A Conversation with Sandra Cordova Micek, New CEO of WTTW, WFMT

This week, Sandra Cordova Micek started her new job as president and CEO of Window to the World Communications, Inc., the parent company of WTTW and WFMT.

Micek previously served as senior vice president of global brands for the Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corporation, and she’s held senior marketing positions in a number of media companies, including USA Today, NBC Universal and Turner Broadcasting.

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A native of Long Island, New York, Micek lives in Wilmette with her husband and two children.

Below, a Q&A with Micek.

Chicago Tonight: Why did you want this new role?

Sandra Cordova Micek: This is an exciting opportunity. I think we’re building off of a really strong foundation in terms of the programming and the content that we have both at WTTW and WFMT. And it’s not very often in your career that you get to balance the experience that you had – so, I came with 25 years of media industry experience – with the things that you’re passionate about: the arts, education, public affairs and the opportunity to sort of continue to help build and transform an organization. Bringing all of those things together is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m thrilled to be here.

The millennial demographic continues to grow – Pew Research Center forecasts millennials will overtake baby boomers as America’s largest living adult generation next year. How do you plan to reach the millennial audience?

I don’t really think of millennials as a demographic. I think of them as a mindset.

The millennial mindset, to me, is all about wanting to do things differently – exploration and discovery. Millennials value experiences more than things. Research shows that again and again. I think what we bring to the table with our programming is the opportunity to give somebody an experience. Whether you’re exploring Chicago or learning about a road trip you can take across America, we’re talking about experiences and I think that our programming resonates really well with someone has a millennial mindset. Whether they’re in the demographic or not, they’ll find programming that is interesting to them on our network.

People don’t remember often that millennials are now having children, they’re young parents. We have so much children’s programming that resonates with millennials because they’re now young parents and they grew up on this programming as well, so now they’re coming full circle and their children are watching.

How important is keeping up with technology?

Media is all kinds of technology. The more that every media company embraces that, the better off they’ll be because the opportunity for us is to get our content, our programming and our shows into people’s hands no matter how people want to consume that programming. So, whether it’s at home on television, or on mobile devices, or on the web, our content and our programming will be where people want to consume it. So, it’s more important than ever that we continue to make sure we’re where people want us to be.

What’s special about Chicago?

I’ve lived in several major cities around the world and I will say that the pride that Chicagoans have in their city – and I moved to Chicago three years ago, so now I consider myself a Chicagoan [laughs] – the pride that people have in this city is second to none. People really embrace everything that Chicago has to offer, from the arts to sports to restaurants and food to just exploring the city. They do that in a way that’s very unique. It’s also a very accessible city to people across the city. People can come here and feel like they can really explore Chicago. It’s a very welcoming city.

We know about your professional background, but what do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work, I really do enjoy spending time with my kids and getting involved in the things that they like. I love to travel with them. Travel is a passion of mine. As much as we can get out and not just travel outside of the Chicago area – but explore Chicago, that’s really important to me, for them to feel like they have a sense of the local community.

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