WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A lot of folks move to our area to retire and then end up giving back in major ways to the community. Our Extraordinary Person of the Week is a textbook example. The Food Network? HGTV? Judy Girard knows them well, as we explain in Part 1 of the ‘GLOWing Journey of Judy’.
We find a retired Judy Girard at GLOW Academy in Wilmington where girls are empowered with opportunity. It’s something Judy knows a lot about as her career launched in the 70’s.
“The woman’s movement was at it’s height,” Girard said of her quick growth into management positions in television, “and there was a lot of pressure for TV stations to put women in top 4 management categories.”
Girard has worked in various TV stations in the biggest cities in the country. Philadelphia, New York City, and Los Angeles to name a few. She did so until cable television came calling.
“The reason I switched to cable,” she said, “is cable was young and new and networks were new and they were taking a lot of chances putting women (in charge of) running them”
It was at the Lifetime channel where the documentary of her college roommate would be groundbreaking for the network.
“We did an intimate portrait after the move of the real Jessica Savitch,” Girard said, “and to this day, those 3 hours are the highest rated ever in the history of Lifetime and that put the network on a path of producing original movies and intimate portraits.”
More adventures would lead to her stepping outside her comfort zone for a bit.
She lived with the Dalai Lama for a month.
She climbed Mt. Kilamanjaro.
Next thing you know, she becomes president of a struggling Food Network that she would help become a massive success. “Food Network ended up being the most fun job I ever did,” she said.
The talent she worked with was much different than the talent of a typical broadcast news station.
Bam! Soon after getting the gig at the Food Network, celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse would recommend she go talk to Julia Child, a master of cooking.
“She(Child) said you’ve got someone right under your nose you can start with,” Girard said of her short meeting. “That’s Emeril, he has the ability to entertain and use food as the language and I went back to him and said you want to try this, he said give me a studio and band.”
And off they went to create a network that evolved around Lagasse.
She would also end up president of HGTV until retiring in 2008 and moving to New Hanover County.
It’s an extraordinary career and a story that isn’t over, as we’ll explain in Part 2 of the ‘GLOWing Journey of Judy’ to air 9/21/2016 on WWAY Newschannel 3 at 11:00.