2014 Honorees

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David R. Van Valkenburg

Former CEO/COO , TeleWest PLC (UK), 2014 Cable Hall of Fame

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David R. VanValkenburg was introduced to the Cable Telecommunications Industry in 1969, while a financial analyst at Investors Diversified Services (IDS).  During his career in the Cable Telecommunications Industry he has participated in its dramatic programming and technological transformation.  In 1973 with American Television and Communications Corporation, he started as manager of a cable system in which vacuum tubes were the primary source of transmission and carried twelve (12) channels of off-air television stations.  

Over the next twenty-one (21) years, David served as an executive with seven (7) USA MSOs. He concluded his executive career in 1999 as CEO/COO of Telewest PLC (UK) offering the triple play of residential video, internet, and telephony, and commercial data and telephony services.  He led Telewest from near bankruptcy to being listed among UK’s FTSE 100 companies.  Since retiring from senior executive roles, he has shared his management expertise with corporate executives through serving on 16 companies’ Boards of Directors.

David is the eldest of seven sons raised on a family dairy farm. He attended a one room, primary school for nine (9) years, obtained an M.A. in Radiation Biophysics (Kansas) and an MBA (Harvard).

David has served on the Boards of Directors of the NCTA, The Cable Center, CTAM, Cable in the Classroom, Cable Advertising Bureau, and Kaitz Foundation, the Boards of Trustees of two (2) private colleges, and has been a Presbyterian Elder for over 35 years.

Doris and David, who will celebrate their 50th Wedding anniversary in June 2014, have two children and five grandchildren.

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Daniel L. Ritchie

Chairman/CEO, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 2014 Cable Hall of Fame

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In January 2007, Daniel L. Ritchie became Chairman and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.  He was Chairman of the Board of the University of Denver from 2005 to 2007 where he served as the 16th Chancellor for 16 years from 1989 to 2005. Ritchie's involvement with the University of Denver began in 1983 when he became a trustee. He served as vice chairman of the board and chaired the development committee before becoming Chancellor.  In his 24 years of involvement with DU, the school steadily gained stature and strengthened academic programs.

Ritchie was CEO of Westinghouse Broadcasting for eight years before moving to Colorado in 1987. The move to Colorado capped a career of nearly 30 years spent in executive positions with MCA, Inc. and Westinghouse.

Ritchie currently serves as President of the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation, which focuses on early childhood education and development, and has served as Chairman of the Board of the Daniels Fund, which supports programs that encourage personal responsibility and achievement by funding college scholarships and community programs.  

Some of Ritchie’s awards include: The Citizen of the West Award given by the National Western Stock Show to an individual who exemplifies the spirit and determination of the Western pioneer; the National Samaritan Institute Award; the Gold Medal Award of the Poor Richard Club; Outstanding Philanthropist at National Philanthropy Day; the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee; a Laureate member of the Colorado Business Hall of Fame and the Ethical Leadership Award from the University of Denver.

He holds both undergraduate and MBA degrees from Harvard.

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Jerald L. Kent

Chairman & CEO, Suddenlink Communications, 2014 Cable Hall of Fame

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 Jerry Kent is a serial entrepreneur and trailblazer who believes customer service is the key to his outstanding track record of delivering superior returns for investors.

In 2002, he co-founded Cequel III, a telecommunications company.  As CEO, he has built several successful businesses, including Suddenlink, the seventh largest U.S. cable company.  

Jerry began his career with Arthur Andersen in 1979.  In 1983, he left to join Cencom, where he later became CFO. Cencom grew to 550,000 customers before being sold in 1991. After serving a year with Cencom's acquirer, Jerry co-founded Charter in 1993. Charter served over 1 million customers in 1998, when it was acquired by Paul Allen.  Under Jerry’s leadership, Charter grew to serve 7 million customers, consistently generated industry-leading operating results, and executed in Nov. 1999 what was then the third-largest IPO in U.S. history. Charter’s was the best performing public cable stock from the IPO until the month Jerry left in Sept. 2001.

Jerry serves on the boards and executive committees of CableLabs and the NCTA. He is chairman of CablePAC and the Cable Center board and serves on the C-SPAN board. In 2011, he was named Multichannel News’ Executive of the Year. In 2012, he was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, received the cable industry’s Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership, and was chosen Person of the Year by CED Magazine.

