One of the first cable operators in the country, 2005 Cable Hall of Fame
One of the things that got me interested in going into cable TV in a large way, was the crowd that gathered in front of my store... in 1948. When I first put those three channels on, the street was completely blocked with viewers, people watching the pictures in the window.
John Walson, Sr., was one of the first cable operators in the nation. Mr. Walson was born in Forrest City, Pennsylvania on March 25, 1915. After graduating from Mahanoy Township High School in Pennsylvania, he went to Chicago and entered Loyola University with the intention of becoming a physician. Some time after entering the University, he rekindled his adolescent interest with electricity. Coyne Electrical School was nearby and before long he became an engineering student and abandoned his projected medical education.
His love of electronics led him to obtain a General Electric franchise in 1945, selling appliances in Mahanoy. Around the year 1947, Mr. Walson began selling television sets. It was very difficult, or impossible, to receive the three Philadelphia network stations in Mahanoy City because the town is surrounded by mountains and is located some 86 air miles away. Because of this situation, Mr. Walson erected an antenna tower on top of a nearby mountain so he could take his customers to that location and demonstrate his television receivers. In searching for ways to increase his sales in 1947, Mr. Walson decided to purchase some heavy duty twin-lead army surplus wire, and ran the wire on trees from a nearby mountain to his appliance warehouse. Eventually, the line was extended to Mr. Walson's appliance store, and several homes along the way were connected to the community antenna system.
In addition to starting the nation's first community antenna television system in Mahanoy City , Mr. Walson can also claim several other pioneering firsts, including a five channel system using adjacent channels, importation of distant signals using microwave technology, and use of coaxial cable. In the spring of 1979, the 96th Congress of the United States and the National Cable Television Association recognized John Walson as the founder of the cable television industry.
During the last 40 years of his life, Mr. Walson served as a director of the National Cable Television Association, the Pennsylvania Cable Television Association, and numerous other civic organizations. In 1993, he was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. Mr. Walson passed away on March 28, 1993.
Former president-CEO, Daniels & Associates, 2005 Cable Hall of Fame
...but I start to look around, to do some brainstorming and see this thing called cable television... I said, 'Here's a reasonably new industry'... we decided that we had a business and it was worth continuing.
John V. Saeman, Jr., was born August 29, 1936, in Madison, WI, and raised in nearby farming community of Cross Plains. His dad and brother were involved with the Saeman Lumber Company which had been started by Saeman's grandfather in 1876 and remains a family business today. While his journeys have taken him far from home, Saeman has remained true to the rock-solid American values he learned in his youth.
After graduating from Loras College in Dubuque, IA, Saeman served in the United States Marine Corps. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he was introduced to the world of telecommunications when he took a sales position with Subscription Television (STV), a joint venture between the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation and Lear Siegler. STV was the nation's first provider of Pay per View programming over co-axial cable. This 3 channel system featuring movies, sports and cultural programs operated in Southern and Northern California. In 1965, he moved to Denver and began his association with Bill Daniels. In 1972, he was named president of the brokerage division and in 1974, president and CEO of all Daniels companies.
In his early years with Daniels & Associates, Saeman worked in all facets of the company with system operating responsibilities in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State. Saeman also brokered cable systems to the Times Mirror Company, King Broadcasting, the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Tribune Corp., and many others.
His key merger while in California was his marriage to his wife Carolyn, who for more than 40 years has been his best friend and partner. They have three children: John, Craig and Catherine, and are devoted to their 14 grandchildren. In 1988, John and Carol founded Medallion Enterprises, LLC, an investment and management company located in Denver.
Saeman is a member of the Cable TV Pioneers and served as chairman of the National Cable Television Association from 1982-83 and as chairman of CSPAN from 1981-82. He has received numerous awards, including the NCTA Distinguished Vanguard Award in 1985, the Golden Cable ACE Award in 1992 and is honored to be inducted in the Cable Television Hall of Fame. Pope John Paul II named him a "Knight of St. Gregory," a rare honor conferred for distinguished service to the religious and social mission of the Catholic Church around the world.
