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Released December 17, 2005

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - Hollywood media executive and Emmy Award winner Margaret Loesch's message for graduates of The University of Southern Mississippi Friday was straight and to the point.

"You can do it, too," said Loesch, a Southern Miss graduate who has made her mark in the media and entertainment industries, including as founder of the Fox Kids Network and the Hallmark Channel. "There are some steps that I have found that have led me to success, and hopefully my insight will provide some guidance and hope to (graduates)."

Loesch left to find work in Hollywood after graduating from Southern Miss, beginning her television career in the film department of ABC in 1971. She then joined NBC as director of children's programs from1975-1979. Despite her success, she never thought she would be in Hollywood for very long.

"I've been in Hollywood for 33 years, which is still a surprise to me," she said. "I thought I'd stay a couple of years. I'm still there, but still think of myself as a Mississippian, and that's why I'm so happy to be back."

Loesch credited Southern Miss with providing her with a broad education. A political science major, Loesch said her academic experience at the university taught her how to "ask the right questions" and gave her a "real work ethic."

Credited with coining the term "the coarsening of America," Loesch said she's aware of the impact her industry has on America's youth, and said her concern has motivated her to make a difference through child and family entertainment.

"I've been a critic of some of things that are on the air after 8 p.m., and I'm not happy with some the language and subject matter (that kids are seeing)" she said. "Kids are imitators, they imitate what we as parents do and they also learn and get a lot of information from the media.

"We're constantly being bombarded with negative messages, and so what I'd like to do is fill our entertainment with positive messages, and some of my colleagues are doing the same thing."

Loesch was founding president and CEO of Fox Kids Network, serving in that capacity from 1990-1997. She built Fox Kids into the No. 1 children's television service in the country, and launched Fox Kids in Australia, Latin America and the United Kingdom. Prior to her tenure with Fox Kids, she was president and CEO of Marvel Productions, the film entertainment subsidiary of Marvel Comics, from 1984-1990, and executive vice president of Hanna-Barbera Productions, where she supervised the development of more than 30 television series.

From 1998-2001, Loesch was founding president and CEO of Crown Media United States and its U.S. Hallmark Channel, and also worldwide president of the Jim Henson Television Group. In 1998, she took over the rebuilding task of managing the Odyssey Channel, which was purchased by the Jim Henson Company and Hallmark Entertainment in late 1998, and was credited with reviving the channel and providing the framework and secure foundation for the channel's successor, the Hallmark Channel, which Loesch launched in August 2001. In 2003, she co-founded The Hatchery, a company formed to build intellectual properties in the family and children's entertainment industry.

Matt Lantrip, a senior photojournalism major from Brandon, was looking forward to Loesch's speech and beginning his pursuit for work after receiving his degree on Friday. "It's real competitive (in the field of photojournalism), but I feel confident that I'll land a job," he said.


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January 19, 2005 3:36 PM