Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Lisa Ammerman (C’92), Founding Partner at Treefort Media

Since 2018, Lisa Ammerman has served as an executive producer on all series at audio-first studio Treefort Media, while also working with the company’s growing team to bring new podcasts to market. Partners including: Audible, Wondery, Universal Music Group, Disney, Village Roadshow and iHeart Media. She spent more than 20 years in television, more recently as Vice President of Talent Booking at CBS Entertainment and as a producer on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

What was your first “big break”? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

My first day as receptionist/PA at Bill Moyers’ production company, I was asked to build 50 research binders for a talk series. Each needed to be customized. The assignment came midday and binders had to go out the next morning. The task took about 15 hours. I didn’t know if I should reveal that it took me ALL night, but fearing the kind security guard who checked on me might tell the producer… I did. She then told the entire office. As I sat at reception that day, everyone stopped by to share similar stories. The best came from Moyers himself, who told me that one weekend he hand-addressed 100,000 postcards for his former boss, President Lyndon B. Johnson. That experience showed me how successful producers work as a team — and strive to be mentors to those just starting out.

What is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding part?

The most challenging part of my current job is time management. With nearly 20 active projects happening, prioritizing workflow, deadlines and support for all of those on my team can feel daunting. I strive to make sure all departments feel heard as we cycle through all phases of production – and that is actually one of the most rewarding parts of the job. I love working across all of those departments from development to casting to production to post to marketing/launch.

What is something current you are working on that you are excited about?

My company is working on a variety of scripted audio dramas that we developed in-house, including a gritty crime drama called FISHPRIEST, starring Ethan Hawke, that will be available on Audible later this year. In the unscripted space, we have an investigative docuseries launching in February, entitled COLLAPSE: Disaster in Surfside, about one of the worst building failures in U.S. history.

Are there any ways that you feel Georgetown especially prepared you for your career?

I majored in History at GU, but I chose classes that combined my love of that subject with literature and film. I read classics that I may not have otherwise. Also, living and studying in such close proximity to global newsmakers made that world tangible to me – and I went on to work in hard news and documentaries before moving into late night comedy.

What is your best advice to those who are starting out in your field?

I love this question and, honestly, find it hard to focus on one answer so I will list a few: Take notes. Listen and observe. Never assume – ask questions. Learn from mistakes (which inevitably happen)

How is the ever-changing media landscape affecting your industry?

As a journalist and producer, I’ve worked across different mediums: TV, radio, print and digital. I’ve worked primarily in podcasting since 2018. As more people embrace on-demand audio, some of the exclusive content is finding a loyal audience as a podcast first before being re-discovered by new audiences in TV, film and live events. Seeing that transition from niche audiences to wider consumption is very exciting.

Best Business Advice Received:

The best business advice I’ve received is to “read the room.” To do that well, you need to truly listen and observe, look at your audience as you pitch. Pivot if you sense anything other than their full attention on what your project is. The best way to ensure you can do this is to prepare well.

Trait You Most Admire in People:

A great sense of humor.

Favorite App, Website, Podcast or Social Platform (other than related to your own company):

I have listened to most episodes of CONAN NEEDS A FRIEND.

Favorite Georgetown Professor:

The late Rabbi Harold White whose theology classes were very lively.

Favorite Georgetown Restaurant or Bar:

Booeymonger – so fun to give them wild, fake names to call out when your sandwich was ready… and The Tomb’s.

Favorite Georgetown Memory:

Any late-night conversation with my roommates at 3621 S Street!