On August 30th, Linda Kahn died at 72 in New York due to complications from metastatic breast cancer. She worked for four decades in children’s television as an executive at Nickelodeon, MTV Networks, and Scholastic Media.
The early years
Born in Chicago on Sept. 15, 1948, Kahn majored in English at Washington University in St. Louis in 1970. After graduating, she moved to Boston, where she worked as a junior high school English teacher in Watertown, MA for seven years and a half. She started taking media workshops for teachers and, finally, earned a Master’s degree in Educational Media and Technology from Boston University.
As she recounted in a 2010 interview for New York Women in Film & Television (NYWIFT), “At the end of the 1970s, the government gave money for projects to make kids become more critical viewers.” So, in those years, she moved to Chicago to work as Director of Curriculum Development for Prime Time School TV, a non-profit education organization, which took evening TV shows on network and PBS to compile teacher’s guides to mail all over the country. Her job was to create curriculum introducing the use of evening television programs to teach students in grades 7 – 12 economics, law-related education, and TV news.
From 1983 until 1995, Kahn worked as senior executive position at Nickelodeon and MTV Networks. She was appointed vice-president of acquisitions at Nickelodeon and was instrumental in the launch of Nick at Nite. She was also senior vice-president of international program sales. Kahn built Nickelodeon’s television syndication and format sales all over the world introducing original series such as Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, and Doug to the global children’s TV market. She worked with networks around the world to customize Nickelodeon game show formats to local markets.
From 1995 to 2008, she was senior vice-president of international TV sales and merchandising at Scholastic Media. She led international consumer products and promotional activities for WordGirl, Maya and Miguel, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Horrible Histories, Stellaluna, The Magic School Bus, Animorphs and Goosebumps. Kahn also spearheaded the branding/distribution of Scholastic’s Video Collection and created a video line based on its Weston Woods Library of best-selling picture books.
From 2003 to 2005, Kahn served as board president of New York Women in Film & Television, but, in 2008, she decided to launch her own enterprise, a global consulting firm, called Linda Kahn Media (LKM). LKM aimed at forging business and creative partnerships in all aspects of children’s media as well as entertainment for general audiences.
Kahn also served as board co-president of the Greater NYC Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure from 2007 to 09 and was a Komen NYC board member from 2003 to 10 and a BAFTA NY board member from 2003 to 2010.
The Linda Kahn Afterschool Fund
Since 2010, she worked as director of programming at Bridge Multimedia. Her work had a huge impact on making educational children’s TV programming and gaming accessible to visually impaired and disabled students through The New York Institute for Special Education.
In fact, the New York Institute for Special Education has set up a Linda Kahn Afterschool Fund in her memory to further the education of students with disabilities. People can contribute to the fund here.
Linda Kahn leaves her sister Beth Malichi and husband Christopher Gordon, who she married almost 30 years ago.