In Depth

Women in Television: Cyma Zarghami

Who: Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon and the MTV Networks Kids & Family Group

Women in TV

Why: Nickelodeon has had a banner 2008. “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Naked Brothers Band” remained popular and the network found new hits in the interactive “iCarly” and Amy Poehler’s animated “Mighty B,” helping it re-establish a strong lead in kid demographics over Disney Channel. At Nick at Nite, the addition of “George Lopez” contributed to double-digit increases. Says Ms. Zarghami: “We’re having the perfect storm of programming for different demographics and genres.”

Ms. Zarghami, who has been with Nickelodeon for 24 of the network’s nearly 30 years, often notes that Nickelodeon’s first viewers now are producing the first generation of Nick families, and she is, accordingly, making programs that families can watch together. One is Nick at Nite’s animated “Glenn Martin, D.D.S.” for next fall, from Michael Eisner. “That was a highlight for me,” she says of working with the former Disney chief. Other new content partners include Sony Music and DreamWorks Animation.

What: Off-air, Nickelodeon opened its first theme park in the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis. And with Nick’s move into the family vacation business, Ms. Zarghami took her first cruise, bundling her husband, three boys (ages 12, 6 and 2) and parents onto Royal Caribbean’s sold-out inaugural Nick-themed trip. With strict instructions to the boys not to reveal their mom’s job, she got a close-up view of 4,000 Nickelodeon fans. And, she jokes, “I truly learned how to be a valet to my own kids.”