A little more than a year after being acquired by a group headed by NBC Universal, The Weather Channel Cos. have a full-time CEO -- former AOL Media Networks president Michael Kelly.
Kelly will be responsible for the strategic direction and operations of the cable channel -- distributed in 99 million homes -- The Weather Channel Interactive and weather.com, the third most-visited news and information brand; The Weather Channel Mobile; weather Services International and Enterprise Electronics Corp.
Kelly has nearly 30 years experience in the media industry -- since 2007 he has served as an adviser to cable private equity fund Veronis Suhler Stevenson, identifying and assessing media investment opportunities At AOL Media from 2004 to 2007, Kelly helped reposition the online giant in the media and advertising space guiding the company through a series of acquisitions including Advertising.com and Third Screen Media. Prior to AOL, Kelly served as president of global marketing at Time Warner.
"The Weather Channel Companies is a unique organization; it is the premier weather information destination on every platform - TV, Web, Mobile and business to business," Kelly said in a statement. "This is a remarkable and exciting opportunity to be part of a powerful media brand which delivers consumers the information they want where and when they want it while offering advertisers cutting edge cross-platform solutions. This multiplatform success will fuel our growth."
Kelly replaces Lisa Gersh, president of strategic initiatives at NBC Universal, who had been serving as interim CEO of The Weather Channel Cos. since February, when Deborah Wilson stepped down from the job. NBCU, Bain Capital and the Blackstone Group completed its $3.5 billion deal to acquire the channel from Landmark Cos. in September 2008.
The news of Kelly's appointment comes as a slight surprise - former CNBC executive Bill Bolster was considered by many media outlets to be a front runner for the position back in March. However, later reports said that Bolster dropped out of the running after he asked the company for a private jet to shuttle him from his homes in Florida and St. Louis to Atlanta, TWC's headquarters.
In a joint statement, Gersh, Blackstone senior managing director Michael Chae and Bain Capital managing director Ian Loring praised Kelly, adding, "He understands how to reach our viewers and users and partner with our advertisers in order to maximize the growth of the business on a cross-platform basis."
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