News Articles

Debbie Honkus

Chairman, NEP Broadcasting 4/16/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

As the long-time head of NEP Broadcasting, the country’s
largest mobile production firm, Debra Honkus
has led her engineering and production teams to play
a key role in helping clients produce some of the
world’s most popular sporting events on television in
recent decades.

Over the years, those efforts have earned Honkus
four Emmys. Most recently she garnered a 2011 Sports
Emmy, the George Wensel Technical Achievement
Award, for NEP’s 3D solution for CBS’ 3D coverage of
U.S. Open tennis.

But for Honkus, technology leadership isn’t so much
about the technology as finding the right solutions for
her client’s needs. “I’m not an engineer,” she stresses.
“But I know enough to push our engineers to work with
the vendors to understand what our clients wanted
and then to provide them with a customized solution
for what they need. I think that has really defined us
as a technology leader.”

Her operations experience in the sports business began
with Total Communications Systems, where she
was the general manager from 1979 to 1987, a post she
retained after TCS merged with NEP. Since then, under
a variety of titles, she has overseen the company’s dayto-
day operations as it has grown into a mobile production
powerhouse. In addition to CBS, NEP works
with such clients as NBC—which will use trucks
from the NEP Visions unit in London at the Summer
Olympics—as well as ESPN, Fox, Turner and others.

As part of its focus on matching technologies to its
customers’ needs, NEP began building many of its own
trucks in the 1990s. “Some of the pre-made trucks
we bought required a lot of rewiring and weren’t as
efficient in meeting our customers’ needs,” she notes.
“So we realized early on that it would be better for ourselves
and our customers to build customized trucks.”

More recently NEP, which is majority-owned by
private-equity firm American Securities, has set up its
own fiber department, which has reduced repair and
set-up times. It has also developed its “nsite” automatic
system for monitoring and supporting broadcast facilities
via the Web, which has improved the tech support
it provides to teams in the field.

Meanwhile, NEP has significantly expanded its entertainment
production, working with such shows as
Conan, The Voice and American Idol.

In January NEP hired Kevin Rabbitt as its new CEO,
and Honkus became chairman of the board. “Having
Kevin on board as the new CEO has been great,” Honkus
says. “It is allowing me to focus more on the fun things
like working with the engineers and clients, which is
something I’ve wanted to have more time for.”