NU alumnus, CBS executive discusses career in TV industry


Brian Meng/The Daily Northwestern

Rob Luchow (Weinberg ‘05) speaks in Pancoe Life Sciences Pavilion about his career in the TV industry. Luchow advised students to have confidence in their opinions and develop their interpersonal skills.

Keerti Gopal, Reporter

Rob Luchow (Weinberg ’05) said he wanted to be a high school history teacher until he started booking bands for Dillo Day his senior year at Northwestern.

Luchow, now vice president of drama development at CBS TV Studios, returned to his alma mater Thursday for the first event of the Master of Science in Leadership for Creative Enterprises’ monthly speaker series. Addressing about 60 people in the Pancoe Life Sciences Pavilion, Luchow advised students interested in the entertainment industry to be confident in their own tastes.

“It’s really important to have a sense of what it is that you like about television shows in your heart, and what you respond to,” Luchow said. “And then really understand your people skills and your problem-solving skills.”

Shortly after graduating in 2005, Luchow moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television. At Thursday’s event, he emphasized the importance of utilizing connections, citing his first job at a small LA agency that he got through two NU alumni he met his senior year.

The prevalence of personal relationships and connections in the entertainment industry was a recurring theme in Luchow’s talk, and one that stuck with Communication freshman Matthew Threadgill.

“It was different than I thought it would be,” Threadgill said. “He got to where he was basically through connections. It was really interesting to me how he emphasized interpersonal skills.”

After one year at the LA agency, Luchow moved into development at the Mark Gordon Company, producer of TV shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Criminal Minds.” There, he said he found he preferred the development side of production.

Luchow worked in network television at Disney before moving to CBS, where he works today. At CBS, Luchow said he fields ideas and determines whether projects should be assigned to CBS or sold to another company like ABC or Netflix.

Haley Baker (Communication ’17), an MSLCE student, said she hopes to go into TV production and was inspired by Luchow’s talk. She said his point about TV’s massive reach was particularly poignant.

“Even though my tastes are different,” Baker said, “there are still so many people who are still watching the same shows that have been airing for decades.”

Luchow said he is cognizant of the size of the CBS platform, especially after last year’s election, when it became clear that some Americans felt overlooked.

The CBS executive also stressed the power of TV to change minds. Luchow cited “Modern Family” as an example of how TV helped many Americans confront their prejudices in the comfort of their homes.

“If I can do my job right,” Luchow said, “I can hopefully help effect that change, while still being highly entertaining.”

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