Women to Watch

Women to Watch: M.J. Cavanagh, Aspire, GMC TV and Sportsman Channel

Exec VP-Ad Sales

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Mary Jeanne ("M.J.") Cavanagh has made a name for herself as the go-to ad-sales executive for TV-network startups. A 28-year industry vet, Ms. Cavanagh oversees not one team but two, for InterMedia Partner's GMC and Sportsman Channel.

M.J. Cavanagh
M.J. Cavanagh
Ms. Cavanagh closed early upfronts this year on GMC, whose ad revenue is up 50% from last year. At Sportsman Channel, which is in 30 million households and recently became Nielsen-rated, she is expanding the network of national, nonendemic advertisers.

At the same time, Ms. Cavanagh is working tirelessly during the upfront season to sell Magic Johnson's network, Aspire. The cable channel will have 10 partners when it launches June 27.

Ms. Cavanagh is no stranger to startups. She worked on the rollout of TVLand and the relaunches of CMT and TNN (now Spike), and at Oxygen in its early days. "I love the thrill of watching a network go from wondering if it will stay in business to profitability," she said.

When Oxygen moved to NBC Universal, Ms. Cavanagh made the transition along with the network but quickly realized she preferred working at an independent player. So she jumped at the opportunity to help roll out GMC, a network she says fills the void for uplifting, family entertainment.

Give us one fact about yourself that will surprise people.
I'm a ballroom dancer.

If I wasn't doing this job, I'd be ...
I would be an interior designer. I recently bought a foreclosed house and designed it and flipped it for a profit. At GMC I sell space and visualize space. I love to build things and figure out how to mix things up to make it look good.

What's your favorite kind of music?
I love rock 'n' roll. I listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N' Roses -- I'm also a fan of Train and Adele. And because my kids listen to rap, I enjoy it, too. My favorite rapper is Kanye.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story noted that the J. in M.J. Cavanagh stood for Jean; it actually stands for Jeanne. Also Ms. Cavanagh worked for CMT previously, not BET.