Last year, Molly Solomon made history when she became the first woman to serve as executive producer for a national sports network, when she was named Executive Producer and Senior Vice President of Production/Operations for the Golf Channel. The much-deserved promotion – Molly has won 10 Emmy awards in her 20-plus year career – proves that gender should not be a roadblock on the way to success.
We had a chance to chat with Molly earlier this week about her career. You can hear more about her work when she’s on campus this Monday at 5:15 p.m. in the Entertainment Business Auditorium for the Television Sports Production Panel presented by the Full Sail University Sports Lab, which will feature Molly, ESPN producer Amy Rosenfeld, and Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame member Geoff Mason.
FS: Can you give us a quick rundown of how you got to where you are now?
MS: I’m a lifer with NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Group. I got a job out of college as an Olympic Researcher back in 1990. [Molly then served for many years as the coordinator producer for NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, which included program development and operational planning.] When the London Olympics ended [last year], I got the call to be the Executive Producer at Golf Channel. It has opened the second chapter of my professional life.
FS: What are your main responsibilities at the Golf Channel?
MS: I’m in charge of all the content that goes on the air at Golf Channel. That means I oversee our tournament production, our news division, our morning news show, and the daily Golf Central evening show (which is similar to SportsCenter). Then we also have an original programming division: we produces our own primetime originals and documentaries. We’ve got a really cool plant here in Orlando. It’s all a lot of fun.
FS: When you became the first woman to serve as executive producer for a national sports network, how did that make you feel? Was it a big deal to you?
MS: It was a really big deal to me. I work in a male-dominated profession, and for a long time I just kept my head down and didn’t really want to address the gender issue. As I moved up and this opportunity presented itself, it really made me take stock and realize I could be a role model. I can show woman that there is a possibility [for a career] in sports production. I’m extremely proud of it and I hope someday [being a woman] won’t be as big of a deal.
FS: Have you ever faced challenges as a woman in your field?
MS: As a woman in sports you always feel like you have to try a little harder, you’ve got to produce even bigger and better results and you just don’t want to fail. Sometimes you think you have to prove you know the subject matter more than guys do. But I think because I’ve always put a 150% effort into everything nobody could ever say I wasn’t qualified.
FS: What is your advice to students wanting a career in television sports production?
MS: I would tell them there’s never been a better time to get into TV sports production. Sports are the most valuable branch out there because they’re DVR proof. Americans consume sports television at a crazy rate. There are so many job opportunities out there. You’ve got to be willing to relocate and work hard and put your career first for a very long time. Also, you need to be dedicated to learning the industry.