Alumnus of the Month: March 2007
B.A. '75, M.A. '76
What is your edge (strength)?
I've always felt being a good communicator, regardless of the person or situation I'm dealing with. You'd be surprised how many people you come into contact with in business - or in life - that really don't know how to express themselves to someone else. That, plus I like to win.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
I'm sure much has changed on the Hofstra campus since I graduated back in the dark ages - 1975 - but those were great times! I was a commuter, so I wasn't always on campus after my classes were done for the day, but after my freshman year, I realized that there was so much more about Hofstra that I was missing, so I began to get more involved in clubs, extracurricular events and, most importantly for me at that time, I joined the venerable Hofstra Chronicle. From the first week I worked on the paper, I felt I had an edge, an advantage that I did not have before.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I'm currently in the cable television industry. Specifically, I run network advertising sales for YES Network, the home of the New York Yankees and New Jersey Nets, among other top programming. We're a regional sports network similar to our competitors, MSG, FSNY and SNY, the new Mets network. I received a B.A. in English and master's degree in American history and was pre-law, but life doesn't always turn out the way you might expect it to! After graduating, I just changed my mind and decided that law school wasn't for me. And, as so often happens in life, I met a childhood friend who was in the media industry. One thing led to the next, and within a couple of months I was a research analyst for a television representative firm, Petry Television ... my first real job.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned here?
Petry Television, located in Manhattan, was my first job. I spent 10 great years there, something pretty uncommon in a business where people change jobs every few years. I went from research into sales, then sales management and ultimately senior management. That's where I learned how to communicate with people in various situations. Since we were a national television rep, we had clients from stations across the country. I had to learn quickly how to deal with someone's concerns, whether they were from Wheeling-Steubenville, Albuquerque, or San Francisco. I realized that the better I could get my point across, or understand theirs, the more successful I became in my job.
What is your single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
Having met the wide variety of fascinating people that I've dealt with over the past 30 years, people like Rupert Murdoch (News Corp), John Kluge (Metromedia's founder), Leonard Goldenson (ABC's founder), Ted Turner, George Steinbrenner, Mel Karmazin, and Walter Cronkite in the media business, and a host of sports greats too numerous to mention, but one does stand out ... Muhammad Ali. Let's just say I've been lucky!
Who in your field do you most admire?
That's easy … Rupert Murdoch. There's a certain depth and charisma to him that's hard to describe. In the media/communications industry - broadcast, Cable, Print, DBS and Satellite - he's at the top of the food chain. I was lucky to work for him running FOX5. One person has never before controlled as large a "share of voice" of the world's population as does Rupert through his myriad of companies. That's something special in today's world.
What was your major?
My major was English, with a minor in American history. Professors Brodwin (he's passed on), Prigozy, Sargeant, Davison, D'Innocenzo ... they were like gods to me back then. I had never before dealt with such worldly and intense people ... it was a bit overwhelming ... as was the workload from them!
What was your favorite class?
American Studies with Prof. Stanley Brodwin … Melville, Thoreau, Twain, Emerson, Poe, Dreiser ... does it get any better?
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
Meeting my wife, Ronny, when we were juniors. We had three classes together for a semester ... that's all it took! I still remember the first time I saw her sitting outside Professor Prigozy's office in the English Department's building ... was it Calkins Hall?
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Eventful ... in the fullest meaning of the word!
What advice would you give current students?
Get involved, don't wait until you're a sophomore ... stand out and be counted ... communicate!
How do you balance work and life?
This is my 31st year in the media business, and I still haven't found out how to balance them both. Let's just say I know what I want to get done everyday, and everything seems to get accomplished. You have to learn to be malleable ... life doesn't always give you what you want, and many times, the unexpected is fun.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Fly fishing on a cool, mountain stream ... no cell phone or BlackBerry.
When did you become an avid sports fan?
I'm not sure my close friends and business associates would call me an "avid" sports fan. How about an "involved" fan?
How would you describe your experience serving as an adviser to the Hofstra School of Communication?
Advising the School of Communication is an honor for me. I'm especially interested in the internship programs, mentoring, guest lecturing on campus. I've had some pretty incredible students intern with me over the past five years, and all are very successful in the business to this day. What's most impressive about Hofstra's School of Communication is how progressive everyone is - faculty, management, Students ... no one sits still for long without voicing an opinion!
Michael Wach was named executive vice president of ad sales for YES Network in November 2004. He oversees all national, regional and local advertising sales for the most-watched regional sports television network in the country, which televises the 26-time World Champion New York Yankees and the New Jersey Nets.
Prior to joining YES, Michael held a series of senior positions at New York media companies, including vice president and general manager at WNYW/FOX 5-TV in New York, the flagship station of the Fox Television Network from 1998 to 2001. While there, he helped the station experience unprecedented growth, becoming the local over-the-air outlet for the New York Yankees games.
More recently, from June 2003 to November 2004, Michael was general sales manager at Infinity Broadcasting's WFAN-AM in New York City, the country's preeminent sports talk radio station. WFAN is home to Imus in the Morning, Mike and the Mad Dog (simulcast live on YES), the New York Mets and the New Jersey Nets.
Before arriving at WFAN, Wach was executive vice president of sales for Rainbow Media Group's local and regional business, both nationally and throughout the tri-state area from October 2001 to May 2003. Owned by Cablevision, the nation's fifth largest cable MSO, this included the News 12 Networks, the New York Interconnect, Metro Channels and New York Cablevision sales for the 32 local cable systems.
An experienced station manager prior to joining WNYW, Michael was also managing partner and president of BGI/Alpha Broadcasting, Inc., a company he helped found in 1995 that owned and operated radio and TV stations. He also served as executive vice president and general manager of WLNY-TV in Melville, Long Island; vice president of sales at Tribune Broadcasting's WPIX-TV in New York; and vice president of sales and national sales manager at Boston's WHDH-TV. He started his media career with Petry Television in New York, where he rose from research analyst to vice president and group sales manager. Michael earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a master's degree in History from Hofstra University. He currently serves on the Executive Board of the International Radio & Television Society (IRTS), as chairman of the Executive Board of Child Abuse Prevention Services (CAPS), and as an adviser to Hofstra's School of Communication.