Cecil L. Walker ’59, former chairman and CEO of Gannett Broadcasting in Virginia, was named the 2013 CBA Master. While on campus for Alumni Master’s Week, Nov. 13-15, he spoke to classes, student organizations and faculty, and shared his insight of managing a major corporation in the broadcasting industry.
“Trust your gut feeling. Always ask yourself if the timing is right and ‘What does the customer think?’ An educated gut makes a good decision,” Walker said when speaking to CBA Communications and Marketing Office during his visit.
He excelled at Gannett Broadcasting, a media and marketing solutions company with a diverse portfolio of broadcast, digital, mobile and publishing companies, by living this advice. Walker climbed the corporate ladder from working at a news affiliate to running the company as president and chief executive officer in 1987.
Under Walker’s leadership, the company built one of the strongest groups of locally managed TV and radio stations.
“Each local manager was given the responsibility of autonomy, which was based on knowledge and understanding the culture of Gannett Broadcasting,” he said.
During his career, he saw a huge shift in how people receive their news and entertainment. He positioned Gannett Broadcasting for a more connected and digital world.
Walker takes time to speak with business students
“This shift has been an ongoing activity for broadcasters since the late 1940s when TV was introduced,” he said. “We used individuals and committees of the staff and board to monitor, brainstorm and initiate action.”
He retired in 2002 from his position as chairman and CEO and served on several boards including the Board of Directors at Broadcast Music, Inc., a global leader in music rights management. He was on their board until 2013 and served as chairman for four years. With BMI, he worked with renowned musical artists like Gloria Estefan, Dolly Parton, Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.
Walker and his wife, Jeanette "Jan" Turner Walker ’59, live in Newnan, Ga., and have three children and 11 grandchildren. They also have a special interest in developing the leaders of tomorrow and established the Walker Family Scholarships at UNL.