I
was like, I cannot believe I got this job. It was
like handed down from the heavens,” he says.
Clark started an Internet company but then
got back into the media business with MTV,
landing a job doing global integrated marketing
deals.

After meeting the founders of Skype, he
returned to the Internet business, launching
Joost, which aimed to bring premium video to
the Web. At that time Apple had just acquired
episodes of Desperate Housewives for iTunes.
For a short time, Joost was hot, earning investments
from CBS and Viacom. But the premium
video business turned stormy. “You don’t really
understand the strength of television until you
try to disrupt it,” Clark says. Ultimately, Joost
could not compete with Hulu in what turned
out to be a winner-take-all game.

Clark then hooked up with Madison Square
Garden Co. “If you’re going to live in New
York City, it’s about the most fun place you
can work,” he says. He was appointed general
manager of MSG’s Fuse, which struggled as a
music channel overwhelmed by MTV.

“Fuse was a network that needed a reason to
be,” Clark recalls. “We rethought it, and today
it’s positioned as a music-news network, almost
an ESPN for music. And as television networks
go, it’s scrappy,” he says.

Brad Schwartz, senior VP of programming and
operations at Fuse, worked with Clark at MTV.
Schwartz was running networks in Canada when
he got a call from Clark about working at Fuse.
“I loved working for Dave and I sold my house,
packed up all my belongings and moved back to
New York,” Schwartz says. He adds that Clark’s
strengths include both devising a sound strategy
and knowing when and how to execute it. “He’s
enthusiastic,” Schwartz says. “Anything he’s doing
is the greatest thing in the world. It’s infectious.
He makes everyone else believe in it, too.”

When Clark got the call late last year about
an opportunity at the Weather Channel, it was
hard to resist.

“This has got to be the most fascinating opportunity
in media right now,” he says. “You’ve
got a TV network with a huge digital presence,
you’ve got the TV network with this localized
infrastructure—the only one that I know of—
and you’re covering subject matter that will
never go out of fashion and is becoming more
and more interesting to people and important to
people as the climate changes.”

The Weather Company needed someone to
run its TV channel. CEO David Kenny says a
search turned up several candidates, but Clark
emerged as the best fit.

“[Clark] told me about his own engagement
with our product. He’s a very active guy and
spends a lot of time outdoors, and that correlates
well,” Kenny says. Clark’s background at music
channels also created advantages that were not
originally obvious. As with music channels,
“some [viewers] come to us for 10 minutes a
day and some come for an hour. Being able to
understand how to program for different lengths
of engagement with us was key,” Kenny adds.

When Clark started at the channel last November,
he was greeted by Superstorm Sandy
and jumped into the network’s coverage. The
whirlwind has barely died down since. He spent
much of a family vacation in Jamaica earlier this
month working on the network’s April 29 upfront
presentation to ad buyers in New York.

A self-proclaimed science geek, Clark says job
one at Weather Channel is focusing on being
“insanely great at the weather, and to be sure
we’re communicating it impactfully.”

Kenny says he has been impressed by the way
producers, on-air talent, operations and technical
people have responded to Clark. “They find
him bringing the best out of them,” Kenny says.
“What’s been nice to see is how many people,
including some real veterans, have really blossomed
with new leadership.” After office hours,
“all sorts of people have wanted to have him
over and take him out to dinner. The guy’s definitely been working long hours, because every
morning I hear about someone new that he had
dinner with the night before.”

All the activity has left Clark with little free
time. He spends what time he has with his
family, who will be moving from New York to
Atlanta over the summer. A shutterbug, Clark
has been learning nighttime and underwater
photography and would love to figure out how
to shoot lightning storms. And he still enjoys
travel. “I look forward to a day when my boys
are a little older and I can take them around the
world and show them what I saw,” he says.

E-mail comments to
jlafayette@nbmedia.com and follow him
on Twitter: @jlafayette

David Clark

Title:

President, Weather Channel Network

Education:

B.A. in political science and international relations, Tulane University, 1992

Employment Highlights:

Marketing manager, IBM, 1994

Director, marketing, Simon & Schuster, 1995-97

Founder and chief operating officer, Shanah.com, 1998-2001

VP, global ad sales and marketing partnerships, MTV, 2000-06

General manager, North America, Joost, 2006-09

Executive VP, sales and partnership development, Madison Square Garden Co., 2009-10

Executive VP, general manager, Fuse 2010-12

Current position since November 2012

Personal:

Born Dec. 31, 1969; married to Kyle; sons Nicholas, 9 and Reid, 5

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