The Players

The Builder: Richard Allen, president/CEO of National Geographic Ventures, the Society's for-profit division that includes the television channels, Web sites and retail business. Allen joined National Geographic in November 1997. His career trajectory includes practicing corporate law, co-authoring and editing Collected Speeches of Robert Kennedy, advising President Clinton as a member of the senior staff, and launching business ventures for Discovery Communications. Allen was instrumental in putting together the convergent Web plays and retail deals that will support and extend the television channel. "It's very difficult to think about a television channel in the straight, old manifestation."

The Designer: Andrew Wilk, executive vice president of the newly developed programming-and-production division, has been turning out National Geographic programs for more than 10 years. Wilk freelanced in television for 15 years before landing his first full-time job as vice president of Nat Geo TV programming in 1994. A symphony conductor and multiple Emmy Award winner, Wilk is in charge of defining the look of the channel, packaging existing library products, developing new shows and determining the schedule. Said Wilk: "If people think this is going to be your father's Geographic or the dentist's office Geographic, they're mistaken."

The Noisemaker: Dennis Patton, executive vice president, marketing and new media, comes to NGC by way of Rainbow Media, where he spent 15 years in various positions, including launching and running MuchMusic in the U.S. and managing the sports-channels division.

An avid adventure traveler, Patton hiked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro with a supply of Wet Naps that he used to barter with his fellow unshowered trekkers. Now he has to make a 112-year-old brand scream "new," but Patton's primary goal is more basic: "Our main charge is to launch the channel and raise awareness for it."

The Salesman: Richard Goldfarb, senior vice president of media sales, is a veteran of media management and ad sales, starting with a job managing music licensing for TV and radio stations at Sesac in 1975. Since then, Goldfarb's 25-year odyssey has involved syndication and national ad sales with several agencies as well as Viacom, FOX Kids, NBC Cable and Turner, where he supervised sales of the National Geographic Explorer series. Two deals are already finalized, and two more are pending, he said. "The advertising community very much wants to deal with the brand itself."-D.D.McA.