• Amy C. Tykeson

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Amy C. Tykeson

    President, CEO & Chairman, BendBroadband, 2013 Cable Hall of Fame

    tykesonAmy

    Through investments in technology, organizational development and branding Tykeson and her team continue to advance BendBroadband's position as the local company to root for. Well known in the industry as an early adopter, BendBroadband has a long list technical first's including the 1997 launch of high speed internet, the 2008 conversion to all-digital and the 2011 roll out of LTE 4G wireless broadband over licensed spectrum to rural areas. In 2011 the company opened the first colocation data center in the U.S. to receive the Uptime Institute's Tier III certification for design and construction. The facility is carbon neutral and LEED Gold certified. In 2009 the company rebranded itself to leverage on localism and rising customer trust. The comprehensive effort has successfully resonated with customers in the region and "We're the local dog. We better be good" campaigns have won awards.

    Tykeson is the 2007 recipient of the Distinguished Vanguard Award. She Chairs the Rural Systems and Small Operators' Committee as a member of the NCTA Board of Directors and serves on the Board of Directors for CableLabs and CSPAN. Tykeson was inducted into the Cable TV Pioneers in 2008. In addition, she is a Trustee of the Tykeson Family Charitable Trust and a board member of Economic Development for Central Oregon and Associated Oregon Industries. Amy was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Regional Solutions Committee to support job creation. She is a Vistage International member and is involved on numerous local committees and lobbying efforts. Past experience includes the Young Presidents Organization; Vice Chairman of the Catlin Gabel School Board of Trustees; University of Oregon Alumni Association Board; The Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees.

    Tykeson got her start in 1980 with Home Box Office, serving ultimately as VP of Area Marketing in New York. She was the 1986 President of Women in Cable & Telecommunications (WICT). She has earned the CTAM Mark Award, the WICT Accolades Award and the Wonder Woman Award. She was named Independent Cable Executive of the Year by Multichannel News in 2007 and CableFax Magazine in 2008. In 2010 Tykeson received the Edwin B. Parker Enduring Achievement Award at the Oregon Connections Telecommunications Conference.

  • Josh Sapan

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Josh Sapan

    President and CEO, AMC Networks, Inc. , 2013 Cable Hall of Fame

    josh sapan

    One of entertainment's premier innovators and a pioneer in the cable industry, Josh Sapan leads AMC Networks Inc., which owns and operates popular and award-winning brands: AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel, WE tv and IFC Films. Under his leadership for the past twenty-five years, AMC Networks is the fastest growing programming group in the country, and was the only programming group selected by Fast Company as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Film & TV in 2010.

    Among Sapan's many achievements was the evolution of AMC from a classic movie channel into one of today's leading entertainment destinations. With quality originals like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and favorite films from every genre and decade, AMC is known as home to the best stories on television. In 2011, the network made television history when it won the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row, as well as the Golden Globe® Award for Best Television Series - Drama for three consecutive years.

    Sapan broke new ground with the creation of IFC and WE tv. Launched in 1994 under Sapan's leadership, IFC is now a network targeted to the young male demographic, and has become known for scripted alternative comedies like Portlandia, and the Primetime Emmy® Award nominated docu-series, Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut).

    Sapan also directed the 1997 launch of WE tv, a rapidly growing women's network, with original programming that offers an unfiltered view of modern family life during relatable moments with unscripted series' like Bridezillas, Braxton Family Values and Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?.

    In 1997, Sapan spearheaded the creation of IFC Films, designed to bring the best specialty films to the largest possible audience. This division operates three leading U.S. film distribution labels; IFC Films: a distributor of talent-driven, independent film; IFC Midnight: a distributor of genre entertainment including horror, science-fiction, thrillers, erotic art house, action and more, and Sundance Selects: a distributor of prestige films that focuses on American independents, documentaries and world cinema. All three labels utilize a unique distribution model that makes independent genre films available to a national audience by releasing them in theaters as well as on cable's VOD platform. Notable IFC Films releases include: the Golden Globe®-winner Carlos, Oscar®-nominated films Pina, In the Loop, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Y Tu Mamá También and Transamerica, as well as the Cannes award-winning biopic Che, starring Benicio Del Toro. The division also operates the IFC Center, a state-of-the-art cinema that shows art-house films in the heart of New York's Greenwich Village.

    Sapan also spearheaded the development of the Bravo network. Launched in 1980, the network made arts and culture an essential part of the television landscape. Sapan's oversight of Bravo's growth included the creation of such notable programs as Inside the Actors Studio and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which resulted in its sale to NBC in 2002.

    Sapan, who was recognized by Fast Company in 2010 as one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business", serves on the board of The Cable Center, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) Educational Foundation, the International Radio and Television Society (IRTS) Foundation, the Museum of the Moving Image and the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) Foundation. Sapan was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's (NCTA) Vanguard Award for Programmers and Vanguard Award for Marketing, CTAM's Grand TAM Award and Chairman's Award, the Association of Cable Communicators' (ACC) President's Award, a PROMAX Brand Builder Award, the T. Howard Foundation's Executive Leadership Award, the Joel A. Berger Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS, and the Media Financial Management Association's Avatar Award.

    In addition, Sapan serves on the board of People for the American Way, WNYC Radio and The New School University. Sapan is the author of Cable TV, published by Random House, and is a published poet with his works appearing in more than twenty literary magazines.

  • Abbe Raven

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Abbe Raven

    President and CEO, A&E Television Networks, 2010 Cable Hall of Fame

    Abbe Raven

    Abbe Raven is President and Chief Executive Officer of A+E Networks (AETN), encompassing A+E Network®, HISTORY™, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network , BIO™, History International™, Lifetime Real Women, Military History Channel™, HISTORY en español™, Crime & Investigation Network™, Lifetime Digital, AETN International and AETN Consumer Products. AETN channels and branded programming reach more than 250 million households in over 140 countries. In March 2005 Ms. Raven became President and CEO of A&E Television Networks, which acquired the Lifetime brands in September 2009. During her tenure at AETN, Ms. Raven has been honored for building some of the most prominent and highly valued cable networks and for standing at the forefront of numerous industry-wide initiatives. Over the last eight years, she was named to The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Entertainment Power 100 list and Cable World's Top 50 Most Influential Women in Cable. She received the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership from the National Cable Television Association for her years of leadership in the cable industry in April 2005. In May of 2007, Ms. Raven received the prestigious Preserve America Presidential Award from First Lady Laura Bush at a White House ceremony for HISTORY's longstanding commitment to historic preservation. In October 2009, Ms. Raven was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.

    Prior to her current position, Ms. Raven was President of A&E Network, and before that Executive Vice President and General Manager, A+E Network and The Biography Channel. Ms. Raven spearheaded the revitalization of A&E, launching it back into a top ten network. Under her leadership, A&E Network created a new crop of buzz-worthy real-life programming, which led to double-digit growth in the network's target demographic, a reduction of the network's median age by almost 20 years, and a record 24 Emmy® nominations.

    Previous to A+E Network, Ms. Raven was Executive Vice President and General Manager, The History Channel. Under her direction, The History Channel grew into a leading cable network and won several prestigious awards, including an Emmy Award and two George Foster Peabody Awards for outstanding documentary programming. Ms Raven was the original architect of The History Channel's programming schedule.

    Ms. Raven serves on the Executive Committee of Board of Directors of the NCTA, the NAMIC Foundation and the CTAM Educational Foundation. She was recently appointed to the advisory board of Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. In 2007 Ms. Raven was selected as an honoree of Paley Center's "She Made It" in recognition of her leadership and achievements in the world of cable television. In 2005 she was elected a Director of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Ms. Raven is also Co-Chair of Cable in the Classroom.

  • Alan Gerry

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Alan Gerry - 2000 Cable Hall of Fame Honoree

    Founder and Chairman, Cablevision Industries, 2000 Cable Hall of Fame

    gerryAlan

    I am the luckiest guy in the world to have gotten into this (cable) industry at 21 years of age, grown with it and forged the friendships that I have. I cannot think of a better way for a young guy growing up in rural America to participate in the American dream.

    The son of a Liberty, NY frozen food distributor who had struggled to keep food on the family table during the Great Depression, Alan Gerry went straight into the Marine Corps from high school. He tried various jobs, studied television repair on the G.I. Bill, and then set up a two-man TV sales, installation and repair business in his hometown.

    Because reception was difficult in this mountainous summer resort area 90 miles northwest of Manhattan, Gerry installed antennas at high points around the county, with each providing TV reception for a cluster of 10-15 houses. When he met some people from Jerrold Electronics in 1955, he learned about community antenna television. In 1956, Alan Gerry persuaded seven business men in his Catskills community to invest in the local cable system that he wished to create.

    By the early 1970s, having bought out his original investors, Gerry's company had expanded into Pennsylvania and had a major franchise effort underway in Massachusetts. Then, to continue his expansion, in the late 1970s he obtained a $5.2-million loan from John Hancock Insurance. Into the mid-1980s, Gerry personally guaranteed all the company's loans. When Cablevision Industries (CVI) crossed the 100,000-sub mark, it financed further expansion by becoming one of the first small companies to access the high-yield ("junk") bond market.

    In the early 1980s, Gerry installed the East Coast's first high-powered microwave delivery system and then used it to form his first 100,000-sub cluster, by tying together his cable systems in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. More clusters followed. Gerry built systems in Florida, the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic States.

    Gerry was one of the first cable operators to deploy fiber optic cable. CVI bought a Canadian-owned cable system in Los Angeles' West San Fernando Valley with a poor reliability record, and in 1989 he converted it to fiber. In 1996, he sold CVI to Time Warner.

    Gerry's companies were known for their outstanding customer service, creative financing methods and extremely efficient operation. At the time of the merger, CVI was the largest privately held cable company in the country serving over 1.3 million subscribers in 18 states.

    Today, Gerry still lives in the same house where he first repaired TV sets (although it has been greatly expanded). He founded and serves as chairman and CEO of Granite Associates, L.P., a diversified investment company that is active in telephony and communications and has helped many startup Internet companies go public. To help stimulate the depressed economy of his home region, Gerry purchased and resurrected the original 1969 Woodstock Festival site and several hundred surrounding acres. He has attracted music festivals there and is hoping to draw global tourists by transforming the historic pasture into an arts and entertainment complex that will hopefully also serve as the summer home of the New York Philharmonic.

    Gerry is still active in many cable organizations, including CablePAC and The Entrepreneurs' Club. His $10- million donation to the National Cable Center in Denver helped spur $45 million in additional contributions from his fellow industry leaders. Gerry is a major contributor to educational and medical institutions in the communities he serves. He endowed a chair of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, established the Paul Gerry Dialysis Center in Sayre, Pa., put a wing on his local hospital and is involved in a program at Boston University to find a cure for amyloidosis.

    In 1995, Mr. Gerry was the recipient of the Vanguard Award, cable television's most prestigious honor for distinguished leadership. He was inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame in 2000. Mr. Gerry has also received the Entrepreneur-of-the-Year Award from the New England chapter of the Institute of American Entrepreneurs, the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America and the Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation League. He has received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Roger Williams University and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the State University of New York.

  • Alan Gerry : 2012 Ethics in Business Honoree

    Alan Gerry   2012 Ethics in Business Honoree

    Alan Gerry

    Founder and Chairman
    Cablevision Industries

    I am the luckiest guy in the world to have gotten into this (cable) industry at 21 years of age, grown with it and forged the friendships that I have. I cannot think of a better way for a young guy growing up in rural America to participate in the American dream.

    Alan Gerry

    The son of a Liberty, NY frozen food distributor who had struggled to keep food on the family table during the Great Depression, Alan Gerry went straight into the Marine Corps from high school. He tried various jobs, studied television repair on the G.I. Bill, and then set up a two-man TV sales, installation and repair business in his hometown.

    Because reception was difficult in this mountainous summer resort area 90 miles northwest of Manhattan, Gerry installed antennas at high points around the county, with each providing TV reception for a cluster of 10-15 houses. When he met some people from Jerrold Electronics in 1955, he learned about community antenna television. In 1956, Alan Gerry persuaded seven business men in his Catskills community to invest in the local cable system that he wished to create.

    By the early 1970s, having bought out his original investors, Gerry's company had expanded into Pennsylvania and had a major franchise effort underway in Massachusetts. Then, to continue his expansion, in the late 1970s he obtained a $5.2-million loan from John Hancock Insurance. Into the mid-1980s, Gerry personally guaranteed all the company's loans. When Cablevision Industries (CVI) crossed the 100,000-sub mark, it financed further expansion by becoming one of the first small companies to access the high-yield ("junk") bond market.

    In the early 1980s, Gerry installed the East Coast's first high-powered microwave delivery system and then used it to form his first 100,000-sub cluster, by tying together his cable systems in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. More clusters followed. Gerry built systems in Florida, the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic States.

