Social-Media Mavens

Ron Wechsler, B.A.’92

Ron Wechsler

The Significance of Social-Media Platforms

By Stephen Shoemaker, B.A.’02

Sports perfectly illustrate the symbiosis between social media and live events. That fact isn’t lost on Ron Wechsler, senior vice president for Original Programming and Production at NBC Sports: He says he contemplates the role social media play in his industry on a daily basis.

“Anything that comes up, I want to make sure, at the very least, I have an understanding of how it is being consumed,” he said. As a result, Wechsler has adopted social-media platforms not necessarily targeted to his demographic.

“A 45-year-old guy on Snapchat isn’t the norm,” he quipped. Still, it’s an especially good example of the platform he seeks, observed Wechsler, who earned a B.A. in English with a minor in rhetoric and communication at UAlbany. While the perception of Snapchat was an app for tweens and teens, it’s quickly become a much bigger player in the game – one that broadcasters and networks are rushing to embrace.

“Sometimes, you’re chasing very ephemeral platforms,” he said. “And sometimes, if you’re not paying attention, what seems insignificant can become incredibly significant almost overnight.”

While live events are the bread and butter of sports networks, Wechsler knows there’s a role for social media in helping to promote the types of original programming – documentaries, reality series, etc. – he oversees. Compelling, humorous, “OMG!” or cliché “viral” posts can all be inclinations to tune in. “Those are the sorts of things anybody in the content business tries to tap into, whether you’re NBC or BuzzFeed,” he said.

Though social media hasn’t altered the core responsibility of putting out a quality televised product, Wechsler said it has made tapping into the zeitgeist much easier. “The world is your focus group. Pay attention; figure out what people are talking about,” he noted. “You have access to what they’re enjoying, or not enjoying, in a real timeline. That is an incredible tool.”

Next: Andrew Pudalov, B.S.’88