Former CBS executive Jim McKairnes named Verizon Chair in Global Broadband and Telecommunications

Jim McKairnes
(Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Television producer and consultant Jim McKairnes has been named the Verizon Chair in Global Broadband and Telecommunications at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication.

McKairnes, who graduated from Temple in 1982 with a journalism degree, is a 23-year veteran of the television industry, including 15 years at CBS.

As the Verizon Chair, McKairnes will host the Verizon Symposium on Global Broadband and Telecommunications in spring 2014. Also, he will teach two classes each semester in the 2013-14 academic year, conduct independent studies and serve as consultant to the Department of Media Studies and Production to help foster new television industry opportunities for Temple students.

McKairnes looks forward to teaching in one of the historic capital cities of the television industry.

“Philadelphia is a hub for communication and a great place to learn about the changing world of broadcasting,” he says.

He will be able to pass along insider knowledge of the industry. “The students want to know what it’s like to actually work in these jobs, to understand how the professional world works and find out what it’s like on a day-to-day basis.”

A native of Northeast Philadelphia, McKairnes was born into a television family — his father was a writer and performer on a show called “Lit’s Have Fun” (named after the Lit Brothers department store) in the early days of Philadelphia broadcasting.

Immediately following his graduation from Temple, McKairnes worked as an entertainment magazine editor and freelance writer before moving to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of working as a network programmer.

At CBS, McKairnes initially divided his responsibilities between the current programming and scheduling departments but was soon moved full-time into scheduling. It was a move that helped to take CBS from the bottom of the network ratings ladder in the 1990s to the top in the 2000s, under the leadership of CBS President Leslie Moonves.

In 2006, McKairnes moved to Discovery Communications to head its 11 networks as executive vice president of scheduling before returning to CBS two years later as senior vice president in charge of developing new comedies for its cable division. He has since focused on the creative end of the business.

Currently, McKairnes serves as a consultant for various TV networks and is an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University. He has written two books, 103 Ways to Get into TV (by 102 who did plus me) and The Sheep is What Makes it Funny: From Philadelphia to CBS, How I Found Myself in Television.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Jim McKairnes serve as Verizon Chair in the School of Media and Communication,” says School of Media and Communication Dean Thomas Jacobson. “He has professional experience that is both broad and deep in the television industry. I look forward to the exciting courses and programs he will create while he is here as well as the industry connections he will be able to facilitate for our faculty and students.”

Professor Jan Fernback, chair of the Media Studies and Production Department, says his vast television industry experience has allowed McKairnes to intimately understand the changing media landscape.

“Jim’s expertise in programming will bring a new, strategic voice into the academic conversation about converging media in a globalized environment,” Fernback says.