    Gerry was one of the first cable operators to deploy fiber optic cable. CVI bought a Canadian-owned cable system in Los Angeles' West San Fernando Valley with a poor reliability record, and in 1989 he converted it to fiber. In 1996, he sold CVI to Time Warner.

    Gerry's companies were known for their outstanding customer service, creative financing methods and extremely efficient operation. At the time of the merger, CVI was the largest privately held cable company in the country serving over 1.3 million subscribers in 18 states.

    Today, Gerry still lives in the same house where he first repaired TV sets (although it has been greatly expanded). He founded and serves as chairman and CEO of Granite Associates, L.P., a diversified investment company that is active in telephony and communications and has helped many startup Internet companies go public. To help stimulate the depressed economy of his home region, Gerry purchased and resurrected the original 1969 Woodstock Festival site and several hundred surrounding acres. He has attracted music festivals there and is hoping to draw global tourists by transforming the historic pasture into an arts and entertainment complex that will hopefully also serve as the summer home of the New York Philharmonic.

    Gerry is still active in many cable organizations, including CablePAC and The Entrepreneurs' Club. His $10- million donation to the National Cable Center in Denver helped spur $45 million in additional contributions from his fellow industry leaders. Gerry is a major contributor to educational and medical institutions in the communities he serves. He endowed a chair of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, established the Paul Gerry Dialysis Center in Sayre, Pa., put a wing on his local hospital and is involved in a program at Boston University to find a cure for amyloidosis.

    In 1995, Mr. Gerry was the recipient of the Vanguard Award, cable television's most prestigious honor for distinguished leadership. He was inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame in 2000. Mr. Gerry has also received the Entrepreneur-of-the-Year Award from the New England chapter of the Institute of American Entrepreneurs, the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America and the Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation League. He has received an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Roger Williams University and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the State University of New York.

  • Albert Ricci

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO ORAL HISTORIES

    Albert Ricci

    Albert Ricci

    Interview Date: April 1988
    Interview Location: Florida
    Interviewer: John Grant
    Collection: Penn State Collection
    Note: Audio Only

    GRANT: Let me just start, Al, by asking you a little bit about your background, where you were born, where you grew up, some of the basic information.

    RICCI: Well, I grew up in Keene, New Hampshire. I was born in 1916 in Keene, New Hampshire of immigrant Italian parents. I went to eight grades of grammar school, and then went into work in a shoe factory. I worked until I was twenty years old. Then I started a food produce business in Keene. I worked on that until World War II broke out when I went into the Air Force. I flew B‑51 fighter planes.

    GRANT: How did you end up a pilot? Did you get all your training in the Air Force?

    RICCI: Yeah. It was interesting. I had no high school education, of course, and there was a test you had to pass to get in. The test was the equivalent of a sophomore in college. Of course, I had eight grades of school so it wasn't very easy for me. I flunked the first time, but then I went back and got tutored in math which was a big part of the test. I passed it the second time.

    GRANT: What made you want to be a pilot?

    RICCI: Oh, just the glamour.

    GRANT: The same thing that makes everybody else want to be a pilot.

    RICCI: That's right. Exactly. Especially a fighter pilot.

    GRANT: Tell me about the shoe factory that you worked in. You left school in the eighth grade. Was it your first job?

    RICCI: Yeah, that was my first job. My father worked in a shoe factory. He was the one who wanted me not to go any further in school because he needed the help to raise a big family.

    GRANT: How big was the family?

    RICCI: We had six children. He got me a job and I went to work near him in the shoe factory, until I couldn't stand it anymore.

    GRANT: So what got you out of the shoe factory? Was it the war?

    RICCI: No, it was the produce business.

    GRANT: Oh, the produce business, ok. How did you get into that, then?

    RICCI: Well, I got tired of the shoe factory so I went to work in a grocery store. It exposed me to the food produce business, which I liked, so I had an opportunity to set up a food produce department in another grocery store in the town. So that's what I did.

    GRANT: What was your father's reaction to your leaving the shoe business?

    RICCI: Well, as long as I made a living and brought home a paycheck, he didn't care.

    GRANT: Now what year would all of that have occurred? Do you remember?

    RICCI: Well, let's see. I left grammar school at age thirteen. And I went into the produce business at age twenty. So for seven years I kicked around shoe factories and other jobs similar to that. I was a Western Union delivery boy, and just bopped from one thing to another, until I got into the produce business. I guess all the time that I was working at these various jobs I was really looking for a business of my own. I think I was cut out to be my own man, so to speak.

    GRANT: You have entrepreneurial feelings that you regret.

    RICCI: Yes. I think that's it.

    GRANT: That's interesting. Tell me about the service experience now. I know this is an interesting part of your life. You went into the Air Force and became a pilot.

    RICCI: Yeah. I trained here in the southeast. I took my training in the P-51 Mustang in Bartow, Florida, which is about fifty, sixty miles from here. And then I was shipped to Colchester, England where I joined the 354th Fighter Group as a replacement pilot. I flew fourteen missions over a three month period. I was shot down in combat and ended up in a German prison camp. I was in the prison camp for fourteen months.

    GRANT: What year was that?

    RICCI: Let's see. That was March of 1944 until May of 1945. My entrepreneurial spirit took over in prison camp as well.

    GRANT: That's what I understand. Now, tell me about that.

    RICCI: Well, we had only the clothes on our backs and an extra shirt or an extra pair of trousers, and you had to keep them clean. The facilities were very primitive but adequate. Every time I went in to wash something, the people that were washing next to me were grumbling about the fact that they had to wash their own clothes. So I offered to wash their clothes for them for a fixed fee, like $25, until the end of the war, which seemed to be imminent. I ended up making two thousand dollars in prison camp. It was paid to me in all sorts of drafts on banks and checks on checking accounts on paper. Anything--toilet paper, labels from cans--whatever pieces of paper we could find.

    GRANT: So these were all IOUs?

    RICCI: All IOUs. But they were actual checks or drafts on banks. When I got home to Keene--they had gotten wet in the meantime, they were written in indelible pencil--they were all wet and the indelible pencil had run. So half of the checks were not legible. Half of each check, maybe the bank name was all right or the person's name who signed it, but it was very, very difficult to trace and to follow up on. But I gave them to a man in my bank at home and he took on the job of collecting them. He collected every single one.

    GRANT: No kidding.

    RICCI: Yeah. I think there were about forty of them.

    GRANT: So the banks were willing to honor the IOUs?

    RICCI: Yeah. The banks did. Every single case. Even when they didn't have a checking account they just drew a draft on their local bank, and the bank honored them. Every single one of them.

    GRANT: What was the reaction of the banker?

    RICCI: Well, he just sort of threw his hands up and said, "This is impossible." But he was just so glad to see me home; he was an old friend. So he took it on and he was evidently successful.

    GRANT: What was the reaction in the POW camp to your businesslike effort? Was it a morale booster for the camp?

    RICCI: Oh, yeah. As a matter of fact, the YMCA gave me a medal. I don't even remember the name of it, but it was only the second one that had been given in the United States for boosting the morale of prisoners. Beyond that, after we got out of prison camp, I became the advance publicity man for a prisoner of war exhibit. It started in our prison camp and it was a display of the arts and crafts created by the prisoners while in prison camp. It showed how we lived and so on. We produced the cooking equipment and the room, typical barracks, that sort of thing. We toured sixteen cities of the United States.

    GRANT: What ended your encampment? Was it the end of the war?

    RICCI: The end of the war, yes.

    GRANT: What did you do after the war, then? After you got done?

    RICCI: Well, I went home. I had that two thousand dollars plus my back pay from the service. My wife and I had both been record fans: Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, and all those bands. We loved that kind of music so we decided to open a record store, which we did in 1946 in our hometown. Eventually, television came on the scene so we took on television sets and hi‑fi and stereo. Television sets, principally, relate to this story. That's how we got into the cable television business. Selling television sets in a town where you couldn't receive any signals.

    GRANT: What was the record industry like in 1946? It must have been a boom time for records.

    RICCI: Well, it was. All of the big bands were recording like mad. I guess it was like 1947, 1948, within a year or two after we had gone into the business, the long-playing records had come out which were a tremendous boom to the industry. It gave our business a shot in the arm.

    GRANT: What gave you the idea to go into the record business?

    RICCI: Just the fact that we liked that music. Of course, we made a terrible mistake because that music sold but we didn't buy things like western, country and western and that sort of thing because we didn't like it ourselves. We found out that's what the customers wanted. So we had to learn the record industry.

    GRANT: Now, this was in Keene, New Hampshire.

    RICCI: All of this, everything took place in Keene, New Hampshire.

    GRANT: So the record business was a success, as you began to learn the business.

    RICCI: Yes, it took right off. We were very successful. As a matter of fact, I think we were in our first location for two years and outgrew it and went into a bigger location and eventually we went into a still bigger location. We took on hi‑fi, then television sets--of course, eventually, television sets were the big item.

    GRANT: Now, what year did television come on the scene?

    RICCI: I guess it was like '47 or '48, maybe '49. They started making their appearance in Keene. There were really very few television signals to be had. But everyone was trying. People were trying.

    GRANT: Where would you get the signal from?

    RICCI: Boston was the closest. Eventually we got a little out of Albany, New York and then Manchester, New Hampshire. As they proliferated, we got the Springfield, Massachusetts area.

    AT THIS TIME, MR. RICCI:'S WIFE, RUTH, ENTERED THE ROOM.

    GRANT: We were just talking about your record business and getting into the TV business. What was it like trying to sell TV sets in those days with poor reception?

    RICCI: Well, the important thing was to try to get enough signal to get a picture on the set. There were all sorts of schemes and antennas that went up. The higher your antenna was the better your chance of gathering in some signals. So we were putting up antennas with thirty or forty feet of pipe on the top of the roof and that's quite a feat.

    GRANT: I'll say.

    RICCI: Especially in the snow and ice kind of thing.

    GRANT: Yeah. As you sold the sets did the seller have an obligation to help the homeowner get the antenna to get the signal they needed?

    RICCI: Yeah. You sold it as a package because the set was no good to anyone without one of these monstrous antennas and a booster to go with it.

    GRANT: It's amazing that there is a generation of people growing up who don't know what TV antennas are.

    RICCI: No. You know, that's a fascinating part of the television business, and that it is probably lost.

    But it really is involved in the cable television business in many ways. Cable television replaced the antennas, but trying to sell people cable television when they had an investment of 150 bucks or 200 bucks in an antenna was very difficult in the early days.

    GRANT: What was your first recollection of this thing called cable television? When did you tie the first two houses together?

    RICCI: Well, I read about it. Probably in 1953. We went in 1954, I just looked it up. We built the system in December of 1954.

    RUTH Fifty-five.

    RICCI: Well, the paper says '54. Well, anyway. I read about it about a year before in Time magazine where a fellow named Milton Shapp, who later became Governor of Pennsylvania, was the creator and president of a company named Jerrold Corporation. Through Jerrold Corporation they started systems in Pennsylvania. Then, it was just described as an antenna on a mountain and they ran the signal by cable down into the valley. It was just described by Time magazine as being that simple. That was, of course, very, very primitive.

    I went out to Pennsylvania to see Milt Shapp to find out about it because we had the same problem in Keene. We were in sort of a bowl surrounded by mountains or hills, high hills. Those hills kept the signal out. So it seemed perfect for the Keene situation. So I went to see Milt Shapp and we talked about it. I was more convinced than ever after talking to him that that's what Keene needed. But it was a terribly big investment for something that "might" sell some television sets. It might work and it might not work. You know, it was that new.

    GRANT: In your mind, at that point, what was the investment risk? What were you investing to get the system set up?

    RICCI: Well, we had to buy the equipment, which was considerable. And it was a lot of work because you had to do testing to find the mountaintop or hilltop where the signals were. Then you had to make arrangements with the owner of that land to put a little building on it and receiving equipment, antennas and so on. You had to negotiate a contract with the local power company and telephone company to string cables on their poles. So all of that took time and money. You had to get a franchise from the city as well, a license we called it. We did that successfully. But we didn't know how the people in Keene were going to take to the system, because it was new and there was no history to it.

    GRANT: Did you call it cable then?

    RICCI: Yes.

    RUTH We called it a community antenna.

    RICCI: Community antenna system, I think that's right.

    RUTH People would ask, "What is it?" and we'd say, "It's a community antenna. All the people use one antenna." They couldn't understand the concept at first.

    GRANT: I'm sure. It seems so obvious now, but then. Let's go back to the Milton Shapp meetings. Did you meet often with him, or just the one time?

    RICCI: No, just the one time. I think it was interesting because, to show you how new it was and how new Jerrold was, when I went to see Milton Shapp he had an office with only one chair in it. He sat in that chair. The company was making boosters at that time, which was a box you put on the television set to give you additional signal strength. It boosted the television signals, supposedly. And that's what Jerrold was selling at the time. I had to sit on a crate of those boosters when we discussed this community antenna system concept.

    GRANT: Was he open, willing to share information?

