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Hulu Needs Mel Karmazin

Hulu Needs Mel Karmazin

Whoever gets control of Hulu should recruit Mel Karmazin to be its CEO.

This is not exactly a brand new observation. I wrote it many months ago. It made sense then, and now. See that story:

Karmazin, who left Sirius XM in December, has the chief quality that a Hulu leader must have: He is a world-class salesman.

The New Hulu won’t have the backing of powerful media titans, like the Old Hulu. This will require someone to head the operation who can get things done, someone who is not afraid to take charge and someone who can, in the immortal words of Ralph Bellamy in Trading Places, sell sell sell.

Hulu’s brass has to sell consumers on the fact that Hulu has a new and better way of serving them (even if it does not). Hulu has to forge deals with content generators so it has something to sell sell sell. Hulu has to prsent a strong image to the media.

These are areas where Karmazin, who turns 70 next month, shines. He is fearless. He was the No. 2 to Sumner Redstone at CBS (that makes him automatically fearless). He conquered terrestrial radio, and then helped give satellite radio cachet. He shouldn’t go into retireemnt just yet., no matter how wealthy he is

Karmazin ran New York’s WNEW-AM and WNEW-FM in their heydays for Metromdia when he was asked to take charge of Infinity Broadcasting in 1981. He added additional New York stations WKTU-FM and WFAN, the model for an all-sports network on radio,  

In a job he clearly loved, Karmazin ran Infinity for 15 years, then sold the company to Westinghouse, CBS’s parent. Karmazin had the prestigious job of head of CBS but found that he didn’t like being the No. 2 boss to anyone, even (especially?) Redstone.

Outside of the media, Karmazin had a strong reputation, too. Karmazin himself had a reputation as a favorite of Wall Street investors because of his ability to jump-start a company’s stock price.

Karmazin took control of Sirius in 2004 and had close ties to shock-jock Hoard Stern.. 

In his first year at Sirius, Fortune noted, reported in November 2005, Karmazin struck arrangements with Ford and BMW to have the company’s radios in their new cars and helped launch Sirius’s first portable music player (both initiatives were in the wake of Sirius’s rival, XM Radio, pioneering those moves). He also wooed Martha Stewart to Sirius, won the programming rights to NASCAR and raised $500 million in debt financing.

Sell, sell, sell.

The strong-willed Karmazin can be combustible, irascible and downright stubborn.

In other words, he is just what Hulu needs.

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