With their business association successfully concluded, Saeman's friendship with Bill Daniels deepened. The two shared much in common: patriotism, service in the military, a business ethic shaped by strong values and hard work, a concern for others reflected in personal philanthropy, and a stubborn unwillingness to compromise.
Bill Daniels spent the final years of his life carefully defining his goals in the articles of incorporation of the foundation that would bear his name. When he died in 2000, his $1 billion estate transferred to the Daniels Fund, which operates the Daniels Scholarship Program and the Daniels Fund Grants Program in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
Saeman serves as chairman of the board of the Daniels Fund, and is dedicated to honoring Daniels's intent and personal style of giving. In a few short years, the Fund has made an extraordinary difference in the lives of countless individuals.
Saeman and Daniels shared a deep friendship with Msgr. C.B. Woodrich (Father Woody), known as the "Patron Saint of Denver's Homeless." As a group, they led the effort to build Samaritan House, which provides shelter, food, medical and job services to homeless individuals and families.
Through the Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust, John and Carol support tuition assistance for low-income parents of all faiths seeking to give their children the benefit of a Catholic education, and through the Life Education Fund and other pro-life efforts, they provide alternatives to women in crisis pregnancies seeking to keep their babies. As the chairman of the development committee of the Papal Foundation, Saeman helps support charitable and educational efforts in some of the world's poorest nations.
Recognized as one of Colorado's business leaders, Saeman is dedicated to his faith, his family and to helping those in need.
Founder, ATC Corp, 2005 Cable Hall of Fame
...we had an opportunity to be a leader in it, and that this was something I had kind of done before, I had been trained to do and that I'd love to do again. So I concocted the idea of forming American Television and Communications Corp...
Monroe M. Rifkin is Chairman and CEO of Rifkin & Associates, Inc., an investment and management company he formed in 1982 to facilitate his entrepreneurial activities. Areas of activity include medical technology, real estate development, banking and, of course, cable television, with system ownership both domestically and abroad. The MSO he formed grew to a peak of 550,000 subscribers in 1999, at which time the major portion of the systems were sold to Paul Allen's Charter Communications.
Mr. Rifkin was introduced to the cable television industry in 1959 while he was Executive Vice President of TelePrompTer Corporation. Bill Daniels had just started his cable brokerage operation in Denver and met with Mr. Rifkin in New York. That meeting resulted in TelePrompTer buying its initial three cable TV systems which Mr.Rifkin aggressively added to through a series of acquisitions.
In 1963 Bill Daniels recruited Mr. Rifkin to Denver where he headed up the management and syndication activities of Daniels & Associates. That led to his becoming the founder and CEO of American Television and Communications Corporation, which he brought public in 1969. He served as its CEO from inception to 1982 and as its Chairman from 1974 to 1982.
American Television and Communications Corporation merged into Time Inc. in 1979 and it became the nucleus of what is now known as Time Warner Cable.
Mr. Rifkin served as a Board member of the National Cable Television Association from 1968 to 1984 and as its Chairman from 1983 to 1984. He is also a member of the Cable Television Pioneers.
In the field of real estate, Rifkin & Associates developed or purchased ownership interests in nearly 1,000,000 square feet of office, industrial, residential and retail properties. Further, it has two pending development projects which total an additional 300,000 square feet.
Mr. Rifkin, who holds a Certified Public Accountant certificate from the State of New York, graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. He has served on several bank and hospital boards and is currently on the Board of the Annenberg Center, a non-profit devoted to the field of continuing medical education.
Founder, Chairman and CEO, Jones Intercable Inc., 2005 Cable Hall of Fame
I prepared everything because I was my own account lawyer... so he signed that, and he gave me his account book which was a half-size, three-hole notebook with... the pages falling out of it... It was really a snowy day, and I was so happy I was yodeling... because now I was in the cable business.
Glenn R. Jones has spent four decades extending the reach of technology, first by bringing cable television to American homes, then by fusing education with the Internet to deliver education to lifelong learners worldwide. Along the way, Mr. Jones pioneered Internet technologies, authored several books, and created more than 20 technology companies in the Internet, e-commerce, software, education, entertainment, radio, and cable television industries.