    RICCI: Oh yes. Of course, yes. He is a very enthusiastic guy, a born salesman. He convinced me in no time. Of course, it was a very saleable product, I guess, as history has shown us. Milt was a heck of a salesman for cable television.

    GRANT: Was he getting a lot of folks like you, do you think, coming in to him at that time?

    RICCI: Yes, I think so. When it appeared in Time magazine, it got a lot of people curious. I think that's what really kicked it off. I don't know of anyone else that flew in to see him, but I'm sure they must have.

    GRANT: Have you and he corresponded or talked over the years?

    RICCI: Oh, yes. We served on the Board of Directors of the National Cable Television Association together. We've been friendly for years.

    GRANT: Ruth, let me ask you a few questions about those early days. Here you were in the record business, then you're trying to sell televisions in a town that doesn't get much television. Do you remember what your reactions or thoughts were as you entered this cable TV era?

    RUTH Oh, it was very exciting. And it was frustrating, some of the time. The thing that was interesting, in one section of town, we got some reception so everybody wanted cable. But the cable wouldn't give it to the other section of town, but then, we never anticipated selling it all over town. It was exciting to see it being accepted. After a while, everybody wanted it.

    GRANT: What made the people in the section where they could get it, want it?

    RUTH Well, because it was so much better through the cable than it was through their antenna, even in the section that could get some reception.

    GRANT: Ok. So that's actually a crystallized story of what's made cable so successful. Even if you can get television, you can improve it.

    RUTH Even in areas where there is a good signal, they want more.

    GRANT: How fast was the receptivity of the part of the people of the town? I have this impression of someone going around with a horse and buggy selling elixir on the back of their...

    RICCI: Well, it wasn't quite that.

    RUTH It was almost.

    RICCI: When we first started we had only wired a couple of streets because we didn't know what the reception by the public would be. We got a few customers and then we set up a little office and a display room where we had seven televisions...not seven. How many did we have?

    RUTH Five.

    RICCI: We had five different television sets with five different pictures on them, from five different channels. This is after we had been in business for a while. And that's when it took off. When people could see the television pictures. You weren't telling them about it. They could see for themselves. This was right under the brow of the hill where there was no reception.

    GRANT: Do you remember what the five stations were at that point?

    RICCI: No, but I think three of them were from Boston.

    GRANT: Were they?

    RICCI: Do you remember what they were?

    RUTH Manchester, New Hampshire.

    RICCI: Was Manchester on the air?

    RUTH Yes. Manchester was but Bill Putnam's station wasn't on.

    RICCI: Oh, I know. Channel 22 was on.

    RUTH I don't know what the others were.

    RICCI: Albany, New York.

    RUTH Albany, I forgot about that.

    RICCI: Ok. Three Bostons probably and Albany and Manchester. They didn't come out all at once, but I think when we started there was just one or two. Channel 4 was the NBC station. I think it was the first one on the air in our area.

    GRANT: The goal was to sell TVs. Did it have that result? Did you sell more TVs once the cable started?

    RICCI: Oh, sure. And that was the goal, that was the objective. There was no anticipation of making any money on the cable system. It was just a means of selling more television sets. Making pictures available throughout the city, and then you can sell more television sets.

    GRANT: Did you actually charge for the cable hookup at that point?

    RICCI: Oh, yes. The charges were $139.95 for the connection and $3.50 a month. That persisted that way for probably two or three years and then we instituted a second way of buying it. That was $50 for the connection and $5.95 a month.

    GRANT: So what was the difference?

    RICCI: Less of a down payment.

    GRANT: Oh, I see.

    RICCI: That would make it more available to more people. Instead of forking over $140, they had to come up with $50.

    RUTH But we did give them an allowance for their antenna.

    RICCI: Did we?

    RUTH Yes. We'd get the antennas down and we'd remove the antennas.

    RICCI: Yes, sure.

    GRANT: So, at that point they became totally reliant on your cable?

    RICCI: That's right. It's interesting that one of the big days we remember so vividly in that business is the day we were away and there was an ice storm. We called to see what happened at home. The ice storm had taken down a lot of antennas and they had taken orders for a hundred and some odd connections. That was a big breakthrough for us. We really celebrated that night.

    GRANT: The $130 was still cheaper, at that time, than an antenna would be.

    RICCI: It cost about the same. The antenna was about $140 ‑ $150 dollars.

    GRANT: That's about a tradeoff. It's interesting to hear you talk about the motivation behind the start of this cable effort was to sell TVs which is perfectly logical, given thirty years ago. At the time, did you have any inclination, or any expectation or any feeling, that it would turn around and be the cable itself that became the industry?

    RICCI: No, none whatsoever. The excitement was television, television itself, the picture. This was something new. You could imagine what the excitement was in those days. And it was exciting to us to be able to sell all the television sets. We figured everyone was going to have a television set in their home, and we wanted to be the ones to sell them. We had to provide a means for them to get reception in order to sell the television set.

    GRANT: So that's why there was no thought that you were founding the cable industry, here.

    RICCI: None whatsoever. We didn't know really how well it would work or whether the public would accept it. Whether they were willing to pay the $139.95 for the connection and $3.50 a month. A lot of people weren't. It took ice storms and a lot of convincing to get some of those people to connect to the cable.

    GRANT: What was the growth pattern like? The ice storm was a peak, I take it, but was it slow a couple of months?

    RICCI: It was slow. People were leery of it. Even though they could see the pictures in our little studio we had set up, they still felt that we must be getting those pictures somehow, or some other way. They really couldn't believe that we could duplicate that in their home. They were very leery of it. Wouldn't you say, Ruth?

    RUTH Oh, yes. I can remember one little old lady--there was always a little old lady--who came in up from Potter Street...

    RICCI: Yes, that was Mrs. Johnson.

    RUTH...and argued with you about the fact that she got better pictures than that on her little antenna at home. We couldn't convince her. She just resisted.

    RICCI: She actually took me to her home to show me. I said, "You can't be getting pictures better than me." And she said, "Come with me and I'll show you." So I went to her home to see and of course, she was looking at a couple of channels and they were just as snowy as they could be. But she still was not convinced.

    RUTH But when we started to sell it, when it started to take off, I did a lot of the selling because I was always there. It was fun to sell, because people would come in and thank you for selling it to them because it gave them so much pleasure. It took away so many worries. I'd never run into anything like that before or since.

    GRANT: It had to be rewarding.

    RICCI: It was. Just like the record business, we were selling entertainment and joy and happiness. It carried right through with television and the cable business. We're very thankful for that.

    GRANT: You must have been bringing TV to people who had never seen it before.

    RICCI: Oh, absolutely. No one in the town had seen it except a few people in the western part who could get a snowy picture. But most people had not seen it.

    GRANT: Did you ever make Time magazine with what you were doing?

    RICCI: No, as a matter of fact, it took many years before the industry was recognized. Ruth just mentioned a little while ago that when you said "cable television systems" to people they didn't know what you were talking about.

    If you flew on a airplane and you got to talking to a person, they would ask, "What business are you in?" "The cable television business." "Well what's that? I never heard of that." So you'd spend the whole flight telling him about it. In order to get away from that, when people asked us the business we were in, we'd say we were in the television business. That was the end of the conversation right there.

    GRANT: Were you aware of the other pockets of entrepreneurial development that were going on around the country? In those very early days, was there any, not formal association, but contact with other people who were doing the same kind of thing?

    RICCI: Not really. We heard a little bit about maybe in a town twenty or thirty miles away, somebody was fooling with it. That sort of thing. But it wasn't known enough around the country to have an association. I think probably the association formed a year or two after that. [Note to the reader: The National Community Television Council, the first CATV trade association was founded in 1951.]

    GRANT: What were the early problems--what were the biggest obstacles other than overcoming people's understanding--that you ran into?

    RICCI: Well, the problem of the equipment. The equipment was crude and unreliable. In the area where we were where the temperatures in the summertime were in the '90s and in the wintertime they could go down to twenty or thirty below. That caused all sorts of problems. Now they don't have those problems, of course.

    GRANT: Where were you getting your equipment?

    RICCI: Well, we got ours from a company called SKL in Boston. They had twelve channel equipment. Milt Shapp's company sold six channel equipment. So we bought ours from SKL because we could foresee the day when we'd want to have more than six channels on our system. So that's the equipment that we had.

    GRANT: Ruth, let me go back a minute for the sales part, since you said you were involved in that. How did you sell it, at that point? What was your pitch?

    RUTH Well, we ran promotions through the studio and so forth. Actually we did a lot of promotions, mailing promotions, and so forth. It stirred up curiosity, but the idea was selling the concept. Once they understood the concept and would come and talk to us, they usually weren't very hard to sell, if you had a set there with a sparkling picture on it. We had a lot of fun with the advertising.

    RICCI: We sold three things in our sales campaigns. Maybe even four. We sold more pictures, better pictures, and get rid of your antenna. That was quite a thing. Getting rid of that monster on your roof. Those are the three things we hammered on. We got a local artist who created a little character like Freddy Kilowatt. His name was Abel Cable. We built our sales campaign around him.

    GRANT: Abel Cable?

    RICCI: Abel Cable was his name. He would draw up these sales mailing pieces and we would send them out in a series of three over a two week period, four days apart. They'd get one that would stress, "Get rid of that antenna!" and one that would stress, "More pictures!" and the other one would stress, "Better pictures!" The National Cable Association gave us special recognition for those sales campaigns. {Note to the reader: Abel Cable was a registered trademark of the National Cable Television Association which also originated and designed the mark.}

    GRANT: That sounds like pretty aggressive marketing.

    RICCI: It was pretty imaginative in those days.

    GRANT: Did you notice changes in the town at this point? This is an interesting time, it seems to me. People weren't used to being entertained in their homes. They were used to going out for entertainment. Did you notice changes in the town as more people started to have access to cable television?

    RICCI: Oh, sure. You know I think, particularly the boxing matches and the wrestling matches were great attractions on television. In those days, on a Friday night, for example, two or three families would gather to watch the Friday night fights. We'd often go fifteen miles from our home to another person's home who lived on a hilltop and had better reception than where we lived. We'd go there almost every Friday night. It was sort of a ritual. That's the sort of thing that happened.

    RUTH Of course, the movie theaters are not like this. That was the one thing that we heard early.

    GRANT: Did it have an impact, or was it more of a fear of an impact?

    RUTH I think probably it had an impact. I don't remember any particular details about it, but it had to have an impact on theaters.

    RICCI: Well, the movie industry is still trying to throttle the cable industry. Sure, we keep people at home and now we show them movies without going to the theater.

    GRANT: Do you remember when it dawned on you that this wasn't just a way to sell TVs? That it was actually going to be an industry?

    RICCI: Yes. I think probably in a very short period of time, like two or three years. Maybe it was that long.

    RUTH I think so. Before we separated the two businesses.

    RICCI: It happened gradually, so it's really hard to say it happened at a precise time. It wasn't easy selling cable in the early days.

    GRANT: But at some point you began to realize that selling TVs was nice, but there may be a much larger business or industry in just the cable part of it.

    RICCI: Yes, right. We figured we'd get one out of ten homes. As time went on we'd get up to sixty and seventy percent. So seven out of ten homes.

    GRANT: Yeah, wow.

    RICCI: We sold our system in 1963 and had 2200 subscribers and now that system has 10,000 subscribers. About 400%, 300% growth, since 1963 and the town hasn't grown that much. The penetration is now 90%.

    RUTH And they've added nearby towns to it. They've broadened it, reached out farther.

    GRANT: You talked about splitting the business off. Was there a point where you took the cable business separate from the record business?

    RUTH Yes. The cable business moved out.

    RICCI: It needed its own office.

    GRANT: Did you continue to run the record business for a number of years?

    RICCI: Yes, we ran that until 1968. Actually five years after we sold that system. But when we sold that system we were building other systems.

    GRANT: In the New Hampshire area mostly?

    RICCI: New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New York State. Massachusetts, too. We ended up building thirteen systems.

    GRANT: In those early days, what was the reaction or response from early government or government officials, mayors, councils? Did they understand what you were doing?

    RICCI: They didn't understand it. They didn't know what to do with it either. Even when you explained what you were doing and what the system did, then they didn't really know what to do with them. They didn't know what authority they had with it. They finally decided that you had to get permission from them to cross the city streets and right-of-ways. You had to deal with the city first and then you dealt with the power company and the phone company.

    I remember going to a city council meeting before we had the system. They had gotten a letter from an entrepreneur asking them for a license. It was on the agenda that night to discuss giving a license to this fella just on the strength of a letter that he wrote in. I went to them and pleaded with them not to give it until someone was prepared to build the system. Of course, I knew that someone was going to be me. I had talked them out of it that night, not to give a franchise just on the basis of a letter. It really was quite easy to get a franchise, especially if you were a native, a local boy.

    GRANT: So, they had some confidence and trust in you.

    RICCI: Yes. We went into Massachusetts and they said, "These people are from New Hampshire." They looked at us with a jaundiced eye.

