As the vice president of special projects for Univision Television Group in Los Angeles, Kenneth Klein is often asked to take on some surprising tasks. After last summer’s earthquake, for example, he had to compose and record a public-service announcement to help keep viewers calm in the case of another quake. “Special projects often means a little bit of everything,” says Klein with a laugh.
Forty years ago, when he left MIT with a degree in aerospace engineering, Klein took a job at CBS because he was interested in computerizing television traffic systems to automate tasks ranging from creating sales orders to solving conflicts between advertisers over timing and placement. He saw it as an opportunity to put his love of learning to the test. “It was MIT that taught me how to learn,” he says.
After leaving his position as a programmer and analyst at CBS, Klein held a series of progressively more challenging jobs. At ABC, he managed a team of programmers who developed a comprehensive research system that, among other things, stored Nielsen and Arbitron TV ratings used in creating sales proposals.
In 1981, while still holding a day job, Klein started his own company marketing software he called Sally the Sales Assistant. The program allowed stations to organize their sales and keep better track of their advertising. Thousands of copies were sold to stations across the country, and the product was ultimately sold to Broadcast Management Plus.
Currently, Klein is responsible primarily for systems coördination across Univision’s 35 Spanish-language channels. Part of the job has involved converting the network from an outdated business system to an efficient Excel-based program.
Even now, he is learning new skills: “I am working on improving my Spanish,” he says. And he has remained true to his aerospace roots by becoming a pilot in his spare time. “I do not get nervous,” says Klein, who has also taken up horseback riding in recent years. “Thanks to MIT, I understand how the plane works.” He and his wife, Fifi, live in Marina Del Rey, CA.