Interview: Katie Lucas, Digital Producer at The Dr. Oz Show and Founder of Character Grades
What path led you to landing a digital producer role at The Dr. Oz Show?
I was a Page at NBC working for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon when The Dr. Oz Show was getting ready to launch in fall of 2009. Jimmy’s studio, 6A, was just across the hallway from Oz’s new studio and the staff slowly trickled onto the floor to see the space. They all had questions like “Who do I call to turn the lights on?”and “Where is the bathroom?” that as a Page had been seared into dark corners of my brain. My desk was right in the hallway, so I helped out the show staff and got to know everybody. They approached me when they were looking to hire a new receptionist/production assistant; I interviewed and got the position.
I quickly discovered that the world of daytime TV production wasn’t my jam—the hours alone left me feeling like a zombie, I just didn’t have the stamina for it. It was along this time that DoctorOz.com was launching. As the receptionist, I had tons of down time and I would basically harass the web manager with copious offers to help out his team. I offered myself up as a writer but said I would do anything, and eventually I was working as his executive assistant while I was still throwing down 60 hours a week as a PA. After 6 months, I was moved to full-time digital coordinator. A year later I was promoted to an associate producer and the year after that I was promoted to a producer role. I was lucky to have gotten in right as the site and show launched; as the team grew my institutional knowledge gave me lots of opportunities for growth.
When you started your job, did you already know a lot about working on a website and did you have any programming/coding skills?
HA! Nope. All of my background was in television production and I knew absolutely nothing. I brought my writing skills to the table and coasted on those while I learned. My company was generous enough to purchase classes for me on Lynda.com, where I took online tutorials to learn Photoshop, Dreamweaver and general HTML. Luckily, there are tons of resources available for someone starting at square one—so I popped on my student hat, got over the embarrassment of being a newbie and asked my team members TONS of questions. Years later, I can Photoshop your Facebook default pic like a pro J.
What does a digital producer do? And what does your typical day look like?I’m sure it differs from site to site, but I am responsible for all homepage copy. I map out our daily programming (what’s featured on the homepage) and write the best blurb to feature the article or video. It’s all about piquing interest and getting people to click. I also watch the show each day and write all of the text descriptions for the videos.
My other main job is to coordinate with the show staff to make sure the producers include digital components in their scripts. We want the show to mention www.DoctorOz.com as much as organically possible and it’s my team’s job to make sure the show knows everything we can offer to support their segments. We want a viewer to feel compelled to find more information online—and then once they get to the site, we want them to stay there.