CMO, Boingo Wireless
Callahan and the Boingo marketing team took home two prestigious honors in the 2016 Cablefax Faxies Awards—Marketing Team of the Year and Best Campaign on a Shoestring Budget. As if that isn’t enough, this WiFi marketing pioneer and her team are on track to extend Boingo Broadband to more than 60 military bases and 300,000-plus potential customers. Callahan is also focused on launching the technology internationally, including in Okinawa, Japan. “As someone who spent 10 years at Time Warner Cable earlier in my career, it is surreal to see TWC be acquired by Charter,” she says. “This news was a huge story both for the industry and for me personally.”
What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE 13?!? (Deep breath. I still have PTSD from 13.) First off, Dawn, yes, it’s going to be weird growing 8 inches in one year. Take comfort in the knowledge that one day J. Crew will start making “Tall” jeans and it’ll all be okay. Until then, may I suggest a lot of pedal pushers?
I realize you think you’re the world’s biggest nerd. But there’s something to be said for the smart girls who sit in the front row. I don’t want to spoil the plot, but it turns out nerds run the world. Embrace it and get your geek on. But here’s the real kicker: Are you listening? Here goes:
I know you feel terrified and small and weird and alone a lot of the time. The big secret is that EVERYONE feels that way. We all run around feeling terrified and small and weird and alone. And it mostly never goes away. But it gets easier, because the older you get, you realize that we’re ALL dealing with this sh*t. And when you realize that, you start to feel a little less terrified, a little less small and a lot less alone. You’ll still be weird. But that’s okay. Because one day that weirdness is what’ll make you one of the Most Powerful Women In Cable.
So hang in there. Find your tribe of nerds. And buy stock in J. Crew.
Which current programming best reflects the kind of women’s roles you like to see and why?
While Hollywood is still run primarily by white dudes, an argument can be made that there’s never been a better time for women and people of color in television. Showrunners like Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal”), Jill Soloway (“Transparent”), and Jenji Kohan (“Orange Is the New Black”), are at the forefront of creating amazing, female-driven content. In addition to these shows, I’m a huge fan of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” (which set up a “blind” process for hiring writers that resulted in a writing staff that is approximately half female and 30 percent non-white). I am crazy for the writing/performance of Rachel Bloom and the cast of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” I think “Grace & Frankie,” which features performances by two national treasures (Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) is spectacular at tackling issues we rarely see on TV (aging, regret, reinvention, assisted suicide). “Girls,” “Veep,” “Broad City,” anything Sheila Nevins at HBO touches, as well as anything Amy Schumer are also on my list.
What’s been the biggest story in cable this year?
As someone who spent 10 years at Time Warner Cable earlier in my career, it is surreal to see TWC be acquired by Charter. This news was a huge story both for the industry and for me personally. But given my role at Boingo, which is a bit of an outlier in this space, one story I’m following is a bit of an outlier, too: Google Fiber’s acquisition of Webpass. Webpass provides wireless point-to-point high-speed Internet access (the same technology Boingo uses for its high-speed residential Wi-Fi product on military bases). If successful at scale, this technology could have significant impact for operators to deliver cable access without trenching, significantly reducing capital. When I describe to folks what we do at military bases, I often say, “Boingo is a cable operator without the cables.” It presents lots of opportunities for new competition.