Women of Influence

Jennifer Geisser, B.A.’90

On Entertainment’s Front Line

By Stephen Shoemaker, B.A.’02

When Teresa Giudice of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for fraud last year, Jennifer Geisser fielded a flood of media calls. She’s no stranger to the need to comment – or not – on the misdeeds of television personalities. It comes with her job as vice president of Communications for Bravo, the cable network on which “Housewives” airs.

“You choose certain real-life characters to be part of reality programming because they are over the top,” Geisser says. “Things just happen in their lives, whether they bring it upon themselves or it’s just a natural day-to-day thing for them.”

Geisser serves in the same capacity for the Oxygen network, an additional role she took on near the end of 2013. On the East and West coasts, she oversees teams working to promote brand and programming awareness to media and audiences – and handling the occasional crisis-management situation. Her communications career has spanned some of the biggest names in cable networks: CourtTV, the Hallmark Channel, We tv, and AMC among them.

“Culturally, each job has been different. The pace has been very different,” Geisser says, comparing the immediacy of CourtTV’s daytime coverage of ongoing trials to the family-friendly programming of Hallmark.

Geisser sensed she wanted to work in entertainment when she first came to UAlbany. “I just loved to watch TV. I was a big TV person growing up,” she says. An internship at an Albany radio station helped confirm that notion.

“I enjoyed the internship, and I learned a lot,” adds Geisser. “But I realized I wanted to be more on the front line [of entertainment] than you are in radio.”