Pac-12 Networks Gets Saved By A Bell
Bell was the first person general manager Lydia Murphy-Stephans hired for the programming department. A former director of programming and operations for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Bell was brought on to help organize and manage the significant challenges of starting up seven networks that would produce at least 550 live sporting events.
“Being an athlete, I love having a challenge and trying to conquer it,” Bell said. “I was definitely up for the challenge. I knew it was a huge task and not an easy undertaking, but I love challenges. I was definitely up for it.”
Bell is the director of programming and operations for the Pac-12 Networks, serving as the primary liaison between the networks’ studios in San Francisco and master control in Denver. Her experience at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, and before that, Comcast SportsNet West, made her a perfect fit to help get the Pac-12 Networks off the ground.
Bell was the second person hired by Comcast SportsNet West in Sacramento when it started up in 2004. She began as an administrative assistant but by the second week had been promoted to operations coordinator. Comcast SportsNet Bay Area was already in place when Bell became its director of programming and operations in 2007, but she was in place when the network went through a major rebranding and influx of new, original content.
“We obviously were charged with producing a big volume of events,” Murphy-Stephans said. “She has a strong background in programming and operations. We needed someone who could help with connecting the dots from production to scheduling to on-air. We needed her to have a seat at the table to assess what we were charged with doing.”
Bell stumbled upon the television production business, and the Pac-12 Networks couldn’t be happier. After starting for four years at Georgia Tech, she became a graduate assistant and worked as an administrative assistant for an associate athletic director on campus. She got a taste of operations when she helped Georgia Tech host the NCAA men’s basketball regionals in Atlanta.
Bell decided she wanted to find a career that blended sports and operations, but she never really considered television.
“When I started at Comcast SportsNet West, I had no idea what master control meant,” she said. “It was one of the most exciting times for me. The learning curve was so high. I was like a sponge and picked everything up as fast as I could. You needed to learn something on Monday and be able to do it on Tuesday. It was anything goes at that point.”
One of Bell’s biggest assets to the Pac-12 Networks is her ability to, along with programming director Dustin Rocke, oversee and manage the maze that is the programming schedule. With hundreds of live events and different original shows being aired, Bell’s programming background has proven to be extremely beneficial in successfully mapping out the intersection of all the moving parts that make up the networks.
“She knows all the nuances behind live sports and programming and production,” Murphy-Stephans said. “Once I knew what we were in for, I needed to make sure I hired people with the appropriate skill set and personality. She’s very cool under pressure. She likes to assess a situation and tinker with it. She has a mind for operations.”
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