In 1961, after graduating from the University of Colorado's School of Law, Mr. Jones began his career in cable television by representing cable companies in their acquisition efforts across the country. In 1967, Mr. Jones borrowed $400 against his Volkswagen to purchase his first cable system in Georgetown, Colorado, which was the genesis of his cable operations company, Jones Intercable, Inc.
During its 32 years under Mr. Jones' guidance, Jones Intercable pioneered more than a dozen industry firsts and grew to become one of the ten largest cable television operators in the United States serving more than 1.5 million customers nationwide. In addition, the company built and operated cable systems in the U.K. and Spain.
In 1987, Mr. Jones embarked on his first adventure in distance education and founded the cable network Mind Extension University (ME/U). Until the early 1990s, when it changed its name to Knowledge TV, ME/U delivered college courses to viewers' television sets, offering them easy access to distance learning programs. The advancement of Internet technology resulted in the creation of online education entities in the 1990s, most notably, Jones International University (JIU), a university existing completely in cyberspace, which he founded in 1995. In another Jones first, JIU was the first totally online university in the U.S. to receive accreditation.
Mr. Jones is one of the founding members of the James Madison National Council – a select advisory body to the Library of Congress – and serves on its steering committee. He is also on the board of trustees for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and the Voice Center Advisory Board associated with it. He is a past member of the board of directors for the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), and also served on its executive committee. Additionally, he served on the boards of C-SPAN, The Cable Center, the National Alliance of Business (NAB), the Colorado Institute of Technology (CIT), and the Board of Governors for the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). He also served on the Colorado Governor's Commission on Science and Technology.
Former CEO, HBO, 2005 Cable Hall of Fame
I was anxious to be, if you will, on the front lines a little bit more and HBO seemed like a promising, if not struggling situation, and there was something about it... there was something about HBO that really caught my fancy, that maybe there was an opportunity here to define what it would be.
Michael Fuchs was named chairman and chief executive officer of HBO in October of 1984. He joined HBO in 1976 with the assignment to develop its original cable programming, the first of such programming for the fledgling cable industry. Under his leadership, HBO became the largest and most successful pay-television company in the world. HBO International, developed under Mr. Fuchs, has interests in HBO services throughout the world, including Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Mr. Fuchs pioneered HBO's original programming, which was the first original programming on cable. This original fare transformed HBO from primarily a cablecaster of movies after their theatrical release, to a network noted for the breadth and quality of its original programming.
In May of 1995, Mr. Fuchs added the chairmanship of the Warner Music Group to his portfolio, becoming responsible for the overall management of HBO and Warner Music Group for the world's leading entertainment conglomerate, Time Warner, Inc. Mr. Fuchs left Time Warner in November 1995 and has been an active investor and consultant, primarily in the media area, since then.
Mr. Fuchs has received many honors, including induction into the Broadcasting & Cable Magazine Hall of Fame (1994), The National Academy of Cable Programming Governors Award (1994), The Milton Petrie Award from The National Victim Center (1992), The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Distinguished Service Award (1989), The National Alzheimer's Association Rita Hayworth Award (1989), The National Cable Television Association's Vanguard Award for Programming Excellence (1988), The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Humanitarian Award (1996), Union College's Nott Medal for Distinguished Alumni (1995), and the People For the American Way's Spirit of Liberty Award (1996).
Mr. Fuchs came to HBO in 1976 following an 18-month association with the New York office of the William Morris Agency. Previously, he worked as a specialist in entertainment law, serving as an associate with two New York City law firms.
Mr. Fuchs holds a B.A. degree in political science from Union College in Schenectady, New York and earned a J.D. from New York University Law School.
A native New Yorker, he resides in Manhattan and has two children.
Co-president and Co-Chief Operating Office, Viacom, 2005 Cable Hall of Fame
...when you find something that you really like you sort of stay with it, and this has been great because the job has changed every few years because the industry has been so dynamic. All of the sudden we're in international business, online business, new channels come our way or we buy them or launch them...
Tom Freston was named Co-President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of Viacom in June 2004. Previous to his appointment at Viacom, Mr. Freston served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MTV Networks, a position he held since 1987. With Mr. Freston as CEO, MTV Networks grew to reach over 400 million households in 164 countries and 18 languages through 96 channels worldwide.