Jerry is also very active in the St. Louis community, serving on several boards, including Washington University, his alma mater; the St. Louis Children’s Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, and REJIS.

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Fred Dressler (deceased)

Executive Vice President, Programming, Time Warner Cable, 2014 Cable Hall of Fame

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In 2007, the cable industry lost one of its leading programming pioneers when Fred Dressler, who after 30 years had retired from Time Warner Cable the previous year as executive vice president of programming, succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Dressler joined ATC in 1976 from a Denver broadcast television station at the urging of company co-founder and industry legend Bill Daniels. He started out managing cable systems for ATC, then moved to company headquarters in Denver, where he made a name for himself in programming.

Dressler was known as a tough negotiator and consistent critic of rising programming costs, especially in sports programming. He also championed unique content and niche programming during the 20 years he headed TWC’s programming operations. He was a founder of E! Entertainment, Sun Sports Network in Florida, SportsNet New York, and the In-Demand Network. In addition, Dressler constantly advocated new ways of delivering video content to consumers and prompted Time Warner Cable to speed its introduction of video on demand, DVRs and high-definition programming.

“Fred’s reputation as a fierce negotiation was always tempered by his humor or sense of fairness,” CEO Glenn Britt said in a note to employees following news of Dressler’s death.  “His legacy will be felt for many years, not just in our programming department, but through-out our organization.”

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Christiane Amanpour

Chief International Correspondent and Anchor, CNN, 2014 Cable Hall of Fame

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Christiane Amanpour is host of AMANPOUR and chief international correspondent for CNN International as well as the global affairs anchor at ABC News.  Her illustrious career in journalism spans three decades.  When she became an international correspondent for CNN in 1990, her first major assignment was covering the Gulf War.  She has since reported from the world’s major hotspots, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Somalia, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Asia, Rwanda, the Balkans, and the U.S. during Hurricane Katrina.  She has interviewed most of the top world leaders over the past two decades, including securing the only interview with Hosni Mubarak and an exclusive with Muammar Ghadafi during the Arab Spring.

Amanpour has received every major broadcast award, including an inaugural Television Academy Award, eleven News and Documentary Emmys, four George Foster Peabody Awards, and nine honorary degrees.  She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and an Honorary Citizen of Sarajevo.  Amanpour is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island.

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Alex Best

Executive Vice President, Engineering (Retired) , Cox Communications, Inc., 2014 Cable Hall of Fame

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Alex Best has been associated with the cable industry for close to 50 years. Alex presently serves on the board of the Arris Group, Inc.

Prior to joining the Arris board, Alex served as Executive Vice President of Engineering for Cox Communications Inc. During his 15 years with Cox, Alex was responsible for network and technology strategy, network monitoring, product evaluation, and purchasing. Under his technical leadership, the company launched high speed internet service in 1996 and digital video service in 1997.  Alex was also instrumental in launching cable telephony in 1997, making Cox the first cable company to enter the residential telephone business. As a result, Cox was first to offer the “triple play bundle” of video, voice, and data over a broadband network.

Alex’s career in the cable industry began when he joined Scientific Atlanta as a design engineer in 1966.  His first design was a solid state headend channel processor, the first such device in the industry that did not use vacuum tubes.  A complete line of headend products followed, and in 1975, Alex was promoted to engineering manager. When he left to join Cox in 1986, he held the position of Principal Engineer.

Alex received the Vanguard Award for Development in 1977 and was inducted into the Cable Television Pioneers in 1991. In 1992, he was selected by the Southern Cable Television Association to receive the Polly Dunn Award and in 2001, the President’s Award.  In 1994, he was inducted into the SCTE’s Hall of Fame. CED Magazine recognized Alex as “Man of the Year” in 1998.

Alex attended Augusta State University and later the Georgia Institute of Technology where he received a Bachelor’s degree in 1964 and a Masters in 1966, both in Electrical Engineering.  In 1980 he attended the PMD program at Harvard.

Alex and his wife, Joyce, have two sons, Bryant and Michael, a daughter-in-law, Jan, and two granddaughters, Rachel and Laura.