Alvernia Magazine | Ratings Game

How do you make a TV show a smash hit that trends hot and heavy on Twitter?

The answer can often be found in the marketing mix: commercials hinting at a major plot twist in the next episode, billboards teasing an exciting season, consumer promotions that drive rabid fans into a frenzy for a must-win prize.

“It’s really about reaching your audience, cutting through the clutter and showing them why they want to watch this,” explains Emily Rabadi '12, a project manager on TLC’s marketing strategy team. Rabadi should know. She is determined to convince you and the rest of America to tune into the next episode of TLC shows like “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.”

Among her latest projects is managing a major national promotion for fans of “Long Island Medium” to win a reading with the show’s star, psychic medium Theresa Caputo.

But the former Alvernian standout didn’t always have her sights set on network television. In fact, at first Rabadi thought she would become a magazine writer. Before finishing high school, she even interned at a local magazine near her home in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.

At Alvernia, she saw an opportunity to bloom as a person, develop important skills she would need to launch her career and build close relationships with faculty. One of her mentors became Dr. Jodi Radosh, associate professor of English and communication, whose background included a successful stint in TV news.

“She was one of those students who I could tell, from day one, was going to do well,” Radosh says of her former advisee. “She was so excited to be in class and wanted to soak up as much as she could.”

When Rabadi saw the world of print journalism turning upside down, she decided to reinvent her dream. She stepped out of her comfort zone in a broadcasting class with Radosh and found she loved the atmosphere of BCTV’s Reading studio. Marketing was a great way to combine that love with her writing skills.

By the time Rabadi collected her degree in communication, she had landed internships for the E! Network in London and the National Geographic Channel in Washington.

“I’d always had my foot in the real world, and it was hard for me not to at college,” she says.

In London, she found another mentor, Rubi Chavez Horst, who directed marketing for Europe, Africa and the Middle East for NBC Universal, parent company of E!. Horst says Rabadi had an international viewpoint and understood why certain shows were more successful in different countries.

“She asked lots of questions, and she was very curious about why everything was the way it was,” says Horst, now executive director of marketing for NBC/Universal International Television.

Rabadi started working for TLC’s parent company, Discovery Communications, in 2013. One bonus is that her offices are in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Md., not far from Potomac, where she attended high school.

She understands that several of TLC’s subjects come with their share of controversy. But viewers don’t have to agree with what they see, Rabadi says, and that’s okay. TV is a platform to share all kinds of stories, she says.

“We really are a no-judgment zone because you see all different walks of life on our network,” she says. And America would have it no other way!

— By Rebecca VanderMeulen