Mr. Freston's leadership produced many commercial and critical successes for MTV Networks, including: Nick Jr's "Blue's Clues," and "Dora the Explorer;" Nickelodeon's "Rugrats" and "SpongeBob SquarePants;" MTV's Emmy-winning "The Osbournes," and "The Real World;" Comedy Central's "Chappelle's Show" and the Emmy-winning series "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"; VH1's "Behind the Music," Driven" and "I Love the 80s;" "Crossroads" and the "Flameworthy Video Music Awards" at CMT; "Joe Schmo" at SpikeTV, and TV Land and Nick at Nite's domination in the classic TV arena.
Mr. Freston joined Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company (WASEC), the predecessor to MTV Networks, in 1980. A year later, he was one of the founding members of the team that launched MTV: Music Television. As the head of marketing, Mr. Freston oversaw the breakthrough "I Want My MTV" campaign for the channel. He held a succession of positions at MTV Networks, culminating in his appointment in 1987 as CEO.
Prior to joining MTV, Mr. Freston established a textile and clothing business in New Delhi that he ran for eight years. He began his career in advertising after earning his B.A. from St. Michael's College and an M.B.A. from New York University.
Mr. Freston is on the board of the Museum of Natural History. He has served as Chairman at numerous organizations including Louis Vuitton United Cancer Front; the Actors Fund; Oceana; Natural Resources Defense Council; City of Hope and Phoenix House.
He is the recipient of several prestigious honors, among them, the Governor's Award from the National Academy of Cable Programming, MIPCOM's Personality of the Year, The Cable Television Public Affairs Association's President Award and the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the T.J. Martell Foundation.
President & CEO Emeritus, A & E TV Network, 2005 Cable Hall of Fame
If you look at the (cable) industry, it's everything from home shopping over here to the printed word over here, and I think it's only limited by the imagination of the people that work in the industry.
Nick Davatzes was named Chief Executive Officer Emeritus of A&E Television Networks (AETN) in April 2005. Previously, Mr. Davatzes was President and Chief Executive Officer of AETN from December 1983 to April 2005, encompassing A&E Network, The History Channel®, The Biography Channel®, History InternationalTM, The Military History ChannelTM,The History Channel en españolTM, Crime & Investigation NetworkTM, AETN International and AETN Consumer Products. In November 2006, President George W. Bush presented Davatzes with the National Humanities Medal in recognition of his contributions to the humanities. In July 2006 he was inducted into the Phi Kappa Tau Hall of Fame. In October 2005, the Cable Center inducted Mr. Davatzes into the Cable Television Hall of Fame Class of 2005 honoring his significant contributions to the cable telecommunications industry. In June 2003, Davatzes received the 2003 Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership from the National Cable Television Association and in December 2003 celebrated his 20-year anniversary at the helm of the company. During his tenure at AETN, Davatzes has been honored by his industry peers for building some of the most prominent and highly valued cable networks and for his strong support of the cable industry's public-policy and public-affairs objectives.
In February 1984, Davatzes' guidance and leadership launched A&E Network, which is now available in more than 90 million Nielsen homes in the United States. A&E Network brings viewers the Art of Entertainment through a unique combination of three genres - The Art of Biography, The Art of Documentary, and The Art of Drama. A brand synonymous with excellence in television, A&E Network offers a diverse mix of programming ranging from critically acclaimed original series and movies, to innovative documentaries - to the Emmy Award-winning BIOGRAPHY® series - to dramatic specials, feature film presentations, and contemporary performances. In 2004, under Davatzes stewardship, A&E Network experienced double digit growth in it's target demographics adults 25-54 and was honored with the most Primetime Emmy nominations (24) for a basic cable network.
In January 1995, Davatzes founded The History Channel®, which now boasts more than 140 million subscribers worldwide, with 88 million Nielsen subscribers in the United States. The History Channel®, devoted to fulfilling America's passion for history, was honored in 1998 with two George Foster Peabody Awards, and received the 1999 Governors Award from The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's Save Our History® campaign. In 2004, The History Channel® had unprecedented double-digit growth in a key demographic men 25-54 and was honored with 5 News and Documentary Emmy Awards and 11 nominations, the most for any basic cable network.
