Barry Wallach, executive vice president of NBC Enterprises, doesn't mind that he never got to take his post-college trip backpacking around Europe. From his perspective, if he had gone he wouldn't be where he is today.
Today, Wallach is crisscrossing the country, furiously selling The Jane Pauley Show
for NBC Enterprises. While the travel is grueling, dropping Wallach off in several cities a week ever since NBC announced the show in June, it's one of the things Wallach has always loved about syndication.
"I didn't get to do my backpacking through Europe but at least I've been everywhere in the U.S.," he says.
On one day last month, Wallach woke at 4 a.m. at his home in Connecticut, flew to San Francisco to present Jane Pauley
to a TV station group head and then returned to New York by 1:30 a.m. the following morning. And with no time to catch up at the office, he had a quick trip to Washington D.C. scheduled for the next day.
"When you get opportunities like this and shows like Jane Pauley, well, this is a big one. It's in your blood and you live for it," he says, adding with pride that over the years and millions of miles logged, he's "watched about four movies" on airplanes. He prefers to sit with his laptop open, coming up with strategies to sell his shows.
Over the 20 years Wallach has been in the syndication business, he has sold some 100 TV shows. He got his start in syndication in college at Syracuse University, where he interned at Katz Media Group and took a trip to Hollywood to meet prominent Syracuse alumni, including Fred Silverman at CBS and Mark Tinker, the producer of shows such as The White Shadow, LA Law, St. Elsewhere
and NYPD Blue.
That's when he realized TV was an exciting industry in which to work. "The passion to pursue those feelings has remained with me for 20 years," he says.
His internship at Katz helped him get a job as a researcher at Blair Television right out of college, which he opted to take instead of travel. "I found out later that jobs are a dime a dozen," he says. But he's still glad he took the path he did: "By the time my friends got back from Europe, I was already on my second job."
His second job took him back to Katz. He was playing on the company's softball team in Central Park when he met Gary Gannaway, founder of Genesis Entertainment. Wallach's enthusiasm soon won Gannaway over, and Wallach was rewarded with a job as account executive for Gannaway's new syndication company.
Wallach remained with Genesis for ten years, even after New World Entertainment bought the company in 1994. It soon became clear New World wasn't planning to stay in the business long-term—it ultimately sold out to Fox—and Wallach jumped to a new syndication company, Eyemark Entertainment, that Ed Wilson was starting for CBS in Los Angeles.
But the Connecticut-born Wallach never was meant for the West Coast. About the time he moved to Los Angeles, he met his future wife, Carolyn. She was and still is an executive producer for the New York-based Martha Stewart Living, which was distributed by Eyemark and based in New York. Four years later, they were married and he returned to the East Coast.
After returning, he started working for new media company, WorldNow Network, also started by Gannaway. After Wilson went to NBC to start up NBC Enterprises, Wallach returned to syndication as Wilson's head of sales.
"Really, outside of my internships, I've really only worked for those two guys—Ed twice and Gary twice," Wallach says. "We all joke about it."