    RUTH City slickers coming in.

    RICCI: "What are they trying to sell us? What's this thing they're talking about?"

    RUTH We had a lot of fun at some of those old time franchise meetings.

    RICCI: Dealing with a selectman.

    GRANT: Yeah. Clearly at that point this comes into a much larger business than you started out with.

    RUTH Originally, it was all small towns, small cities. It wasn't metropolitan at all. I think that's one of the things that made the industry, because you dealt with people individually, rather than governments as they are.

    GRANT: Did you use the same marketing techniques when you went into the new towns?

    RICCI: Yes, we did. Because they had been very successful in Keene. When the National Association (NCTA) was formed, one of the early things they did was put together a booklet of all of the promotions of all of their members that had been sent in. So in your monthly mailing, you've got inserts that were ideas for promotions for the cable. Ours were all reproduced in the booklet and given special attention because they were outstanding, at the time.

    End of Tape 1, Side A

    RICCI: It took a long time for it to catch on.

    GRANT: Yeah. Especially in those areas, I think, where it wasn't an urgent need.

    RICCI: Exactly. It didn't get into the cities because they had good television reception.

    GRANT: You mentioned that most systems, I think in the early days had, in some cases, only three channels, some had six. Obviously, you were one of the first, perhaps, the first, to have the twelve channel system.

    RICCI: I don't know if we were the first but we were among the first.

    GRANT: What led you to want to have the capacity for twelve even though you couldn't get twelve signals at that point?

    RICCI: Well, I envisioned the day when you could get twelve signals. You know, there were a lot of people who were perfectly happy with five channels. The option was five or twelve. But many operators opted for the five because they couldn't imagine there being more than five channels of television available to them.

    RUTH That was before the microwave.

    RICCI: That's right.

    RUTH It was just strictly an antenna, higher up, picking up a signal that you couldn't get at home. I don't think in Keene we could have anticipated getting any further away than Boston at that time. And that was big.

    RICCI: Then there was just the three networks and where else was another television station coming from?

    GRANT: So there weren't independent stations in those days?

    RICCI: No. Not when they first started.

    GRANT: Now, I'm curious. What light bulb went off to tell you that someday there was going to be a need for twelve?

    RICCI: I don't know. I just felt that there would be.

    RUTH He has a lot of imagination. Foresight.

    GRANT: Apparently.

    RICCI: I just had the feeling it would be twelve and even maybe more. And I used to argue twelve channels in gatherings of operators, but they still often clung to the five channels. The theory, as I told you, that there wouldn't be enough stations to fill up twelve channels.

    GRANT: Now that lasted for a long time.

    RICCI: It did. I can remember arguing the cause when television was pretty prevalent in New Hampshire and Vermont. It reached quite a stage of development, and I was still arguing in favor of twelve channels.

    GRANT: Do you remember what your first channels were? When you began to be able to fill those twelve?

    RICCI: Well, it was strictly the three networks until an educational came on. But we sold three NBCs on our cable. And the reason for it was that all the NBCs didn't carry just NBC programs. They had the different news programs. There was some variety. But there was a lot of repetition. It was not unusual to have two CBSs, two NBCs, and two ABC channels. You had to have something to fill the channels. There was some difference so we used them.

    GRANT: Did people like the differences?

    RICCI: No. That was the one thing they said, "What do I need two NBCs for? I can only watch Phil Silvers one night, at one time. I don't need two Phil Silver programs."

    GRANT: It strikes me as interesting that that argument has been turned around to some degree. And it's the cable people who are asking that question, "Why do I need two ABCs or two CBSs?"

    RICCI: Well then there was a hunger for variety even though you had two NBCs and only two hours were different on those two stations.

    RUTH Especially when one of them was a sports program.

    GRANT: Like a local sports program.

    RUTH The Boston one would carry the Red Sox and someone else would carry the Yankees, or something like that.

    RICCI: Sure we always looked at a station that carried the ball games, or any sports.

    GRANT: That's still a rather common ingredient.

    RICCI: Yes, it still is. In those days a lot of it was boxing. Boxing was a big, big thing in the early days of television.

    GRANT: Do you remember what was the relationship with Spencer-Kennedy Laboratories? What business were they in that got them into the cable business?

    RICCI: Gee, I can't really answer that. They were in some other business, but I don't recall what it was.

    GRANT: Electronics.

    RICCI: Yes, some other business. Electronics. They had a research department. I think that cable was just one segment of their business.

    GRANT: And these devices they were producing were just for cable at that point?

    RICCI: That's right.

    GRANT: Did you find at this point that young entrepreneurs began coming to Keene, New Hampshire to talk to you?

    RICCI: Well, there was a lot of that. We went to other places as well. In 1960, about four years after we got into business, we became very active in the National Community Antenna Television Association. I was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association in 1960. The Board of Directors were people like myself from all over the country.

    RUTH We also had a New England Association that was started before that.

    RICCI: Yes.

    GRANT: So it preceded a National Association.

    RICCI: No, I don't think it preceded it.

    GRANT: Simultaneous.

    RICCI: I think the National Association came before the New England Association.

    GRANT: So you spent a fair amount of your time doing missionary work for cable TV?

    RICCI: Yeah, I did.

    RUTH The early systems were in small towns so the industry didn't get much publicity. It wasn't very well known.

    GRANT: Most of the media towns weren't aware that it was going on, I guess.

    RICCI: No, whoever heard of putting an antenna on top of a hill and bringing in television signals on a piece of wire. That didn't make any sense.

    GRANT: Did you get reactions from TV stations?

    RICCI: Oh yes. They were violently opposed to cable TV. In this past Sunday's New York Times, the lead story in the business section was about the efforts to curb the growth of cable television. When we started we were nothing. The big networks were spending their time in Washington to try to get this industry squashed before it ever got started. They could see it as being disastrous for them. As it turned out, it has been.

    GRANT: So right from the beginning there was that friction between broadcasting and cable.

    RICCI: Sure, right from the beginning. We were in a peculiar position because probably the most violent and outspoken of anyone about the cable television business was a fellow named Bill Putnam. He had this television station in Springfield, Massachusetts. We were in his coverage area. He used to editorialize on the 7:00 news about the pirates who were stealing his signal and selling it for these enormous fees, jilting the public, bringing them nothing they couldn't get with a decent antenna.

    RUTH Some of his editorials were really almost libel. He would name names.

    RICCI: Oh yeah. He was vitriolic. Nationally he was the opponent of cable television.

    GRANT: They didn't see the advantage of increasing the people who could see their ads, for example.

    RICCI: That was our pitch. We're increasing your audience, what are you complaining about? They could foresee the day when cable would hurt them. By bringing in, for example, not only many more channels, but bringing in channels from a competitor from the Boston station, we'd bring the Chicago station into Boston. We'd bring the New York station into Boston. That possibility was what they didn't like.

    GRANT: When did you start bringing in out of the area stations, microwave possibility? What was the foundations of that?

    RUTH We never had any microwaves.

    GRANT: Didn't you?

    RUTH No.

    RICCI: New England operators were talking about putting antennas up on Mount Washington, which is the highest mountain, east of the Mississippi, and covering the New England area with microwave from the top of Mount Washington, where you could get signals from any number of stations. That idea died with the advent of satellites.

    GRANT: So when you were in the business at that stage most of it was still local or regional signals?

    RICCI: That's right. We carried stations from Boston; from Manchester, New Hampshire; from Albany, New York; from Springfield, Massachusetts; and from Hartford, Connecticut. Those are all within, say, a hundred miles. Channel 2, which is an educational channel out of Boston. Channel 11 out of Durham, New Hampshire, which is another educational. We could get quite a lineup just from the antenna on the top of the hill.

    GRANT: What was the business like in those days? As I've read, a lot of the people who grew up in cable got started in a record shop or were electricians. What was the business like in those days, in terms of the kinds of people that were involved?

    RICCI: Mostly it was engineering types. Radio repairmen who started dabbling with television. They had the electronic knowledge to recognize that it was a viable scheme to put an antenna on the top of the hill and bring it into the home via cable. Those are the kinds of guys who were initially in the cable television business. Now it's run by high powered businessmen.

    GRANT: We call you folks pioneers now. Did you have a pioneer feeling then? Did you feel like you were on the frontier?

    RICCI: Yes, we did.

    RUTH We never really knew what we had.

    RICCI: We didn't know what we had in the very early days. We told you, our only reason for bringing television in was so that we could sell television sets. Of course, that changed as time went on. Soon the tail was wagging the dog. There were people who could envision a lot more than that. They envisioned things that are happening today. I can remember talking with Irving Kahn and he was showing me a box that he had developed. He had a display worked up where you could order something from a store, home shopping it was (Key TV). All you did was punch in three or four digits on a dial and you would get this dress, or snow shovel, or whatever that you had seen on the screen. He had this concept developed very early in the game.

    RUTH He started talking about it in 1960.

    RICCI: That's right, back in 1960. See, the industry then was only about four or five years old. Irving Kahn was one of the visionaries.

    GRANT: That interactive potential still has never been realized, I guess.

    RICCI: No, but I'm confident it will be.

    GRANT: My recollection is of Walter Cronkite doing one of those old 20th Century programs where he talked about this black box being in your house and what cable would bring you. You would be able to do your shopping and your banking from home. Basically, at this point in its development, it's not unlike what you started it out to be, which was delivering variety in entertainment.

    RICCI: That's right. Of course, cable has gone into the movie business and that sort of thing. They're creating programs and they are broadening the scope of available programs. But they are still doing essentially the same thing, bringing in better pictures and more of them.

    GRANT: I mean this in only the most flattering way, but cable has always been called a "Mom and Pop" business. You two strike me as the original Mom and Pop of the cable business.

    RICCI: That's the way it was. It really was a Mom and Pop business. The early systems were started with bailing wire and spit. A lot of it was creative on part of the people who started it. Because the equipment, as I told you, was pretty crude in the early days.

    GRANT: Were there struggles in the early days, Ruth? Were there times when you wondered if you should be back selling Benny Goodman records?

    RUTH Well, I did that on the side.

    RICCI: Tell them about the night someone cut the cable.

    RUTH Oh, the afternoon?

    RICCI: Sunday afternoon.

    RUTH It was a late Sunday afternoon. I don't know how many subscribers we had but it felt like a million, when someone cut the cable and the system was off the air.

    RICCI: It was Sunday night with Ed Sullivan.

    RUTH We had two sons. One was old enough to go out with his mother and father and all the rest of the crew we could round up, climbing up that hill to find out where the cable was broken. The other son helped his grandmother answer the telephone. It was just ringing off the hook.

    RICCI: We probably only had one hundred or two hundred customers. Well it was sheer panic. Everybody was calling, no Ed Sullivan, they were going to miss Ed Sullivan. Everybody who had a TV set tuned into the Ed Sullivan show in those days.

    RUTH Once people had cable, it became so important.

    GRANT: Irreplaceable.

    RUTH I'm sure for anyone who had it, when any special program was on they had a house full of people.

    GRANT: That part of cable hasn't changed at all either. In talking to the people who run local cable systems, if it happens to go off in the middle of the World Series, God forbid.

    RUTH You can't get hold of anybody now, they take the phone off the hook.

    GRANT: Or you get a machine saying, "Call Monday morning."

    RICCI: I think, John, that in the early days, most of these people who started cable systems were the radio repairman, or the local guy that had a music store or a television store. So it was a Mom and Pop business. It didn't go into the cities until recently, and in some major cities they still don't have it.

    GRANT: Do you remember when you began to see the transition to more than just what the initial service had been? Do you remember the conversations when there was talk of superstations and cable origination stations?

    RICCI: I can remember when the New England Association, which was probably compromised of six or eight people at that time, met in the fire station in Lebanon, New Hampshire. A man came to speak to us about putting movies on cable and he was going to bicycle the films around. He had this grand scheme and that was the beginning of the sort of thing that could happen on cable. That was the first inkling that we had. I would imagine that was the late '50s.

    GRANT: So there was some thought even then, that now we have this, maybe it can be more than just a delivery.

    RICCI: What the guy had is what we have now, HBO. This guy had that concept back in the late '50s.

    GRANT: Eventually you sold your system. When was that?

    RICCI: We sold it in 1963.

    GRANT: What led you to that decision?

    RICCI: The reason was financial. It was a struggle to finance the growth of the Keene system so we decided to sell it and that would provide us with funds to build other systems.

    GRANT: That seems to be a rather common way that cable people went, to build and sell a system. Which, again, is part of being an entrepreneur in business.

    RICCI: Yes.

    GRANT: Was there a time when you kind of pulled the blinds shut in the bedroom and laughed at the amount of money that these systems were worth based on how they got started?

    RICCI: Oh, it was staggering. We sold our system for $550,000 in 1963 and that seemed like as much money as there was in the whole world.

    GRANT: What happened after you sold the Keene system? You still worked in how many other systems?

    RICCI: We built and got involved in twelve other systems.

