Gene Walsh, Longtime NBC Media Relations Executive, Dies at 87


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Gene Walsh who contributed three decades as a broadcasting executive for NBC in New York and later on in Burbank, has died at the age of 87.

Walsh passed on Sept. 1 of normal causes at his home in Burbank, marketing specialist Charles Barrett reported.

The main staff member to head NBC press and exposure divisions on the two coasts, Walsh worked intimately with Johnny Carson and Bob Hope and with top executives including Grant Tinker and Brandon Tartikoff during his profession.

Walsh joined NBC in 1961 in its magazine, exchange, and program exposure units. He was elevated to head the 50-part press and exposure division in 1973 and named a VP in 1975. After two years, he was moved to Burbank to lead the 45-part press and exposure division there. He resigned in 1991.

In New York, Walsh was the draftsman of the exposure crusade behind the ground-breaking Saturday Night Live, which debuted in 1975.

In their 1986 book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, writers Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad credited Walsh for perceiving that NBC’s new late-night program was “the main new show the organization had that it could highlight with any pride.”

Under Walsh, the prevalence of NBC’s exposure activity was singled out by TCA president David Williams of the Arizona Daily Star in 1983.  “No network does as well as NBC in attending to the myriad of details that make a press tour succeed. … Everyone at NBC is relaxed, friendly and to an astonishing degree, willing to tell you the truth.”

At his retirement function, Walsh noticed that Carson consented to do a wide range of audience-building publicity, some of which could be classified as frivolous,”  when he took over for Jack Paar as host of The Tonight Show in 1962.

“However, in a few years, with superstar status achieved and his ratings solidified, Johnny knew his best publicity was what he did every night on his show. He neither needed nor wanted any more audience-building publicity. Our primary job was to publicize what he did on his show and fend off the hundreds of interview requests from the press.”

Walsh likewise credited Tinker and Tartikoff from taking NBC from toward the end in the appraisals to No. 1. “Award and Brandon drew to NBC the best journalists, makers, and entertainers by giving them for all intents and purposes free rein,” he said.

Brought into the world in 1933, Walsh won letters in football, b-ball, baseball, and track at Saranac Lake High School in New York, graduating in 1952.

In the wake of going to Paul Smith’s College and St. Lawrence University and serving in the U.S. Armed force, Walsh worked in Saranac Lake as a correspondent and sports writer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and as an in-depth host for radio broadcast WNBZ prior to being employed by NBC.

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As an office chief, Walsh persuaded his association to address photographic artists in New York and his association addressed marketing specialists and photographic artists in Burbank to decertify, permitting the whole NBC exposure activity to be non-association so a singular’s compensation was controlled by their presentation.

He additionally began the principal NBC press cost-recuperation program, selling exposure materials like storylines, pictures, and provisions to the partnership organizations dispersing NBC projects to stations. Billings found the middle value of $80,000 yearly.

A long-lasting individual from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Walsh spent numerous years on the directorate and as the financial officer of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.

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