Ms. Stein worked for 17 years at NBC, rising to VP-news sales at the network. But with her boss and mentor, Larry Hoffner, firmly entrenched as president of NBC ad sales, it took Lucie Salhany, UPN's chairman, to give Ms. Stein the opportunity to run her own ship.
Now, Ms. Stein will be competing against not just NBC but also ABC, CBS, Fox and the WB network. And the people running all of those ad sales divisions are men.
As UPN's first senior VP-network sales, Ms. Stein is planning on building a department with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit.
The challenge is daunting, but Ms. Stein, 39, doesn't flinch. Reportedly, though UPN wrote about $100 million of business during last year's upfront sales period, Ms. Salhany thought the network should have brought in more. So after a major search, she tapped Ms. Stein to head UPN's first stand-alone ad sales division.
And, clearly, Ms. Stein is already talking the right talk.
"I think there are untapped dollars out there for us," she says. "I want to grow the UPN client roster."
Ms. Stein's first job at NBC was as a production assistant on the "Today" show. She got to know then-host Tom Brokaw fairly well, and one day Mr. Brokaw asked her what she wanted to do, long-term. When her answer wasn't on the production side of the business, Mr. Brokaw replied that he couldn't really help her.
"I sometimes wonder how my life would have been if I had answered differently," Ms. Stein says.