    GRANT: I guess those were all over New England.

    RICCI: Two in New York State, one in Vermont, two in Maine, and the rest of them were in Massachusetts.

    GRANT: Did you eventually sell those systems?

    RICCI: We sold all of those. We sold our last system in 1971 or 1972, something like that.

    GRANT: You have effectively been retired from active cable business since then?

    RICCI: I was semi‑retired when I sold the Keene system, and then I retired when I was fifty-four years old. I had some heart problems. So we sold all the systems and came down here.

    GRANT: You were active in something called the Pole Line Commission. You were Director of it for a while.

    RICCI: Yes. I was the chairman of the Utilities Relations Committee. It had to do with negotiations with the power and the telephone companies. During that time I really got involved with the telephone company. We had a system in Duchess County, New York, and the telephone company, a branch of AT&T, built a competing system on the same poles as us. We had a contract with them for the use of their poles and they built a competing system. I got some legal people in Washington and took them to court. TelePrompTer, which was one of the big companies then, went in with us. I've forgotten, there is a legal term for it, but they joined us in our action against the telephone company. I think there were two or three others big cable companies that joined in the action against AT&T and we took them to court and beat them. They still cannot go into the cable television business.

    GRANT: What was the relationship like? You had the networks and the TV stations not that thrilled about you. The utilities weren't too thrilled.

    RICCI: The utilities, especially the phone companies, disliked us intensely, still do.

    GRANT: (Chuckle) Yes. What was the reason for that in those days?

    RICCI: Well, I guess they resented us going on their poles. Our attitude was, heck, the poles are there and we're going to pay you $5 a year for the use of each rental on each pole. You ought to be happy about that. Income without spending any more money. But they felt we were encroaching on their poles using their poles to compete with them because they felt they ought to be in the cable television business. They wanted that for themselves. And they tried like hell to keep us off the poles.

    One incident that shook the phone company occurred in the small town of Manson, Massachusetts where we had a franchise we couldn't get an agreement from the utilities. They kept stalling us, and stalling us, and stalling us. So I got permission from the town fathers to erect some poles of our own. We were going to erect poles throughout the city. We put up a slick metal pole that only went up as high as we needed to go which was not as high as all the telephone poles, because they had to have a lot of space for the power companies. The power companies had big lines and transformers and all that thing. We erected, on one of the streets in Manson, four of these poles with different colors. We were going to let the selectmen pick the color they wanted. Green, or aluminum color, brown.

    RUTH They were much more attractive. Much more attractive.

    RICCI: When the telephone company saw those, God, they gave us an agreement within days.

    GRANT: So their feeling was that you wouldn't need them (the phone company) any more.

    RICCI: Right. A competitive pole line in the town. It just shook them up terribly.

    GRANT: You mentioned the legal battle that occurred. That, I take it, was a historical development in terms of cable television.

    RICCI: Sure, it precluded AT&T and all telephone companies from building their own cable systems in competition with the cable industry.

    GRANT: From your point of view, in the cable industry at that time, what was your fear of them getting involved?

    RICCI: If the phone companies were allowed to enter the cable business it would have been the end of the line for us. They owned the poles that we had to go on to operate and they had the money, manpower and equipment to put us out of business.

    GRANT: The whole industry might have been different.

    RICCI: Absolutely. It would be owned now by the utilities, by the telephone companies.

    GRANT: Do you find it ironic that now cable, as you mentioned the other day in The New York Times, is now being attacked for the same reasons. That now it is the cable industry who is the behemoth and others are complaining. Is the shoe on the other foot at this point?

    RICCI: Oh, sure it is. Look what has happened to the networks. The networks have lost viewers dramatically. They've lost value in the marketplace. Their income has been chopped away because they have lost viewers and their advertising revenues have been cut. They're suffering.

    GRANT: I guess it is highly possible at this point that, for lack of a better word, the phone company is going to be allowed to get into cable or some other distribution method over the next couple of years. That seems to be more of a possibility than, I guess, in the past.

    RICCI: Well, I don't think that bothers the cable industry as much now, because most of this country is wired anyway.

    GRANT: So it doesn't matter as much.

    RUTH Isn't there some talk about Florida Power and Light (FP&L) overbuilding?

    RICCI: Yes, here in Florida. Florida Power & Light. The big electric power company, they're not a telephone company. They're not precluded from entering the business.

    GRANT: What was the NCTA like in those early days?

    RICCI: A lot of fun. You know, a Board of Directors of fifteen people all cut from the same bolt of cloth, from all over the country. When we first went on the Board of Directors, we were from New Hampshire and we immediately got friendly with a couple from Del Rio, Texas, which is on the Mexican border. We couldn't understand their dialect and they couldn't understand ours.

    GRANT: That's quite a shock, from New Hampshire...

    RICCI: Quite a cultural shock, I'll tell you. We laugh about it until this day. They were just wonderful people. Everyone in the industry was an exciting person in an exciting industry. I can remember the Second Report and Order which was a document formulated by the Federal Communications Commission to curb the growth of cable. It was promoted by the broadcasters, people like Bill Putnam. We went to a board meeting just after this had been put into force and a writer of the broadcast magazine who attended most of our meetings, pulled me aside at an affair we were having. He said, "What I don't understand, Mr. RICCI:, is all of you people seem to be having a hell of a good time and enjoying life and how can you just do that when the Second Report and Order has just been enforced? You guys ought to be crying." He just couldn't understand that we were so optimistic and enthusiastic about our business. We were entrepreneurs and the Second Report and Order was a burr under the saddle but it wasn't going to stop us by any means. And it didn't of course.

    GRANT: The networks were extremely powerful in those days. How did this young fledgling industry stand up to them?

    RICCI: Well, we just scrapped. We developed some friends in the Congress, that's where the battle was fought. We slowly developed some friends and gradually overcame the enemy. Now we're the enemy.

    GRANT: That's completely turned around in about a decade or so.

    RICCI: Yes.

    GRANT: What was the feeling like at the NCTA meetings in those days? Was there a Bunker mentality? Was it all you little folks against the networks?

    RICCI: Yes. It really was. Ninety-five percent of their energies went to fighting the broadcasters and the networks and the utilities.

    GRANT: What were the battles over?

    RICCI: Well, they were trying to curb us through the Congress. If they had had their way, we would have been outlawed.

    GRANT: What arguments were they using at that time?

    RICCI: That we were pirates.

    GRANT: Stealing.

    RICCI: Using the copyright example, that we were stealing their copyrighted material without paying any copyright fees. One of our biggest battles at NCTA was a copyright battle. We finally did have to pay some copyright fees but they were minimal.

    GRANT: They still are I think. Was the NCTA effective in those days in making the case?

    RICCI: Yes.

    GRANT: Who was the leadership involved?

    RICCI: I'd say probably the most influential guy was Bill Daniels. He was a successful cable operator and a successful broker. He had a lot of drive and a lot of guts and he was a born leader. I would say that he is certainly one of the key people.

    GRANT: When did your involvement with the NCTA start?

    RICCI: My involvement started in 1960.

    RUTH As a director, but you were a member a couple of years before.

    RICCI: Sometime between 1955 and 1960 when I got involved. I became a member as soon as I heard of the National Association.

    GRANT: Now, I'm told if I can get you a cigar you'll actually reenact the end. Do you still smoke cigars?

    RICCI: No.

    GRANT: Had to give those up?

    RICCI: That was a lot of fun.

    RUTH He did smoke cigars.

    GRANT: Ben Conroy told me that if you had a cigar in your mouth you'd look like Groucho Marx.

    RICCI: I mimic Groucho Marx. I was emcee at our annual convention dinner for several years. I emceed some other events during the conventions.

    GRANT: It sounds to me like the two of you enjoyed yourself in this.

    RICCI: Oh, we did. It was an exciting business. There aren't very many people who are privileged to be involved in the birth of an industry. Especially something dealing with entertainment bringing pleasure to our subscribers.

    GRANT: Ruth, what has your experience been? You seem to have been here every step of the way. A real partnership, between the two of you.

    RUTH We just started it. You couldn't possibly sit aside and watch it grow without being involved in it. I don't know. We always had worked together anyhow. We started the store when we first started out business. He had just come back from the service and from being a POW. I didn't intend to get into it at that time, but things happen, so from that point on we worked together so we saw all of these developments together.

    GRANT: Were you involved at the NCTA level?

    RUTH A very good association, a very intelligent association, always had one meeting a year where the ladies were invited and they always made it quite glamorous. My first meeting was at the Greenbriar. There was a director's group which was a relatively small group so you made good friends. So that made really good feelings about the whole thing and continued all the time we were in it.

    GRANT: Since your retirement, do you stay active with the NCTA in any way?

    RICCI: No. I didn't.

    RUTH We've been to two or three dinners.

    RICCI: Pioneer dinners.

    RUTH But that's huge.

    GRANT: You still obviously seem to keep up with what is going on in cable.

    RICCI: Yes we do. It is still an exciting industry.

    RUTH Did you mention Scott?

    RICCI: We have a son who, in the last six years, built up some small cable systems up in New Hampshire. Just a couple of weeks ago sold them.

    GRANT: So he's following right in your footsteps, sounds like.

    RICCI: Right in my footsteps. It's gratifying.

    RUTH When we were in business, they wanted no part of it. He wasn't interested in it at all, but he did work for us in some of the things, so he had some experience. He's doing a great job at it now.

    GRANT: When you talk with him, obviously, there are parallels here, but is the spirit different for him than it was for you at that point? Again, you were on the cutting edge or frontier. Now what you've described almost becomes more of a business or an investment undertaking. I guess my question is, "Does your son feel like a pioneer?"

    RICCI: Well, I think in a sense, I don't know if he feels like a pioneer, but he certainly senses some of the excitement that we did. He went through this business of going before boards of selection to get franchises, which is the same thing that we did. He went through the business of building the system, the physical. It was an exciting thing building a plant, which we did. And the merchandising of the service was an exciting part of it. He did that, as we did. It wasn't quite as pioneering as it was then, but he certainly shared the excitement of cable television.

    GRANT: You have two sons. What does the other one do?

    RICCI: He is in the house building business. Far removed.

    GRANT: Is that purposeful or just a different path that he took?

    RICCI: Just a different path.

    End of Tape 1, Side B

    GRANT: A few questions a little bit later on about cable today and some of the more recent developments and the like. Before we get to that let's reflect a bit back to your pioneer days again. Were there events that occurred along that course, say, of the first couple of years, not just with yourself, but with cable in general, that had some things gone differently the industry might never have gotten off the ground or might never flourished? Was it a delicate industry in those days?

    RICCI: I don't think so. I think that the early people were so enthusiastic about what they were doing that in spite of the opposition from the broadcasters the success of the industry was assured. Of course, the thing that really changed it was the satellites. That really changed the industry.

    GRANT: What impact did they have?

    RICCI: Well, it brought into being people like HBO and the cable networks like C‑SPAN--all of those I guess there are twenty or thirty of them now--networks that just serve cable television. Those would not have been possible without satellites. I think the industry from day one was such an exciting industry because of the nature of the people who were in it; entrepreneurs who had a lot of vision, get up and go, the necessary ingredients to successfully launch a new industry. It was the nature of the people, I think, that had a lot to do with the success of the industry.

    GRANT: You mentioned this before. Most of them were Mom and Pop type setups in those days. They were still individuals that... I guess what I'm rooting around to get at is, was there a time, an event or place that you look at and say, well, this is when cable took off? It doesn't seem to be that. It seems to be a sort of, in many ways, almost a haphazard development.

    RICCI: It did. That's right. When we started we heard about somebody in a town, twenty or thirty miles away doing the similar thing. That was happening throughout the United States. All of these sort of brush fires were popping up all over the country. A good example is the first one in Pennsylvania or Oregon. That's about almost as far as you can get from one to the other within the continental United States. That was the nature of the business.

    GRANT: Was it the NCTA that began to pull it together? What were the factors that began to pull it together as not just isolated pockets, but as an industry?

    RICCI: To fight a common enemy, which was the broadcasters and the telephone. That's really what caused NCTA to grow and become a powerful organization.

    GRANT: So as it developed from a grass roots to a national power you attracted enemies that forced you to organize?

    RICCI: That's right. The enemies forced us to organize. NCTA organized successfully and the people who were on the board, the entrepreneurs, were the same entrepreneurs who started these systems. They had vision and they had energy, drive. They were unbeatable.

    GRANT: Go back to your twelve channel idea again. You obviously had a lot of missionary work and lobbying for that point of view. When did that concept begin to take hold? When did the idea that it was going to be more than just five channels as a potential start to grow?

    RICCI: I think in the eyes of some people like myself, it grew with the birth of the business. My reason for going to the wide band--we called it wide band as opposed to narrow band--was because I felt there would be three or four or five channels. I think that's the way a lot of people thought.

