A Tour Inside the Iconic NBCUniversal Page Program
“There are only two things I love in this world: everybody, and television.” –Kenneth Ellen Parcell, 30 Rock
November 15, 2023
It’s one of the most unique and sought-after entry level jobs in media. The iconic NBCUniversal Page Program is a thrilling year-long launchpad for individuals looking to start a career in the industry. A rotational learning and development program, it gives pages unmatched and well-rounded exposure to media and entertainment.
During their time in the program, pages rotate through three full-time assignments from across the spectrum of NBCUniversal businesses and productions. At the same time, they serve as Ambassadors of the Page Program, guiding studio tours, recruiting and ushering live studio audiences and more. A year of total immersion in all aspects of the business leaves pages well-prepared for early-career, entry-level roles in the industry.
The NBCUniversal Page Program is committed to fostering a community that is rooted in inclusion, where all pages feel they can succeed and belong. One of the best parts of being an NBCUniversal page is the unique community, and bonds that endure long after hanging up the navy blazer. What happens when pages leave the program, the company or even the industry? Launched alongside the celebration of the Page Program’s 90th anniversary, all former and current pages have access to a vast network of program alumni through the NBCU Page Alumni Network, reconnecting with old friends and networking with new ones while sharing career opportunities and advice. Once a page, always a page.
The NBCUniversal Page Program is one of the most immersive learning systems of its kind, as well as one of the most enduring. Founded nearly a century ago, the program’s longevity is just one sign of its effectiveness.
Happy 90th Birthday, NBCUniversal Pages!
The year 2023 marks a very special 90th anniversary. Exactly nine decades ago in 1933, the NBC Page Program was born. We’d like to thank all of our current and former pages for their tireless can-do attitude, and to congratulate them on this incredible milestone. Since its founding, the program has been launching careers in media and entertainment. Today, former pages work at all levels throughout NBCUniversal as well as out in the wider entertainment industry, including many spectacular successes and quite a few household names like Regis Philbin, Aubrey Plaza, Kate Jackson, Michael Eisner, Ted Koppel and many more.
Many changes have come and gone over those years. Black and white television, compact disc players, moon landings, hairdos we’ll pretend never happened. Bell bottom jeans came into style, then went out of style, then came back in again, but through it all the page program has been steady like a rock. So congratulations, pages, and here's to another 90 years of “welcome to NBC, right this way please”!
What is an NBC Page anyway?
Many have heard of NBC pages, but few realize how involved the role really is. During their yearlong tour of duty, pages rotate through three different assignments in roughly 18-week shifts. They can be embedded anywhere within NBCUniversal, taking on roles in marketing, business, production and development, analytics or digital. One month they might find themselves supporting a high energy ad sales group, and next month they might be working the floor on Saturday Night Live. Next rotation could see them assisting with theme park operations in Universal City at Universal Studios Hollywood. Other specific brands that pages are a part of include Peacock, TODAY, MSNBC, WNBC, Bravo, E!, CNBC, Focus Features, NBC News, Syfy and USA.
Pages learn by doing and shoulder the same responsibilities as any other junior employee, all while giving tours, recruiting live audiences from the sidewalks of New York, and answering plenty of audience questions along the way. Pages spend each week learning on-the-job and putting on a show for 240,000 visitors a year. As you can see, there’s a lot more than meets the eye going on behind that sunny smile and lapel pin.
A page out of history
Let’s rewind a bit. There have been pages as long as there has been an NBC, but in the earliest years, when the network was located at 711 Fifth Avenue in New York, recording and broadcasting studios were not built to accommodate large live audiences or public tours.
Radio was king in the 1930s, and in that bygone era pages studied public speaking, elocution and foreign languages as part of their preparation for a career in broadcasting.
That all changed in 1933, when NBC moved to the then brand-new Rockefeller Center. Studios were built with live audiences in mind, and the building itself was such a marvel that it had guided tours. Guides were a new type of employee. Articulate and adept at entertaining tour groups, guides had a certain polish and panache.
NBC executives assumed that public interest in the studios and in Rock Center itself would soon wane. But, by 1937, network headquarters had become the most popular tourist destination in New York City. With 562,596 visitors that year, an average of 1,540 a day, Radio City was second only to Mount Vernon in annual visitors, and NBC pages played a key role in its burgeoning appeal. Then as now, pages were expected to be much more than tour guides. The intent of the program was to give recent graduates the ultimate entrée to the world of entertainment and mass media.
Hollywood wasn’t far behind, and the West Coast Page program rolled out shortly thereafter. Pages in LA soon learned the ropes of entertainment, which had begun to surge in popularity as movie theaters opened across the country, with NBC newsreels opening many of the feature films. Television wasn’t far behind the movies, and NBC Studios in Burbank soon became a popular destination in its own right.
During World War Two, New York and Los Angeles went dark. The bright lights of Times Square and Hollywood Boulevard were dimmed to avoid highlighting ships at sea, and Southern California drivers had to extinguish their headlights. The war impacted all industries in the country, and broadcasting was no exception. Staffed primarily by young men, the page program was among the first to be impacted as pages left to join the armed forces. Like many other wartime industries, NBC turned to women to meet its staffing shortages, and so the first class of “pagettes” and “guidettes” matriculated in September 1943.
Scrolling ahead to the 1950s, radio, television and movies underwent enormous changes, and NBC pages evolved to become expert aides in live television studios. The network continued adapting to, and in some cases adapting ahead of the times. In 1954 Gene Whitlock became the first Black NBC page, serving a tour of duty on the TODAY show alongside the morning program’s first Black stage manager, Fred Lights.
We can thank Johnny Carson for making NBC pages famous. Ever the gracious host and with an appreciation for undiscovered talent, Carson featured Tonight Show pages on air several times over his long tenure, even incorporating them into bits like “Stump the Band.” And just like that, the network page became part of pop culture. David Letterman followed suit, frequently conscripting the Late Night pages into hilarious on-air stunts. The hosts’ and celebrity guests’ affection for their pages was obvious, and contagious.
Then of course there’s Kenneth. The lovably odd, irrepressibly cheerful page played to perfection by Jack McBrayer on 30 Rock has given the NBC page a lasting place in pop culture.
Who can become an NBC page?
The short answer is: anyone with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. The NBCUniversal Page Program welcomes all qualified applicants, striving to make the roster of pages as diverse and inclusive as NBCUniversal viewers and visitors around the world.
The Page Program conducts virtual interviews to enable access to applicants wherever they may be, and it offers relocation assistance to those living far from the broadcast centers. When it comes to inclusiveness, distance is no object.
The Page Program hires three times a year, in January, May and September.
Interested in wearing the navy blazer?
If you are a college graduate dreaming of a media career, we encourage you to apply to the NBCUniversal Page Program. For application details and timelines, follow the program on Instagram, or check out the NBCUniversal Careers Site.