Fifth Estater

'Rapid' Ascent For Schurz Broadcast Chief

Powerful local TV exec remains a small-town news director at heart 12/19/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

Marci Burdick

Title:

Senior VP of broadcasting, Schurz Communications

Education:

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, 1975-1977

Employment Highlights:

KEVN Rapid City, weathercaster, coanchor, anchor, news director, 1976- 1981; KOTA Rapid City, anchor, news director, 1981- 1988; KYTV Springfield, Mo., 1988-2000; WAGT Augusta, Ga., president and general manager, 2000- 2001; current position since 2002

Personal:

b. Aug. 10, 1957; married to John; children Leah, Stephen, Jason, Kristen; grandchildren Meghan, Katelyn, Cassandra, Simone, Tabitha

Marci Burdick’s fights for local broadcasters’ rights has
frequently found her in the towers of power in Washington
and New York—as far a cry as one can imagine
from a youth spent in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Growing up in Rapid City, somewhere
between Mount Rushmore, the Badlands
and the Crazy Horse Memorial, the
Schurz Communications senior VP describes
an idyllic childhood spent amidst
mountains, forests and a veritable menagerie
of wildlife. “We used to say you could
put more people in Yankee Stadium than
you could put in the city,” Burdick says.
“I think it’s still true.”

While her surroundings have changed,
other things have remained constant,
such as Burdick’s passion for local broadcasting.
She got her start at the school
radio station at 14, shifted to television at
18 and was an anchor and news director
at KEVN in Rapid City by 21. While some
might picture the occasional distemperate
bison as “news” in DMA No. 173,
Burdick says the stories were extraordinarily
impactful, from devastating forest fires and fatal " oods to ground-breaking
Native American movements to cracks in
Mount Rushmore. “We’d walk right up
the side of Mount Rushmore with a camera
strapped to our back,” she says. “We
were one-man bands before it was cool.”

Burdick became news director at KYTV
Spring! eld (Mo.) in 1988, starting a decadeslong
tenure at Schurz. Her first general
manager job was at WAGT in Augusta,
Ga., in 2000, and she was boosted to corporate
in 2003, overseeing eight TV and
13 radio stations and two cable systems.

The move to corporate has launched
Burdick into some pivotal broadcasting
leadership positions. She has been chairperson
of the RTNDA (now RTDNA) board
and of NBC’s in" uential affiliates board in
2006-2007. (“Outstanding job,” recalls
Jean Dietze, NBC’s current affiliates chief.)

Burdick joined the NBC affiliates board
when Jack Sander, former vice chair at Belo,
headed the group. “I got to know Marci a
bit when we worked on some gnarly issues,
and found her to be a good, solid thinker
who was very effective in Washington and
New York,” says Sander. “I learned as much
from Marci as she did from me.”

Burdick added another major post last
June, when she was elected chair of the
NAB’s television board—the first woman
to hold that position since the NAB formed
in 1923. “Marci is just a great person to
be around, with a positive attitude and a
results-driven, can-do spirit,” says NAB
president/CEO Gordon Smith. “You would
have a hard time finding anyone in broadcasting
better liked and more respected.”

Schurz CEO Todd Schurz says Burdick’s
presence on boards benefits the company
greatly. “It helps us know what opportunities
are out there, and gives us an earlier
warning signal when problems are out
there,” he says. “She’s part of a discussion
that traditionally we’ve not been part of.”

Burdick oversees a sterling batch of stations
that include WSBT South Bend (Ind.),
WDBJ Roanoke (Va.) and KWCH Wichita
(Kan.). She describes the stations as leaders
in news and community service, technology
pioneers and strong business partners. “Ask
the Chamber of Commerce, the biggest
auto dealer, the teacher,” she says. “Give
them our call letters and see what they feed
back. I’m willing to bet more times than not
it’s the best news, and when the community
needs help, that is where they go.”

Burdick’s colleagues describe her as
razor-sharp, down-to-earth and wickedly
funny. Todd Schurz says Burdick is
a stellar sounding board for newsroom
denizens wrestling with a tricky story.
“Her colleagues trust her and come to
her with lots of questions, because they
respect her judgment,” Schurz says.

Burdick unwinds by knitting, reading
and spending time with her granddaughters—
as well as mentoring a third-grader
from a disadvantaged school. As much
as she enjoys her corporate role, Burdick
misses the buzz of those newsrooms she
got to know as a kid. “I still twitch and
pace on election night and when there’s
breaking news,” she says. “I still love and
admire what happens in newsrooms.”

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

Marci Burdick

Title:

Senior VP of broadcasting, Schurz Communications

Education:

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, 1975-1977

Employment Highlights:

KEVN Rapid City, weathercaster, coanchor, anchor, news director, 1976- 1981; KOTA Rapid City, anchor, news director, 1981- 1988; KYTV Springfield, Mo., 1988-2000; WAGT Augusta, Ga., president and general manager, 2000- 2001; current position since 2002

Personal:

b. Aug. 10, 1957; married to John; children Leah, Stephen, Jason, Kristen; grandchildren Meghan, Katelyn, Cassandra, Simone, Tabitha

 

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