Longtime network executive Ed Hardy has announced plans to retire as president of Great American Country network at the end of 2012. He has served in the position since Scripps Networks Interactive acquired GAC in 2004.
Veteran television programmer Sarah Trahern will succeed Hardy and lead GAC as senior vice president and general manager.
Kenneth W. Lowe, president, chairman and chief executive officer of Scripps Networks Interactive, credited Hardy with successfully directing the integration of GAC into the Scripps portfolio, guiding the network’s growth and steering GAC’s evolution into a country music lifestyle brand. “Ed Hardy assembled an incredibly gifted team and established GAC as the leader in country music entertainment,” said Lowe. “Under Ed’s leadership, GAC has expanded its distribution and grown its revenue. He’s led the way to GAC’s emergence as a credible force in a competitive media environment.”
Hardy also championed GAC’s community outreach initiatives. This includes a partnership with the W.O. Smith School for underprivileged youth, and fundraising efforts following Hurricane Katrina and the Nashville floods. The network also supported the establishment of the Music City Walk of Fame.
“I am so proud of the GAC team and all we have accomplished in the last eight years,” said Hardy. “With few exceptions, I have spent most of the last 44 years involved in the media industry. Now, it’s time to take a break and do some things I have always wanted to do with my wife and partner, Kim. I won’t call it a ‘bucket list,’ but there is a list.”
Hardy will continue his involvement in the Nashville community as incoming chair of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau and president-elect of the Country Music Association.
Hardy rejoined Scripps after a distinguished career as general manager of radio stations in Louisville, Denver, and the Scripps-owned radio properties in Portland, Ore.
Hardy spent much of the mid-1990s as a chief executive, building Deschutes River Broadcasting from a single AM/FM radio combination in Tri-Cities, Wash., to a collection of 19 stations in markets throughout the Pacific Northwest. With the subsequent merger of Deschutes with Citadel Broadcasting, as president of Citadel’s West Division, Hardy played a key role in the company’s growth to more than 200 stations in more than 40 markets.
Hardy served as president and CEO of MeasureCast, a leading Internet-streaming broadcast audience measurement company. He also served as a consultant to MediaBlue/Nox Solutions, the top provider of website design, hosting and fulfilling products for nationally syndicated and network radio talk show hosts including Bill O’Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Mike Gallagher and others.