Growing up in a broadcasting family, Kelsey Prescott never imagined she would end up in TV or radio — but at 30, she has landed her dream job with Rocky Mountain PBS as Southern Colorado regional director and executive director of the Tim Gill Center for Public Media. She had been all over the world before finding her husband, starting a family and entering public media. Originally from Michigan, she earned a degree in environmental studies from the University of Vermont and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon before moving to Colorado in 2008 to work at FOX21 and CW57. She joined RMPBS in 2011 as an account executive and then replaced former director Amanda Mountain. Prescott talked of her travels, blossomed career and the family she is cultivating here.
How did you initially get into broadcast?
I was in the Peace Corps in Cameroon in West Africa, and when I got back I had a really hard time rejoining American culture. I had a difficult time knowing what I wanted to do, and because of that I sought help from my father, who owned a broadcasting corporation out of Chicago. One of the stations that he owned at the time was FOX21/CW57, so he connected me with folks at the station. They had a position open in research, which I thought would be a good segue into the job market after essentially living in the bush for a couple of years. I started there in 2008 and loved research. … I transitioned very quickly, just a couple of months in, to a sales role and loved that too. … When I finished my MBA, I decided it was time to try something else and broaden my horizons. That’s when I met Amanda Mountain. My time in sales sort of lent itself to Rocky Mountain PBS, which was looking for someone that could build revenue. So that’s what brought me on over here.
What is your day-to-day like?
We have a very lean team here in Southern Colorado — there are five of us altogether, and we all do everything. So for me, it varies widely. Right now a large focus is events. Always a large focus in this business is on revenue: Thinking about underwriting; bringing on new underwriters; thinking about how our current underwriters are performing. … We’re a nonprofit, and almost 70 percent of our revenue comes from our members. So thinking about how to communicate with our members and working with them on a local level is tremendously important. We want to be as pertinent as possible and we spend a lot of time thinking about how to stay relevant.
What is the environment in Colorado Springs like for career development?
I have always been extremely critical of it. But when I look back on how I’ve grown here, I can’t help but feel differently. To some extent you just have to make your own way and find your own group of people and find your career. … For a lot of young people I feel like they wonder if they will have a social death if they come to Colorado Springs. I thought that for a long time and suddenly looked back and realized that I’m about to have a baby with my husband, whom I love very much, and we own a house together and have a dog. … You just have to find those outlets and you go with them. … I think that I’m probably one of the luckiest people in town to have been able to work so closely with Amanda Mountain, who has been my mentor. She really inspired me to do whatever I needed to do to get to this place. This spot that I’m in right now is my job goal, so I think, “What do I do next?” I run a television station! So my goal next is to run PBS and take over for [PBS CEO] Paula Kerge in Washington, D.C. It all started right here in Colorado Springs. nCSBJ