If he's not the hardest-working man in the broadcasting business, Tim Busch is awfully close. He was promoted to Nexstar's co-COO last year, with oversight of 17 stations across 10 markets. He was also named chairman of the CBS affiliates board in May, and serves on the TVB's Sales Advisory Committee as well.
Busch, 46, has emerged as a valued confidant to Nexstar Chairman/President/CEO Perry Sook, charged with everything from forecasting the group's revenue picture and overseeing the whopping political advertising that will drop on broadcasters next year, to writing the general managers' training manual.
While Busch has had an eventful 20 years in television, one suspects the next 20 hold even bigger and better things. Splitting time between Rochester, N.Y.; Irving, Texas; and the markets he oversees, Busch admits it can be difficult to turn off his engine. “It's never off until I hit the pillow,” he says.
Busch studied broadcasting management at Ohio University (he offers up a hearty “Go Bobcats!” unbidden), where he learned all aspects of the business. “We had to do it all: anchor, produce, direct, floor-manage, do camera, sell, splice tape and fix machines,” says Busch, who started a scholarship program at the university with his wife. “When I got into the business, you had a good sense of what a floor manager did, and what a director did, and what an anchor and reporter had to do to prepare for a show.”
Busch got his start in radio, at Taft Broadcasting in Buffalo in 1985. He moved up to management within a few years before being offered a low-level sales position in television. For advice, he sought out his uncle, Charlie Rath, who'd learned a bit about the TV racket as marketing director at Wendy's. (Among Uncle Charlie's claims to fame: the “Where's the Beef?” campaign.) “He told me, 'Tim, radio doesn't have as bright a future as TV,'” Busch recalls. “He said, 'Take a step back and go for it.'”
So Busch was an account executive once again, this time for Tak-owned WGRZ Buffalo. He moved up the ranks rapidly, holding the general sales manager title from 1994 to 2000, as WGRZ was acquired by Gannett and then Argyle Television. His first VP/general manager promotion came in 2000, when he headed Nexstar's WROC Rochester.
Aswift two years after taking over WROC, Busch was boosted to a position as Nexstar's senior VP and regional manager. Sook saw uncommon drive in his young executive.
“Tim's passion for the business is as strong as anyone's I've ever worked with,” Sook points out. “He's the one guy I know who, when I'm driving home from work, I know is still at his office working.”
Busch gives the CBS affiliates a similar degree of dedication. Items at the top of the agenda include pressing Washington leaders on the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA) and market modification, maximizing CBS' interactive properties for the affiliates and making sure the network-affiliate relationship stays viable.
Despite local TV's hard times of late, Busch remains bullish on its future. “Local television is still the mouthpiece of the community,” he says. “Stations have had their branding in place for 50, 55 years—you don't find many [outfits] other than Procter & Gamble and GM that have that kind of branding.”
When he's not working, Busch unwinds with his wife, Margaret, and their two teenage sons. That may involve rooting for the boys' hockey teams, playing golf with them or taking aim at sporting clays. He and Margaret recently visited Italy—Busch's first vacation of the year—and saw much of Venice and Rome when he wasn't attempting to oversee his stations remotely. He calls Margaret, who used to work in radio sales, “the next best thing this side of heaven” for putting up with his commitment to work.
“She's very giving when it comes to me being late for dinner, for the kids' events, walking in when everyone's clapping at the end of the concert,” Busch says. “She's provided me the opportunity to do what I need to do to build my career, and I'm very grateful for that.”
Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.
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