Disney taps radio executive to lead ABC Family
Walt Disney Co. made its own format change Monday, naming Michael Riley, the general manager of Radio Disney, as the new president of the ABC Family channel.
Riley, who joined Disney two years ago from Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting, will be in charge of programming, marketing and advertising sales for the channel that has become a darling within Disney's television portfolio. ABC Family has made dramatic ratings gains in recent years with original programming that resonates with young adults including "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," "Pretty Little Liars" and "Melissa & Joey."
Riley, a 40-year-old native of British Columbia, Canada, will have big shoes to fill. He is succeeding Paul Lee, who had run ABC Family since 2004 and was promoted last month to the more high-profile job of entertainment president of the ABC broadcast network after Stephen McPherson abruptly resigned.
"I am extremely proud to have been part of a great team at Radio Disney and very much look forward to joining the incredibly passionate and inventive team at ABC Family," Riley said in a statement. Disney declined to make Riley available for interviews.
Most of Riley's media experience was overseas and not necessarily in programming, which means he could have a learning curve in his new gig. At Turner, he held several prominent positions in its European, African and Middle Eastern operations, but his duties were more focused on marketing strategy and business development.
The company said it would name a new Radio Disney head "in the near future."
-- Meg James
Photo: Michael Riley; Credit: Craig Sjodin / ABC Walt Disney Co.