In 1996, Davatzes developed AETN International, which markets the quality programming and proven success of The History Channel®, A&E Network® and The Biography Channel® globally. Through innovative local partnerships and affiliations, AETN International has expanded the presence of AETN channels and branded blocks around the world. With offices in New York and London, AETN International licenses AETN channels and sells its' branded program catalog to international broadcasters. AETN channels and programs are now available in more than 145 countries to over 230 million TV households.
In 1998, Davatzes created AETN Consumer Products, which develops brand extensions for Biography®, The History Channel®, and A&E Network. The division is comprised of the A&E Home Video label, the Direct to Consumer E-commerce unit and Licensing group, which together make up a portfolio of products and services that include DVD and Video, the E-store (ShopAETV.com), and The History Channel Club, as well as licensed products in publishing, games, music and other categories.
In 2004, Davatzes spearheaded the launch of History Channel en españolTM and The Military History ChannelTM, A&E Television Networks' newest channels. History Channel en españolTM features Spanish language programming that focus on Latino heritage and achievements as well as the Spanish language versions of signature series from The History Channel®. The Military History ChannelTM programming is dedicated exclusively to the vast array of military history.
In January 2005, Davatzes and his international team reached an agreement with FOXTEL, Australia's leading subscription television provider, to launch the Crime & Investigation NetworkTM in Australia. Crime & Investigation NetworkTM is the ultimate destination for viewers looking to unearth the real story behind the headlines of today and yesterday. Crime & Investigation NetworkTM opens the door to crime labs, police archives and courtrooms, providing a behind-the-scenes look at criminal investigations, probing unexplained mysteries and examining the lives of infamous murderers and outlaws.
Before joining A&E Network in December 1983, Davatzes was Senior Vice President, Group Executive, for Warner Amex Cable Communications, Inc., where he was responsible for four Qube Cable operating companies. He joined Warner Amex in 1980 as Senior Vice President, Administration & Human Resources. In 1981, he was promoted to Group Executive. Prior to joining Warner Amex, Mr. Davatzes was President of Intext Communications Systems, a diversified information services, publishing and technical training organization, where he served from 1978 until 1980. From 1965 to 1977, Davatzes was with The Xerox Corporation in various executive positions at the corporate and field operating levels and was promoted to Vice President of Sales and Marketing in 1975 for the Learning System Division.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Davatzes is the recipient of the Marine Corps Historical Foundation Heritage Award for his support to the foundation. In June 2002, A&E Television Networks received the prestigious Global Television Outstanding Achievement Award from the Banff Television Foundation during the 23rd annual Banff Television Festival. In December 2000, Davatzes and The History Channel® were honored by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation with the "Lone Sailor" Award. In March 2000, the American Hellenic Institute honored Mr. Davatzes with The Hellenic Heritage Achievement Award during their annual National Public Services Awards ceremony. In November 1999, Mr. Davatzes was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and, in 1998; the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America, honored him with the Good Scout Award. Davatzes was honored in 1996 by the Cable Television Public Affairs Association (CTPAA) with its annual President's Award. In 1995, he received a "Salute to Freedom" award on behalf of The History Channel® from the USS Intrepid Foundation and, in 1994; Davatzes received the Vanguard Award for Programming from the National Cable Television Association (NCTA). In 1989, Davatzes was awarded the "Chevalier des Arts et Lettres" by the French Government in recognition of the relationship between A&E and the French television industry.
Davatzes is a member of the Board of Trustees, St. John's University. He served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, NCTA from 1993 to 2006 He is a past member of The International Council of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Davatzes was a member of the Board for Cable In The Classroom from 1989 to 2006. Mr. Davatzes received a B.A. in 1962 and an M.A. in 1964 from St. John's University. He did postgraduate studies at New York University. In 1995 Mr. Davatzes received an honorary doctorate from St John's University. Mr. Davatzes and his wife live in Connecticut. They have two sons.