Here at News Five, we don’t normal cover ourselves, but tonight we have some big news to share with our viewers. You may be aware that Channel Five’s C.E.O. Amalia Mai recently took up a post as C.E.O. in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. What you may not know is that today she handed over the reins of the company to our new C.E.O.…drum roll, please: Marleni Cuellar. It was a bittersweet morning for us here at the station at the close of one chapter, but beginning of another. Tonight, News Five’s other personnel change, the new – or should we say returning – news director, Karla Heusner, takes a look at Mai’s accomplishments over the last thirteen years and finds out what Marleni has planned for the station now that she will be transitioning from in front of the camera to full time Chief Executive Officer.
Karla Heusner, Reporting
Amalia Mai took over as C.E.O. in 2008, when the Managing Director Stewart Krohn retired. She made her mark on the station through new programming like the magazine-style television morning show: “Open Your Eyes” and expanding the entertainment line up to include dance competitions, various versions of the KTV including the Latino version for Spanish speaking and bilingual viewers. Under Mai’s watch, Channel Five also saw new shows such as “Great Belize Cooking,” “The Belize Apprentice,” and the popular “From Yes to I Do.” Mai says it was critical to not only maintain the station’s award winning standards and continue serving on the Caribbean Broadcasting Union board, but for Channel Five to become even more competitive internationally.
Amalia Mai, Outgoing C.E.O., Great Belize Production/Channel 5 News
“We broke all the ceilings. We shattered all the glasses together so that is a great satisfaction. Regionally wise winning all the awards, beating companies with huge investments like in Jamaica, in Trinidad. Huge populations, like in Cuba. Smaller populations, the size of Belize in the Caribbean, but we were always on top. Every August my greatest pleasure was going to the CBU meeting. And then there were awards in between, you know that were not necessarily in the region. But certain, Channel Five and the staff here have always stood out.”
There were difficult times too, like when Mai led the company through the two week ban on all government advertising and access to government officials imposed on Channel Five in 2010. More recently, COVID-19 and the accompanying decrease in advertising and increase in restrictions on usual news covering have been challenging, even though no staff had to be terminated. But COVID did force a realization about the future direction of the station.”
“COVID has taught us that traditional broadcast journalism is no longer the same. We have had to look at other areas where we can still continue the work, streaming services for example, digital. That is the way forward now.”
Today she thanked the Channel Five staff for their support and the Board of Directors too.
“I had the greatest opportunity to work with a wonderful board of directions. We were in sync. I want to pay tribute to them because aside from the work that our staff put in, there was always that other level of management. It made my life easier. Really nice people to work with. What I have learned, I take with me now.”
Incoming C.E.O. Marleni Cuellar has been a very public face for the station, but she has also been active behind the scenes as a key part of the management team for almost a decade. This award winning broadcaster is a natural choice to lead the company.
“I first joined Channel Five in 2006, so I actually started under the first manager, Stewart Krohn. Channel Five will be approaching its thirtieth anniversary this year. That means I will have been here for just about half of it. And I am most excited to be able to move this television station into what is the new era. The way we communicate, and the way we get our information has changed dramatically. And we are starting to see our viewers and people who follow our programs demand that more and more. It’s ensuring that we still reach our viewers, our audience that are reliant on traditional broadcasting, but also ensuring that we are prepared for the next phase that we know is to come.”
For News Five, I am Karla Heusner.
Viewers may see less and less of Marleni on air in the coming days, as she transitions to her C.E.O. role. The staff of Channel Five would like to publically thank Amalia Mai for her long service to the station and our viewers and welcome Marleni Cuellar at the helm.