An NBC page is a person usually in his or her early twenties working in various departments of the NBC television network during a one-year period as a training ground for careers in television broadcasting and entertainment. In addition, pages work as tour guides and studio audience ushers at NBC Radio City Studios in New York City or NBC Universal studios in Burbank, California.
NBC began the page program in 1933 at its Rockefeller Center headquarters, later expanding it to their west coast studios in Burbank. The Page Program is the longest running franchise under NBC. In the 1950s, NBC also offered page positions at their owned-and-operated stations, such as WRC in Washington, D.C. where Today Show personality Willard Scott was an NBC page.
Selection is highly competitive, with only 212 pages selected a year out of over 16,000 applicants. Past pages describe the interview process as grueling, as the network seeks the best corporate image to present to the public. In addition to requiring candidates to be college graduates, NBC says it prefers those with "related broadcast experience such as a college campus radio station, demonstrated leadership, strong work ethic, and outgoing personality".
Pages regularly get to work on such programs as The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live. Pages also rotate through assignments in public relations (PR), marketing, development, and production in a variety of shows and special projects. Most pages go on to careers with NBC or other broadcast media and a number have become celebrities or leaders of the industry in their own right.
Notable NBC page alumni
Notable former NBC pages include:
- Comedian and songwriter Steve Allen
- Weather forecaster Tex Antoine
- TV Producer and personality Chuck Barris
- Director and producer James W. "Jim" Case
- Producer/writer and NYC television host Clay Cole
- Self-Help Author and former award-winning comedian Alan Roger Currie
- Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner
- Today Show host Dave Garroway
- Former NBC's TODAY Show correspondent Sara Haines
- Actress Kate Jackson
- Captain Kangaroo Bob Keeshan
- Television personality Stu Kerr
- ABC-TV newsman Ted Koppel
- Actor and singer Gordon MacRae
- Whitest Kids U Know comedian Trevor Moore
- Today Show executive producer Don Nash
- Associate Director of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart Paul Pennolino
- TV personality Regis Philbin
- Actress and comedian Aubrey Plaza (who appeared as a page in an episode of 30 Rock)
- Game show host Gene Rayburn
- Comedian Joan Rivers
- Actress, Writer, and Comedian Rebecca Merle
- Actress Eva Marie Saint
- Today personality Willard Scott
- Current TV host Michael Shure.
- ABC Good Morning America host Lara Spencer
- TV personality Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
- Actor Bruce Willis
- Game show host Bill Leyden
- All-Star Britt Terrell
The highly competitive application process requires several steps. Applicants must first submit an application, resume, and cover letter to the NBCUniversal career site. Following the online submission, Page Program coordinators review materials and select individuals to move on to the phone screen. In the phone screen stage, Page Program coordinators conduct an individual interview that examines an applicant's relevant skills, leadership experience, and knowledge of NBCUniversal. Candidates applying for the East Coast Page Program who make it through the phone interview are then invited to a group interview at NBC's offices at Rockefeller Center. Group interviews typically have six applicants applying with two or three interviewers. The group interview is three parts: a group portion where all applicants are asked the same questions, an individual interview with the two or three NBCUniversal interviewers, and a presentation portion where applicants must present to the NBCUniversal interviewers and fellow applicants.
The NBCUniversal Page Program accepts around 1.5 percent of applicants, making it more selective than Harvard admissions. Of the roughly 16,000 individuals who apply for the program each year, around 212 are invited to participate in the program.
In popular culture
In the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, produced by former Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey, Jack McBrayer portrays a zealous, smiling, do-good NBC page named Kenneth Parcell, who appears as a page through the show's seven seasons despite pages usually only being employed for a year. And while pages are usually in their twenties, it is a running joke on the show that Kenneth is unrealistically old (indeed, that he is immortal) based on his looks. (For example, in Season 5's "When it Rains, it Pours", Kenneth is seen nostalgically packing away a signed photograph of Fred Allen from 1947, dedicated: "Kenneth, you're the TOPS!" into a box marked "NBC Memories 1945-1967".)
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- Needleman, Sarah E. (2009-09-29). "Lara Spencer and ‘The Insider’". The Wall Street Journal (New York: Dow Jones). ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Buckley, Cara (2008-10-14). "For NBC Pages, ‘Please Follow Me' Is a Fervent Wish". The New York Times.
- Johnson, Jenna (2011-05-12). "Life of an NBC page isn't quite like ‘30 Rock'". The Washington Post.