    GRANT: In those days, did you envision in any way, or did anybody envision the kinds of services that might be possible that we're seeing today, in terms of a channel devoted to Congress, a channel devoted to weather, a channel devoted to nature? Was there any feeling that this idea was going to grow into what it has become?

    RICCI: In the very early days of cable television it was looked at as a system to bring in more and better pictures and I don't recall thinking beyond that point. However, I do recall that Irving Kahn had developed a home shopping system about twenty-eight years ago.

    GRANT: So that's 28 years ago. It's only in the last couple of years that we've had home shopping.

    RICCI: The visionaries in the business foresaw a lot of this a long time ago.

    GRANT: Was cable TV an eight to five job in those days?

    RICCI: No. No. Twenty-four hours a day. No. People were traveling all over the country looking for franchises. People were crisscrossing the country. It was a fever among the people involved to get franchises. It was just like mining gold. It was like a gold strike.

    GRANT: They wanted to get there first.

    RICCI: Like the Klondike. Getting those franchises was the name of the game.

    GRANT: There weren't many of you in those days. That was part of it I take it. Let's get our claim in before the rest of the world finds out about it.

    RICCI: Right.

    GRANT: So were you active during that? Were you crisscrossing the country at that point?

    RICCI: Well we were crisscrossing our part of the country.

    GRANT: New England.

    RICCI: New England and New York state. At one time, on my garage walls I had topographic maps of the entire Northeast. They were for the purpose of determining where there were valleys and rivers. You know, we built along the Connecticut River and the Connecticut River Valley and the Hudson River Valley in New York. It was like staking out a claim, finding an area on the map and then going there and attempting to get a franchise.

    GRANT: What was the toughest sell in those days, when you went in to get the franchises? What was the toughest thing to sell?

    RICCI: The toughest thing was to convince the town that we weren't trying to pull something fast on them. Getting across to them that cable television was really a benefit. The local people who installed antennas and made a living installing antennas feared that we might infringe on their business. Because they didn't understand the cable business they fought it at city hall.

    GRANT: You hit me as a pretty good salesman. I take it you were pretty good at winning some of those arguments.

    RICCI: Well, it was our enthusiasm for our product that sold it to the city and town fathers.

    GRANT: I sensed that part of it, that even today you still have an enthusiasm.

    RICCI: I think it's the greatest business. I feel so privileged for having been in it.

    GRANT: Ruth, did you some of the traveling?

    RUTH On occasion. I can remember at least one time when he was making a presentation in one town and my older son and I went and made a presentation in another town. I don't remember if we got the franchise or not.

    RICCI: That's how busy we were, we had to send members of the family to cover the area.

    RUTH When we got a franchise, I'd go and open up the office, get the business part of it going. Which was fun.

    GRANT: Your analogy to the gold strike seems to be a perfect way of describing what was going on at that time.

    RUTH Yeah.

    GRANT: What was the difficulty once you got the franchise? How much work was involved? That's the first battle obviously, but you still haven't connected a house at that point.

    RUTH No. You'd have to get your antenna site, that's the first thing. Then getting personnel, equipment, and then selling the product.

    RICCI: Every town that Ruth went into was a new experience. They didn't know what cable television was. Unless there was an adjoining town very close that had it, they had no way of knowing what you were selling.

    GRANT: Today, cable still struggles with about half the homes passed, maybe a little more in some cases.

    RICCI: I think the national average is probably 50% of the homes passed.

    GRANT: What was it back then, better or worse?

    RICCI: It was better in areas where one couldn't get any television reception without it.

    GRANT: Yeah.

    RICCI: My son Scott recently built several systems in small towns that have 80% saturation. As a matter of fact, one of his systems had about 90 + percent of saturation.

    GRANT: And that's primarily because it's not a luxury. You have to have it if you are going to have television.

    RICCI: Yes.

    GRANT: What's your view today, looking at the state of cable television? Are you pleased at what you see?

    RICCI: I think it could do a better job. I think they could do a better job of programming. I don't know what the answer is, but I don't think that they have brought enough new programming concepts to the scene. I don't think they've developed anything new. HBO is essentially movies you could have seen in the theater a year or two ago. I think it's done something for sports. There are a lot more sports available. I envision cable television having something like a national bingo game. You know that twenty million people can play. That sort of thing. I envision the day when you can really just dial a number and get a particular program or movie fed into their TV set. That day will come.

    GRANT: What do you think is holding them back?

    RICCI: Cost, probably. I think to rebuild these systems so you have two way communications will be a tremendously costly venture.

    GRANT: Ruth, when I asked that question you gave a big sigh a minute ago.

    RUTH Oh, I was just thinking that in the beginning, cable television did not have commercials. Now they are getting almost as many commercials as the broadcasters and that is disappointing. I think it is inevitable, it's almost the same. Well, HBO doesn't but a lot of the others do, don't they?

    RICCI: Yes.

    GRANT: Do you sense a change in that pioneer- entrepreneurial spirit that created cable and the people who were involved then and maybe the people who were involved in running it? Is it more of a business? I'm not saying that's bad or good, but is it more of a business now and maybe less of a frontier atmosphere?

    RICCI: Sure. A little while ago I made mention of the MBA from Harvard going into business and that's what's happening. The entrepreneurial spirit is gone; now it is strictly business. They could be running a steel plant or department stores or a cable system.

    GRANT: What direction would you like to see cable go? Where would you like to see it headed?

    RICCI: Well, it would be impossible to fulfill that dream. I'd like to see the type of people in the cable business that were in it in the early '60s, late '60s and early '50s.

    RUTH It's no longer the same type of business, so you wouldn't see those people.

    RICCI: But if those people were in it and really had something to do with it, I think you might find some more imaginative programming than we now have.

    GRANT: In many ways, cable has become a mimic of the networks. It's hard to tell USA from ABC.

    RICCI: That's exactly right. They have commercials. As a matter of fact, they use some of the same announcers and the crews. Like, in an important golf match, ESPN or USA network will carry Thursday and Friday and NBC will carry Saturday and Sunday. They use the NBC crews on Thursday and Friday, so you can't tell the difference except when the logo shows.

    GRANT: That's true. That's a good point. In your years in cable what did you find to be the most frustrating part of it?

    RICCI: Fighting the telephone company and the broadcasters. Terribly frustrating, because they had so much power.

    GRANT: Where there times when you thought you might lose that fight?

    RICCI: I think probably there were times, yeah. You know, we were extremely optimistic people as a group. I can remember testifying against the telephone company and trying to convince the judge that this behemoth had attempted to squash me. And if you don't protect me, Mr. Judge, those people are going to eat us up alive, put us out of business. That kind of fear was prevalent. In those days there were no more powerful opponents than AT&T and the networks.

    GRANT: How do you think you were able to beat them?

    RICCI: Just sheer guts and determination and persuasiveness. We mustn't forget that the Congress saw that this was a means of bringing more and better television to remote parts of the United States. The average Congressman is from a small town and he could understand the benefits of cable TV.

    GRANT: Can you imagine what your life would be like if you hadn't made that decision to try to sell more TVs?

    RICCI: I think of it often. As a matter of fact, I was just thinking about it this morning. I don't think we'd be sitting here in this lovely home and this grand community in Florida. We might still be up in New Hampshire, struggling to make a living in the retail business. Probably happy to get to Florida for two weeks in March.

    GRANT: I asked you a moment ago what the biggest frustration was. Now as you look back on things, what is the biggest joy you think you've taken from this experience?

    RICCI: Well, the thrill of being part of an extremely exciting business. Meeting a lot of wonderful people in the industry. And being able to travel all over the United States. Becoming a little bit sophisticated, as a result of it. But being a part of the cable TV business has been so rewarding.

    GRANT: When the history book is written about cable TV, what will it say about Albert Ricci?

    RICCI: I think I made a contribution. I think I envisioned some things. I pioneered a bit in the area of wide band. I think we got there before most of the cable systems in the United States got there with the wide band. I think I made a contribution in fighting the telephone company. And that I served in various capacities with the National Cable Television Association successfully.

    GRANT: Ok. I think today will ensure that they will be. Is there anything we haven't talked about that you think we should?

    RICCI: No. I made a bunch of notes and I think we covered everything.

    GRANT: Ruth?

    RUTH No, I can't think of anything at this point that we haven't covered.

    GRANT: Good.

    RICCI: You're married to one pioneer and the mother of another.

    RUTH Well, it was a fun business.

    GRANT: It seems to me that you've both enjoyed it.

    RICCI: We enjoyed it beyond words.

    End of Tape 2, Side A

  • Alfred C. Liggins, III

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Alfred C. Liggins, III

    Alfred Liggins III, CEO, Urban One; Chairman and CEO, TV One

    Alfred Liggins III

    CEO, URBAN ONE
    CHAIRMAN AND CEO,
    TV ONE

    Alfred Liggins literally grew up in media. He was seven years old when he and his mother, Cathy Hughes, moved to Washington, D.C. Hughes worked as sales manager at Howard University’s radio station, and Liggins would head to the station every day after school to do his homework. After high school, he moved to Los Angeles to work in the music business while attending night classes at UCLA. He got a job at Light Records, a gospel music company, but had his eye on secular music. Thinking he had a job lined up at Motown, he quit Light Records. That’s when he learned “my first lesson of employment: never quit the job you have until you are absolutely certain of the job you think you’re going to get.” The Motown job fell through, and Liggins was unemployed.

    Hughes convinced him to return to D.C. to work for her company, Radio One, which consisted of one station, WOL-AM. He joined Radio One as WOL’s account manager. Two years later, Hughes acquired a second station, WMMJ, and kept looking for acquisitions. Liggins worked his way up to president and treasurer as the company grew to three stations. As business partners, Liggins and Hughes made an excellent team, with him as the financial expert and her as creator of programming that served listeners’ interests.

    Before turning over control of Radio One’s operations, Hughes insisted that Liggins get an MBA. He graduated from the Wharton School of Business in 1995. On graduation day, Liggins told his mother that he planned to take Radio One public to enable larger-scale expansion. He was named CEO in 1997, with Hughes as board chair. In 1999, Radio One went public. The IPO made it possible for the company to grow quickly. Today, the Radio One network comprises 56 stations in 16 urban markets.

    The strategy of buying small, underperforming urban stations and re-focusing them to serve their communities’ demographics worked well. But Liggins credits federal diversity and minority broadcast ownership policies for helping Radio One succeed. “I’d like to say that all of our success has been because we’re brilliant operators,” he says. “But no matter how smart you are, if you don’t get an opportunity to perform, you can’t win.”

    Cable came into the picture for Liggins in 2004 with the launch of TV One in partnership with Comcast. The cable channel was just the second to offer African American entertainment, launching with 2.2 million households. TV One was designed to serve African American adults who wanted an alternative to BET. Today, TV One serves 59 million households, offering “original programming, classic series, movies and music to its diverse audience of adult black viewers.”

    Under Liggins’ leadership, Radio One continued to expand. In 2018, it was renamed Urban One and now comprises cable, radio, syndication, web, and marketing properties, the largest multi-media company in the country primarily dedicated to serving African American, urban audiences.

  • Allen Ecker

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Allen Ecker

    Ex-Vice President, Retired, Scientific-Atlanta, 2010 Cable Hall of Fame

    Allen Ecker

    In over three decades with Scientific Atlanta (SA), now a part of Cisco, Dr. Allen Ecker held executive positions leading up to Executive Vice President. During the transition from analog to digital, he was President of the Subscriber Sector, the business at SA for End-to-End Digital Video Systems and Digital Settops. Under his leadership the Subscriber Sector became the growth engine for SA. Also SA won Emmys for its role in developing MPEG Video and VOD.

    Dr. Ecker earned BEE and MSEE degrees from Georgia Tech and a PhD from Ohio State. At Georgia Tech in football, he was 1st Team All SEC and Academic All America, and 2nd Team All America. He was chosen for the 2007 Total Person Former Student-Athlete Award at Georgia Tech. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Tech Foundation and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Engineering Hall of Fame and the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame. Most recently he was the recipient of the Joseph Mayo Petit Alumni Distinguished Service Award, Georgia Tech's highest Alumni Award for lifetime leadership in his profession and in the community.

    In 1995 Dr. Ecker was selected "Innovator of the Year" by the Southeaster Cable Television Association for leadership in digital video technology and in 1999 he was inducted into the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia for significant contributions to the high tech community. In 2004 he received an Award for Leadership in Interactive Television at the NCTA National Conference and in 2005 he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovation by the Atlanta Telecom Professionals. Dr. Ecker is a Fellow in the IEEE, has over 80 major publications and has chaired industry technical and standards committees. He is well known in the telecommunications industry as a leader and spokesman.

  • Amos B. Hostetter

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Amos B. Hostetter

    Former Chairman and CEO, Continental Cablevision, 1999 Cable Hall of Fame

    Amos B. Hostetter

    [cable] is one important tool in the telecommunication process which can help us both find new combinations to answer existing educational and social needs. We should get on with the business of doing just that.

