In 1993, Michelle Rice came to a fork in the road, professionally speaking. She was working for Washington-based BET as a manager in special-market affiliate sales. She always wanted to be an anchor, but when she worked briefly as a reporter at another TV station, she remembered the prized advice of a co-worker/mentor.
"He said, 'You have to love this business so much that you would be happy schlepping your mike around chasing ambulances forever." He told her, "Only one in a million makes it to the anchor desk." She loved TV, but she didn't love those odds.
Rice, now executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing for TV One, chose the road best taken, and it has led ultimately to TV One, where she pitches affiliates on the nation's only network targeted at 25-to-54-year-old African-American adults. It's not a hard sell. "We program shows that are respectful of African-Americans' culture and reflect them in a positive way," says the married mother of two. "We target our audience with everything from home and gardening, news and information, to entertainment and comedy."
Rice joined TV One in January 2004, just as it was getting off the ground. Today, TV One is distributed in 43 million homes on AT&T Cable, Charter, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV, Time Warner and Verizon FiOS TV.
Previously, the 40-year-old Rice had spent three years handling affiliate sales for pay-per-view and video-on-demand service iNDemand in New York. From 1996 to 2001, she sold NBC's cable network to special markets, such as DirecTV and EchoStar.
Rice graduated from Philadelphia's Temple University in 1991 with a B.A. in journalism, and then went on to get her master's in communication management from UCLA. Through a Walter Kaitz Foundation fellowship, she got to BET. And the anchor desk's loss has been management's gain. — Paige Albiniak