It’s showtime in a bright studio at ABC—the music pulsing, the audience cheering, the stars taking their places on the set—and David Sloan is in a familiar spot. He’s standing in the back, behind the cameras and the crowd, arms crossed, quietly watching it all unfold.

“It’s time for The View, America,” the announcer declares, and another live broadcast of the popular morning talk show is under way.

For 35 years, Sloan NCAS’76 has been standing behind the blare and the glare, shaping what you see on ABC as a producer for Good Morning America, Primetime, and 20/20, where he has been the executive producer since 2000. Last October, he took on an additional assignment, as one of the senior ABC News executives advising The View after the departure of its founder, Barbara Walters. “It’s a show in transition—from Barbara to the next thing,” Sloan says. “It’s this critically important interregnum to find its footing, and that’s what I’m helping the show to do.”

He spent the morning before the 11 a.m. airtime dashing through the labyrinthine corridors and stairwells at ABC’s sprawling broadcast center just off Central Park West in New York City, going over the list of hot topics the hosts would discuss on air; trimming a few seconds from the “cold open,” the brief video segment that introduces the show; and having an impromptu hallway conference with Whoopi Goldberg, the show’s moderator. Now he watches from the back of the studio as the cohosts riff about the day’s big story, the copycat lawsuit over the Robin Thicke song “Blurred Lines,” and then quietly slips out during the first commercial break.

Barbara Walters


Barbara Walters and David Sloan first worked together in 1994, when he produced her profile of entertainment mogul David Geffen. He became a senior producer and then executive producer at 20/20, producing Walters and Diane Sawyer news specials. He has won six Emmy Awards and three Peabodys.

“I haven’t started my day job yet,” he says as he makes his way back through the corridors he has navigated for decades, greeting by name almost everyone he passes, returning to the 12th-floor corner office from which he runs 20/20. “This is the quieter world. I’m really a storyteller, and this is much more what I love to do.”

Parked on the window ledge in his office is a model train engine, an O-gauge Lionel Santa Fe that his father gave him when he was 5. Sloan grew up in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, the son of a roofer and a waitress, enamored of trains and television, and a fan of the woman whose photo hangs on the wall, one of the series of 20/20 hosts he has worked with: Barbara Walters.

“I used to watch her on The Today Show when I was a boy, and I always wanted to work for her and produce her,” he says, citing an early self-help book she wrote, How to Talk With Practically Anybody About Practically Anything (Doubleday, 1970). “I wanted to be that person. I wanted to be able to go up to a complete stranger and talk to them about anything, and  journalism for me was a way to become the kind of person I wanted to be.”

He was not that kind of person as a boy. “I was painfully shy,” he says. “I could barely speak.” It was at Rutgers University–Newark, he says, that “I found my voice, really.”

To save money, he lived at home and commuted all four years, and he worked on the student newspaper, the Observer. “That’s where I got the hang of it and  I realized, ‘Ah, this is why I was born,’” he says. “I really loved interviewing people. From someone who used to hate talking, I grew to love talking and asking questions. I realized I was always a curious person; I just couldn’t always get the questions out.

Journalism students at Rutgers–Newark now are the beneficiaries of two gifts in recent years from Sloan: a digital journalism lab and a new classroom-newsroom.

He interned at the Star-Ledger while he was a student, and worked there as a general assignment reporter after he grad­uated. He also taught English composition classes at Rutgers–Newark and earned a master’s degree in journalism from New York University. “I loved the byline, I loved authorship and ownership, and then I got into something that is completely the opposite of  it, which is all collaborative and  where you get your name on nothing.”

The call that started his TV career came in 1980 from a Rutgers classmate, Susan Somers Kozinski NCAS’76, who was working as a researcher for ABC’s Good Morning America, where there was an opening. “It paid 50 bucks a day, which I thought was fantastic,” he says. “And I came and I never left. No one has careers like this anymore. It’s a freelance economy now and no one stays in one place.”

From researcher, he rose to associate producer, then producer, then coordinating producer. “It was a place where you could grow and get promoted and not be worried that you’re gay,” says Sloan, who lives with his partner of 22 years in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. “I covered inaugurations and elections and conventions and royal weddings. I was no longer ambulance chasing like I was at the Ledger. I was put onto this bigger platform where you got to do bigger and better things, not the town meetings in Maplewood, New Jersey. I’d pinch myself. I really was amazed. It exceeded my expectations.”

Whoopi Goldberg


Whoopi Goldberg, a longtime presence on The View, is the show’s moderator. As one of the senior ABC News executives, Sloan took on the added assignment last fall of helping out on the program following the departure of its founder, Barbara Walters. “It’s a show in transition—from Barbara to the next thing,” Sloan says.

But he’s always been behind the scenes, never on camera. “That would have been hard for me; I’m not that kind of person. Being not shy and being on air are two different things. It requires a special spark,” he says. “And with few exceptions, you make most of the important decisions off air.”

He moved to 20/20 in 1989, producing stories for consumer reporter John Stossel. “I really wanted to produce something for Barbara,” he says. “I had seen her around, but hadn’t worked with her yet.”

He finally got his chance in 1994, producing Walters’s profile of entertainment mogul David Geffen. “My other love is Diane Sawyer and I  finally got to her a little later,” he says. He became a senior producer and then executive producer overseeing a staff of 60 at 20/20 while also producing all of the Walters and Diane Sawyer news specials. He has won six Emmy Awards and three Peabodys.

One of the four televisions in Sloan’s office is showing the closing segment of The View, which is still broadcasting live from the studio at the other end of the building, but  his mind has already turned toward tomorrow night’s 20/20. “It’s news- reactive when it needs to be, but that’s tricky with a one-day-a-week program,” he says. Sometimes, though, the news and the show’s schedule match up in unforgettable ways, as they did when the Boston Marathon bomber was captured during airtime. “To see things play out on your air in real time—it doesn’t get better than that in news coverage.”

A key interview for Friday night’s show has been postponed until next week, so Sloan has to meet with his producers to see what other stories are ready to air in its place. “It’s a scramble now,” he says. The taping of the anchor introductions is just over 24 hours away. “We stitch the show together Friday afternoon, and we’re usually on tape unless it’s a breaking story.”

And, if all goes well, he’ll be watching from his preferred spot. “So Friday, hopefully, I am home eating some takeout and watching,” he says. “It doesn’t actually exist for me unless I see it in my own living room.” •