    Amos Hostetter was working in investment banking when he met broker and cable industry pioneer Bill Daniels in 1962. Both were assisting with a system acquisition in Keane, NH. Not long after that meeting, Hostetter decided to become an operator himself. In 1963, he convinced Harvard classmate Irv Grousbeck to join him, and the two pored over U.S. broadcast signal maps to find markets that might be receptive to cable systems. Grousbeck visited several small Ohio towns before settling on Tiffin and Fostoria. The partners later moved there, personifying what would become a Continental Cablevision trademark: decentralized management that sought to make decisions as close to the customer as possible.

    Continental Cablevision's initial growth came through winning rural and suburban franchises. The company designed and constructed more than 90 percent of the systems it operated and later accelerated its growth through acquisitions, including the systems owned by McClatchy Newspapers, the Providence Journal Co. and American Cablesystems.

    While subscriber ranks swelled, Hostetter maintained his individualistic, iconoclastic approach. He kept the company private, buying back a stake previously sold to Dow Jones. Grousbeck left in 1980 to teach at Harvard (and now teaches at Stanford). Continental never abandoned its guiding principles of decentralized management.

    After maintaining Continental's fiercely independent status for more than 30 years, Hostetter engineered its 1996 sale to MediaOne for $11.7 billion. It made him one of America's richest men and turned 80 of his long-term employees into millionaires, but after MediaOne went back on its pledge not to move its headquarters from Boston to Denver, Hostetter quit in anger. "I did business until I was 61 years old on a handshake and my word," he told a friend. "It took me until this to be undone by it. I was so angry I was cross-eyed."

    Now with his AT&T alliance to purchase MediaOne, Hostetter has returned triumphant. "Nice guys don't always finish last. They can come back and finish first, and maybe that's the lesson of the AT&T deal," says Jim Robbins, president and CEO of Cox Communications, who worked at Continental from 1974 to 1979.

    Although the MediaOne fracas sidelined him from cable's day-to-day activities for more than a year, Hostetter has reveled in the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and three children.

    In additions, Hostetter contributes generously but anonymously to a number of charitable and educational organizations.

    With Hostetter in the industry as non-executive vice chairman of AT&T Broadband & Internet Services, it's plain that many of his peers are quietly gratified, not only at his victory in regaining his company, but at their industry's reunion with one of its most effective leaders.

  • Amos B. Hostetter Jr. : 2016 Bresnan Award Honoree

    Amos B. Hostetter Jr.  2016 Bresnan Award Honoree

    Amos Hostetter

    Chairman
    Pilot House Associates, L.L.C.

    Amos B. Hostetter, Jr. of Boston is Chairman, Pilot House Associates, L.L.C.; Co-founder, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Continental Cablevision, Inc.; Former Director of AT&T; Former Board Member and Chairman of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA); Founding Board Member and Former Chairman of C-SP AN and Cable in the Classroom; Former Board Member of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB). Children's Television Workshop (CTW), the Nantucket Conservation Foundation and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Recipient of the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award; Inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame and Broadcasting magazine's Hall of Fame for lifetime contribution to the Communications Industry.

    Currently, Hostetter is Chair Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of WGBH and of Amherst College, Chair of Global Post, LLC and is a Trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the North Bennet Street School and Belmont Hill School. He is a Former Member of the Vestry of Trinity Church, Boston.

    Mr. Hostetter received a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

     

  • Ann Rallis Carlsen

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Ann Rallis Carlsen

    Founder and CEO, Carlsen Resources, Inc., 2012 Cable Hall of Fame

    carlsenAnne

    As Founder and CEO of the cable industry's leading executive search firm for 23 years and a 32-year cable veteran, Ann Rallis Carlsen's impact has been profound. With more than 2,000 executives placed in senior positions, Carlsen Resources is recognized for helping to shape the cable industry by building its leadership ranks in all key areas. Ann is a respected thought leader on the 21st century workplace, a passionate advocate of diversity, and a mentor, confidant, and advisor to leaders in every facet of the cable industry.

    Ann's career began in 1980 in sales and marketing with United Cable, followed by executive positions at Cardiff Publishing's Cable Television Business Magazine and at Business Venture Investments. She realized her calling for executive search as vice president of Winston Management Group. In 1989 she founded Future Sense, Inc., which later became Carlsen Resources, Inc.

    Ann's industry honors include:

    • NCTA Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership, the organization's most prestigious award
    • WICT Woman of the Year
    • NAMIC L. Patrick Mellon Award for her role as the architect of NAMIC's successful mentorship program
    • WICT Rita Ellix Accolade, for personal and professional excellence and committed mentoring of women

    Ann also served as President of the national WICT organization and as Chair of the WICT Foundation. She was a key member of NAMIC's board for the better part of a decade , and served on national committees for CTAM and NCTA.

    Ann is a graduate of the University of Colorado. She lives in Grand Junction, Colorado with her husband and three children.

  • Anne Sweeney

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Anne Sweeney

    President, Disney-ABC Television Group, 2007 Cable Hall of Fame

    sweeneyAnne

    A pioneer of cable television and leader among TV executives worldwide, Anne Sweeney is co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, where she is responsible for The Walt Disney Company's entertainment and news television properties globally. The group includes the ABC Television Network, which provides entertainment, news and kids programming to viewers via 228 affiliated stations across the U.S. in addition to other technological platforms. ABC series, many of which are produced by ABC Studios, are distributed to more than 200 territories across the globe by Disney-ABC Worldwide Television.

    Ms. Sweeney also oversees Disney Channel Worldwide, which includes Disney Channel, Playhouse Disney, Toon Disney and Jetix, as well as Radio Disney and Walt Disney Television Animation, a TV animation studio. Today Disney Channel reaches more than 90 million U.S. homes and 500 million homes in 127 countries worldwide. Ms. Sweeney also manages cable networks ABC Family and SOAPnet, which reach more than 90 and 60 million U.S. homes, respectively, as well as Disney's equity interest in Lifetime Entertainment Services and A&E Television Network.

    Ms. Sweeney joined the company in 1996 as president of Disney Channel and executive vice president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks. She was promoted to president of the division and Disney Channel Worldwide in 2000, and to her current position in 2004.

    Previously Ms. Sweeney was chairman and CEO of FX Networks, Inc. She spent 12 years before that at Nickelodeon in various executive positions.

    An inductee of Broadcasting & Cable's Hall of Fame, Ms. Sweeney was named one of Fortune Magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women in October 2006. She is a board member of Lifetime Television, the Museum of Television & Radio, the Special Olympics, and is an honorary chair of Cable Positive.

    Ms. Sweeney, who holds degrees from The College of New Rochelle and Harvard University, resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

  • Balan Nair

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Balan Nair

    Balan Nair

    President & CEO, Liberty Latin America

    Balan Nair is president and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Latin America. Liberty Latin America is an integrated telecommunications company, focused on the Caribbean Islands and Latin America.

    Balan is an experienced and proven business executive with more than 20 years in the telecommunications industry. He has been a part of the Liberty family of companies since 2007, when he joined Liberty Global as its Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. He most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer. In this role, he was responsible for overseeing Liberty Global’s worldwide network, as well as Technology and Innovation operations, including Product Development, IT, Network Operations, Mobile Operations and Global Supply Chain functions. He was also responsible for Corporate Strategy and Venture investments. Balan was an executive officer of Liberty Global and sat on Liberty Global’s Executive Leadership Team and the Investment Committee.

    Prior to joining Liberty Global, Balan served as Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President for AOL LLC, a global web services company, from 2006. Prior to his role at AOL LLC, he spent more than 12 years at Qwest Communications International Inc., most recently as Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer.

    Balan has a long history of working in the telco industry, the web world and now the cable and media industry. He sits on the boards of Charter Communications, a leading cable operator in the United States, Liberty Latin America and Adtran Corporation. He graduated from Iowa State University, with a Masters in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He holds a patent in systems development and is a Licensed Professional Engineer in Colorado.

  • Barbara York

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Barbara York

    Senior Vice President, NCTA, 2007 Cable Hall of Fame

    yorkBarbara

    Barbara York is Senior Vice President, Industry Affairs at NCTA which is the principal trade association for the cable television industry. York is responsible for planning and execution of the annual NCTA Convention and Exposition - the largest convention for the cable industry. Her department also provides support for NCTA special events as well as other industry-wide events such as the annual Kaitz Fundraising Dinner and the Leaders in Learning Awards.

    York joined NCTA in 1981 as Vice President, Administration. In 1984, she left to serve as Vice President of Corporate Relations and Administration for NABU: The Home Computer Network. She returned to NCTA in 1985 as Vice President for Industry Affairs. From 1994 to 1998, in addition to her Industry Affairs responsibilities, she also served as Executive Director of the National Academy of Cable Programming which conducted the annual National and Local CableACE Awards; and from 2000 to 2005, she also served as Chief Administrative Officer for the association.

    Prior to joining NCTA, York was Director, Media Relations and Internal Affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers of America which is the major trade association for the food and grocery manufacturing industry.

    York currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Cable Center. She has also served on Board of Directors of CTAM and on the Board of Trustees for Trinity University in Washington, D.C.

    In 2007, York was inducted into the Cable Center Hall of Fame, the Cable Television Pioneers and was named Cable TV Executive of the Year by Television Week. In 2006, she received the NCTA's President's Award. She was also recognized in the 2002 class of Wonder Women by Multichannel News and Women in Cable & Telecommunications.

    She is a 1972 graduate from Trinity College in Washington D.C.

  • Ben Conroy

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Ben Conroy - 2001 Cable Hall of Fame Honoree

    Founder, Uvalde Television Cable Corporation, 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

    conroyBenjamin

    ...the provision of cable service to a community is a very, very personal thing....I think it's a very personal and important service that we render and we've got to take it very seriously...That's all part of your appearance in the community. I think it's important to tell people how you feel about the service...

    A cable industry pioneer, and enthusiastic jazz pianist, Ben Conroy has had a multi-faceted career. After receiving an Engineering degree from the US Naval Academy and serving in the Navy, he entered the cable industry in 1954 when he founded Uvalde Television Cable Corporation in Uvalde, Texas. For much of the next three decades, Conroy held ownership and senior management positions in GenCoe, a holding company operating cable systems in six states and in CPI, a holding company operating cable systems in eleven states (1966-1979). In 1979 he established Conroy Management Services, Inc., which provided cable companies in Texas with management services in areas of administration, operations, engineering, sales promotion and finance.

    Early on, Conroy realized the importance of industry associations. He was a founder and the first president of the Texas CATV Association and was involved with NCTA in a number of capacities, including secretary, member of the board of directors and served as their tenth national chairman from 1965-1966. He received several NCTA honors including the Advertising Award, the Larry Boggs Award and the Interindustry Relations Award. Regionally, he received the John E. Mankin Award from the Texas Cable TV Association. He was also the Chairperson of the Cable TV Pioneer Managing Board from 1968 - 1993. Conroy was also instrumental in the beginning and early development of The Cable Center, where he served as the first Chairman of Board of Directors of The Center when it was at Pennsylvania State University.

    Benjamin J. Conroy Jr. was born on October 28, 1923 in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. From 1941-1944 he attended Brooklyn College, Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1948 he received a B.S. Degree in Engineering from the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1954 and saw active duty during World War II and Korea. After his discharge in October of 1954, he was in the US Naval Reserve until 1969 when he retired as a Lieutenant Commander.

    On Feb. 4, 1956 he married Antoinette (Toni) Olwell and they had seven children, Kate, Toni, Pat, Anne Therese, Sloan, Megan, and Ben III.

  • Bernard Shaw

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Bernard Shaw

    CNN Anchor Emeritus, 2009 Cable Hall of Fame

    shawBernard

    On February 28, 2001, Bernard Shaw stepped back from his daily routine as Cable News Network's (CNN's) Principal Anchor, ending his co-anchoring duties on Inside Politics—the nation's only daily program devoted exclusively to political news, airing weekdays at 5:00PM (ET)—with Judy Woodruff.

    Shaw is stepping back to write books, including his autobiography; to tend to his garden; and, as he puts it, to "give back to my wifely friend LINDA, her husband, and to our adult daughter and son, their father." His so doing brings to an end nearly four decades of an illustrious broadcast career.

    On January 16, 1991, Shaw was one of three CNN reporters who captivated a worldwide audience of more than one billion with continuous coverage of the first night of the Allied Forces' bombing of Baghdad during "Operation Desert Storm." Shaw was in the Iraqi capital to update his exclusive interview with President Saddam Hussein conducted in October 1990.

    As a result of that unprecedented coverage, Shaw received numerous international as well as national awards and honors. In July 1991, he received the Eduard Rhein Foundation's Cultural Journalistic Award, marking the first time that the Foundation presented this award to a non-German. Later that year—in October—the Italian government honored him with its President's Award, presented to those leaders who have actively contributed to development, innovation, and cooperation. In December, Shaw was the recipient of the coveted 1991 David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication from Barry University (Miami, FL).

