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Big move: Janesville native Hughes gets NBC job

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THOMAS J. MILLER
October 5, 2011

Greg Hughes’ life is about to take him from the shadows of the Janesville General Motors building to the Rockefeller Center in New York City.


The “things-to-do” work list for the Janesville native and 1982 Craig High graduate soon will include NBC’s Sunday Night Football, this season’s Super Bowl, 2012 Summer Olympics, the U.S. Open, Stanley Cup finals and Triple Crown races, among many other high-profile national and international sports events.


On Tuesday, the 47-year-old Hughes was named the Senior Vice President, Communications, NBC Sports Group.


Hughes and his wife, Lisa, will move to New York City from their suburban Atlanta home in the next month. He will assume his new duties Oct. 31.


Hughes worked 19 years at Turner Broadcasting before starting Sedan Communications in Atlanta five years ago. While his work at TBS and Sedan involved duties similar to those he is going to have at NBC, Hughes’ duties at NBC are greatly expanded.


“Media relations, strategies as far as crisis management, promotions, positioning of everything from television ratings to on-air personalities to executives are all part of this new position,” Hughes said last week while he was in Janesville.


So, if NBC’s coverage of next July’s Olympics in London gets a critical review for any reason, Hughes will be there to explain the network’s work.


If a media outlet wants to interview Al Michaels or Bob Costas, Hughes and/or members of his new staff will set them up.


He will monitor ratings and plan coverage and media strategies not only for NBC, but the network’s other outlets, including the Golf Channel, Versus, and the 11 Comcast Regional Sports Network’s nationwide.


While the remainder of the NFL Sunday night schedule (including this week’s Sunday night game between the Packers and Falcons in Atlanta) and the Super Bowl carries high importance, Hughes’ main area of work will deal with the upcoming Summer Olympics as he jumps into the newly created executive position.


“The Olympics are so enormous in the amount of coverage hours and the amount of things involved,” Hughes said of the upcoming challenge. “We have to put that together and reach the media in the proper ways.”


Hughes will be the spokesperson of the NBC coverage.


“(We have to determine) the best ways to get out information about our coverage hours and whose going to be doing what, and where you can find things and what the different business elements are from sales and television ratings and how that helps the rest of the NBC schedule and overall company,” Hughes said.


Hughes has stayed in touch with his native city through the years. Almost four years ago, he bought GameDay Sports Bar & Grill on Jackson Street with long-time friend Rick Cole, who runs the day-to-day operations.


Last fall, he, along with cousin Brian Hughes, purchased the former Jumbo’s bar on Center Avenue and renamed it BaZinga. Both places have undergone major changes and renovations since those purchases.


“I love Janesville and the people here, and I have three brothers and a gazillion friends in the area,” Hughes said. “It will always be home for me.”


While Greg plans to make continued visits here, his new job will require most of his attention.


Hughes led publicity and communications for TNT’s coverage of the NBA (1990-2006), NFL (1990-97) and three Winter Olympics (1992, ’94 and ’98), and was also in charge of communications strategy for five Goodwill Games, the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Thrashers, and numerous other events and Turner network properties.


In January, the Versus network will be renamed as NBC Sports Network. Hughes’ work at Turner will help him develop that channel, as well as The Golf Channel and the 11 regional Comcast sports channels NBC Sports Group oversees.


That’s a major job for someone who walked into the Turner Towers and asked for a job after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism with an emphasis on public relations.


He started as a tour guide for CNN Studio Tours in August of ’87.


Ten years later, Hughes received the UW journalism school’s Ralph Nafziger Award for Achievement.


Now, as Frank Sinatra sang, he’s about to “make a brand new start of it in old New York.”



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