Discovery Networks International veteran Rick Rodriguez has been named executive vice president and general manager of Discovery's Travel Channel.
Rodriguez, who joined Discovery in 1994, will oversee the network's programming, production and operations under Discovery Networks U.S. President Billy Campbell. He replaces former General Manager Steve Cheskin, who left in early May.
Most recently, Rodriguez was executive vice president of content for Discovery Channels International, charged with programming, production and on-air promotion for the company's international outlets, in part acting as a liaison between the international outlets and U.S. operations. "Part of me has been anxious to take on an operational role," he says.
He has helmed networks before. He served as acting general manager for Discovery Networks Europe, Middle East and Africa and also ran Discovery Networks Latin America.
In Travel, he inherits a challenged Discovery service. Ratings hover around a 0.3 or 0.4, and, unlike its Discovery siblings TLC and Animal Planet, Travel hasn't found a breakout show or signature personality.
Says Rodriguez, "I'd like to make the channel more relevant and immediate, more here and now."
Initially, he says, he will work to strengthen the net's on-air promotion and scheduling. In time, he wants to infuse Travel with more compelling programming. "We have to first focus on storytelling. The destination is secondary."