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They're Ready to Get Back in the Game

Now for an example of either life imitating TV, or life at fifty-something — you choose.

Kathy and Mike Quattrone made major choices in 2001 when, over a six-month span, they decided to resign their positions with Discovery Networks U.S.

Both were network general managers at the time — Mike with Discovery Channel, Kathy with Discovery Health Channel.

Both label the decision their personal version of Trading Spaces, as in trading key roles at one of the cable industry's most prestigious programmers for more quality time with each other.

At age 51, they're now devoting the bulk of that time inside a former farmhouse on 16 acres overlooking Maryland's Chesapeake Bay that they've turned into their own nine-room permanent paradise.

"It's a peaceful lifestyle," Kathy Quattrone maintained when asked about the couple's reasons for leaving Discovery. "We just wanted to enjoy it more and live to a less-hectic rhythm. We both loved the jobs we had, but we wanted to step back."

Discovery Channel "was the most enjoyable professional experience I ever had," Mike Quattrone said. "I was able to be an eight-year-old kid in a suit. Working with talented producers, scientists and explorers was a wonderful time."

These days, Mike directs his energy and enthusiasm toward remodeling and expanding the home he and Kathy first occupied as a weekend retreat during 1995, four years after they were married nearby.

Located about 90 minutes from Discovery's new complex in Silver Spring, Md., the property not only faces that beautiful body of water, but a nest of ospreys. These birds spend their winters in South America and fly north to the U.S. after St. Patrick's Day.

"We think of spring as the season of returning ospreys instead of upfronts. Your blood pressure goes down immediately after you cross the bridge into this area. You get to love the wildlife and solitude around here," he said.

"I keep expecting them to turn up in Architectural Digest
with one of the great homes on the Chesapeake," said Bob Reid, who succeeded Kathy as Discovery Health's general manager in 2001, and before that had worked as a colleague alongside Mike at Discovery Channel.

"It's going to be a wonderful showplace of style, befitting the two of them," Reid said. "They are like teenagers in love, and when you are around them, seeing Mike in his boat or both of them around that property, you understand the choice. It's really an inspiration to know two middle-aged people leave the jobs because of their love."

Although separated from Discovery, the Quattrones are not entirely divorced from cable matters. Both have fielded offers from established and start-up cable channels. Kathy has already engaged in some part-time consulting work with new channels. The couple also anticipates the launch of a home-office consultancy this summer, focused on industry start-ups, with specific assignments lasting no longer than a few months.

"Most folks who call want me to come back full-time and fix something," Mike Quattrone said. "It's a flattering thing, and I'm not ready to put in that kind of time commitment."

Consulting works out "as a way to keep contributing to TV while working from home," Kathy Quattrone added.

With all the talent the couple worked during their Discovery days, Reid believes the requests for their services — and for full-time employment — will be steady.

"Individually and jointly, they'll get offers," he said. "But I'd be surprised if they came back to running a channel."

Whatever part-time assistance and acumen Mike and Kathy can provide to new networks will have to fit within a schedule that has significant commitments to local institutions. In the last year, they've both joined a conservatory dealing with creatures unique to Chesapeake Bay, as well as the county's historical society.