Billboard's 2011 Women In Music Honorees
Billboard's 2011 Women In Music Honorees

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No. 10
Melissa Lonner

NBC News senior entertainment producer, NBCUniversal
Twitter: @Studio1AMelissa

After six-plus years as the music maven at NBC's "Today," Melissa Lonner still gets a rush when she talks about booking acts that hit the sweet spot between the anticipated and the unexpected for the morning show's daily audience of 6 million. For Lonner, the senior entertainment producer for NBC News, the past year's high points include Adele, Coldplay, Pitbull and-her personal favorite-the return of Chris Brown. Brown's appearance attracted more than 18,000 fans to the "Today" stage in New York's Rockefeller Plaza, and NBC hosted 15,000 fans for Justin Bieber's Nov. 23 appearance. Lonner is keenly aware that exposure on "Today" can boost-and even break-a band. Morning shows are network news divisions' biggest money-makers, and "Today" has remained No. 1 in its time slot for the key 25-54 demographic for 862 weeks (that's 16-plus years) and running, NBC says. Due in part to its music bookings, this year the show is up over 2010 in both ratings and viewers, NBC reports. Although Guns N' Roses and the Who top Lonner's wish list, she gets most jazzed about discovering new talent. "That's what I love best. Going to a show at a small venue-like when I first saw Adele at Joe's Pub-and saying, 'Holy moly, I've got to get them.'" Lonner is also excited to take the show's summer concert series abroad when "Today" heads to London to cover the Summer Olympics.

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