    As part of CNN's team to cover the outbreak of the Gulf War, Shaw also received the 1990 George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award for distinguished service and the 1991 Golden Award for Cable Excellence (ACE)—the cable industry's most prestigious award—from the National Academy of Cable Programming. Shaw personally received the ACE for Best Newscaster of the Year. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented him its 1991 Chairman's Award for Outstanding Journalistic Excellence in January 1992.

    As part of CNN's team covering the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK—the second-worst act of terrorism in U.S. history, Shaw received the 1996 National Association of Television Arts and Sciences' News and Documentary Emmy Award for Instant Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story.

    In April 1997, Shaw and the CNN team were presented the 1996 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best TV Interpretation or Documentary on Foreign Affairs by the Overseas Press Club of America for CNN Presents . . . Back to Baghdad.

    Shaw's reporting/anchoring has taken him to 46 countries spanning five continents. He has been elected a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ)—the highest distinction the Society gives to journalists for public service. In June 1995, he was inducted into the SPJ Hall of Fame. In October 1996, Shaw received the 1996 Paul White Life Achievement Award from the Radio-Television News Directors' Association—one of the industry's most distinguished awards. One month later, he and his co-anchor JUDY WOODRUFF garnered the 1996 ACE for Best Newscaster of the Year for Inside Politics. In April 1997, he was inducted into the Chicago Journalists Hall of Fame. In September 1997, he was the inaugural recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's Tex McCrary Award for Journalism, which honors the distinguished achievements of those in the field of journalism. In June 1999, he was named an inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame for having made "signal contributions to those media and industries." In February 2001, the Anti-Defamation League bestowed upon him its Hubert H. Humphrey First Amendment Freedoms Prize, presented to "those who have made significant and lasting contributions to the protection and advancement of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment." In March 2001, he was awarded the Pioneer in Broadcasting Award for a lifetime of achievement by the National Association of Blacks in Broadcasting (NABOB). The following month, he was presented the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award by the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University—his idol's alma mater. In October 2001, he was presented the Douglas Edwards Award by St. Bonaventure University (NY) for a lifetime of journalistic achievement.

    In February 2002, DiGamma Kappa honored Shaw with its Distinguished Achievement Award in Broadcasting; DiGamma Kappa is the nation's oldest professional broadcasting society, founded at the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, home of the Peabody Awards. In May 2002, Shaw was invested as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois, the highest honor the state can bestow on persons who were born or have resided in Illinois. He was inducted into the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame in May 2006, joining Oscar® winner Denzel Washington and other noted alumni featured in the bestselling A Hand to Guide Me. In 2007, the National Association of Black Journalists again honored Shaw, saluting him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Among his other honors: the 1997 Candle in Journalism Award from Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA; the 1997 Trumpet Award from Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.; the 1995 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism from the National Press Foundation; the 1994 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and Telecommunication from Arizona State University; the 1994 Best Newscaster of the Year ACE for Prime News; the 1994 William Allen White Medallion for Distinguished Service from the University of Kansas; the 1994 National Headliner Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews – Miami Region; the 1993 Best Newscaster of the Year ACE for Inside Politics '92; the 1993 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); the 1992 Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri; and the 1992 Emmy Award—National News and Documentary Competition awarded to CNN. He was also one of the select Alfred M. Landon Lecturers at Kansas State University in 1992.

    In 1988, Shaw received the Lowell Thomas Electronic Journalist Award and the ACE for Best News Anchor from the National Academy of Cable Programming.

    Shaw anchored much of the network's special events coverage, including the handover of Hong Kong to China at the stroke of midnight, June 30, 1997, and the funeral of DIANA, Princess of Wales, on August 30, 1997. On January 17, 1994, he was the first correspondent/anchor to break the news of the major earthquake—measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale—in Los Angeles, CA, where he happened to be for another assignment. He was on the air eight minutes after the earthquake struck at 4:31AM (PT).

    Shaw also covered major political events, including primaries, party conventions, debates, and national election nights. In October 2000, he moderated the sole vice presidential debate, held at Centre College in Danville, KY. In February 1992, he moderated the third Democratic presidential candidates' debate, held just two days before the nation's first presidential primary in Manchester, NH. He was moderator of the second presidential debate held during October 1988 in Los Angeles; he was co-moderator of the April 1988 debate among Democratic presidential candidates on the eve of the New York primary.

    In July 1993, Shaw anchored CNN's live coverage of President Clinton's first Economic Summit from Tokyo. Covering such summits live was not new to Shaw, who had previously anchored on-site all of the Bush-Gorbachev/Yeltsin Summits—from Helsinki, Malta, and Moscow, to Washington, DC. He also anchored from Red Square in Moscow during the 28th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in July 1990.

    In the summer of 1989, Shaw covered President Bush's first trip to Eastern Europe and then to Paris for the Economic Summit.

    Before covering the 40th anniversary NATO Summit in May 1989, in Brussels, Shaw had just finished 30 hours of live coverage of the historic student demonstrations in the heart of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. He brought leading coverage of the events to the United States and around the world with continuous reporting; he fought to extend air time when the Chinese government ordered CNN to discontinue its telecast.

    Shaw was one of only two network anchors in China when the demonstrations began, and his work garnered considerable acclaim. He received the 1990 ACE for Best News Anchor and the 1989 National Association of Television Arts and Sciences' News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Coverage of a Single Breaking News Story – Anchor. He was awarded the Gold Medal for Best News Anchor at the 32nd annual International Film and TV Festival of New York as well as the Journalist of the Year for 1989 by the National Association of Black Journalists.

    CNN received numerous awards for its coverage of China, including the Golden ACE, a Silver Baton from the Alfred I. DuPont – Columbia University Awards, the George Foster Peabody Award, the National Headliner Award for Outstanding Coverage of a Spot News Event by a TV Network, and an Overseas Press Club Award.

    Shaw traveled to Japan in February 1989 to anchor CNN's extensive coverage of Emperor HIROHITO's funeral. He also anchored coverage of the 1988 Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in Moscow. In December 1987, Shaw was one of the four network anchors to interview President Reagan on the eve of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Summit in Washington, DC; he anchored coverage of that summit as well. He also covered their superpower summit in Geneva in 1985.

    Shaw was a member of the CNN anchor team from the network's inception in 1980. Previously, he was with ABC News as Senior Capitol Hill Correspondent, reporting extensively on the economy. Shaw also filed special reports during the 1979 hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran. His first assignment with ABC News was as Latin American correspondent and bureau chief. In that capacity, he was one of the first reporters to file a story from Guyana on the mass suicides at Jonestown and covered the overthrow of General SOMOZA in Nicaragua.

    From 1971 to 1977, Shaw was a correspondent in the Washington Bureau of CBS News. A journalistic coup during that period was his exclusive interview with Attorney General JOHN MITCHELL at the height of the Watergate crisis.

    Before joining CBS News, Shaw served as a reporter for Westinghouse Broadcasting Company's Group W, based first in Chicago, and later in Washington, as White House correspondent. He began his career in 1964 as an anchor/reporter for WNUS-Chicago, one of the nation's first all-news radio stations.

    Shaw studied history at the University of Illinois. On April 27, 1991, the University of Illinois Foundation announced the establishment of the Bernard Shaw Endowment Fund, creating scholarships at the University's Chicago campus in his honor. Shaw has personally contributed more than $300,000 to the Fund—his way of "giving back" some of what has been given to him. The unrestricted grants are awarded annually to qualified students needing financial aid, with preference given to minority and women liberal arts majors who best represent those values and interests exemplified by Shaw. In May 1993, the University awarded Shaw an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his outstanding contributions and endeavors. He also holds honorary doctorates from Northeastern University in Boston, MA (1994), and Francis Marion College in Florence, SC (1985).

    A Chicago native, Shaw and his wife Linda reside in Takoma Park, MD.

  • Bill Bresnan

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Bill Bresnan

    Former Chairman and CEO, Bresnan Communications, 2000 Cable Hall of Fame

    bresnanBill

    Bill Bresnan, a native of Mankato, Minnesota, was drawn to electronics at an early age when a local broadcast engineer taught him how to fix radios.  After studying engineering following high school, Bill took a sales position with an electronics wholesaler.  While selling supplies to a start-up cable TV service in Mankato he watched and learned as the company built the system, acquiring expert knowledge of cable technology. In 1958 he assumed the position of chief engineer for the Rochester, MN cable franchise, marking the beginning of his career in cable.  By the close of the decade he had designed and built several cable systems in the region.

    When entrepreneur Jack Kent Cooke purchased the Rochester system in 1965, Bill joined the Cooke executive team and a long and successful professional relationship between the two men was born.  After a series of transactions, Cooke’s holdings were merged with Teleprompter Corporation, then the largest cable company in the U.S.  Bill served as President of Teleprompter’s Cable Television Division from 1974 to 1981.  In 1981, Westinghouse Electric purchased Teleprompter, and he became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the new company, Group W Cable, Inc.
     
    By 1984, Bill Bresnan had spent half of his life in cable and had held every top position but one.  That changed when he left Group W and founded his own company, Bresnan Communications, in partnership with TeleCommunications, Inc. (TCI).  The new company acquired systems in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and ultimately Nebraska, all primarily in small and mid-sized markets. When that package of systems was sold to Charter Communications in 2000, Bill remained in the business exploring potential new ventures.  In 2003 he acquired a group of systems in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Utah in partnership with Comcast Corporation, again in small and mid-sized markets.  

    Throughout his career, Bill Bresnan has played a leadership role in the cable television industry.  He has testified before the FCC and U.S. congressional committees on a wide range of communications and copyright issues.  Known as one of the cable industry’s leading contributors to technological advancement, he played a major role in the development of the first domestic satellite transmission as well as the country’s first commercial fiber optic communications system.  In 1981, he was the recipient of the National Cable Telecommunications Association’s prestigious Larry Boggs Award (now the Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership) for outstanding contributions to the industry, and in 1987 he was honored with the Cable Television Public Affairs Association’s President’s Award.  In 1999, his numerous contributions to the industry were acknowledged when he received one of cable’s highest honors, the Walter Kaitz Foundation’s Partnership in Diversity Award.  In the spring of 2000, he was inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame.  In May of 2000, he received the Stanley B. Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Minorities in Communications.  In November of 2000, he also was inducted into Broadcasting and Cable magazine’s Hall of Fame.
     
    Bill served for over 35 years on the Board of Directors of the National Cable Telecommunications Association.  He is currently the Chairman of The Cable Center in Denver, Chairman of the Executive Committee and a member of the Board of Directors of C-SPAN, and a Board member of Cable Television Laboratories, Cable TV Pioneers, and Cable Positive.  A supporter of diversity in the workplace, he is also a member of the Board of Directors of The Emma Bowen Foundation, which promotes employment opportunities in media for economically disadvantaged minority students.  Previously, he was the Chairman of CablePAC and has served on the Boards of Directors of Cable in the Classroom and the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau.  A firm believer in the advancement of women throughout the industry, Bill Bresnan is an honorary lifetime member of Women in Cable and Telecommunications.

    For more photos see: archive.cablecenter.org

  • Bill Daniels

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Bill Daniels - 1998 Cable Hall of Fame Honoree

    Founder, former President, CEO and Chairman, Daniels & Associates, 1998 Cable Hall of Fame

    danielsBill

    If there is any reason for them to call me the 'Father of Cable Television,' I would think it would be because I was the first guy to recognize it as a hell of a potential business, and I brought the financial community in to really make it a business...

    Bill Daniels brought TV to Casper, Wyoming becoming the first community antenna operator to use microwave links to import signals from a distant city, in this case Denver, 200 miles away. He would build more systems and serve for a year as president of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), an organization he'd helped found.

    During his travels as NCTA president, Bill Daniels would realize that community antenna operators all over the U.S. needed two things: help starting, buying and selling systems, and financing to accomplish their goals. In 1958, after settling in Denver, he formed Daniels & Associates, a company that not only brokered cable systems, but also helped entrepreneurs get started in the business, providing management and engineering expertise in exchange for a percentage of the system's equity.

    By 1988, Daniels' cable operating company ranked among the top 25 multiple system operators in the United States. Daniels merged all but two of the systems, both located in California, with United Artists Communications in order to focus on his brokerage and investment banking businesses and on Prime Ticket Network, a Los Angeles regional sports service. He would later partner with Tele-Communications Inc., in creating Prime Network, owner of a string of regional sports networks around the U.S.

    Later in his career, Daniels would pursue a variety of philanthropic ventures, including establishment of the Young Americans Bank, the first chartered bank in the U.S. dedicated to providing a hands-on learning experience to children and young adults. In November 1988, he presented the largest gift ever awarded to the University of Denver, an $11 million grant to help revamp the school's master of business program to include new required courses on ethics, integrity, demeanor, communications, negotiations, manners and social involvement. At Daniels' suggestion, the school polled U.S. businesses, asking for feedback on the graduates it was turning out. Poll results convinced the university to revamp its business curriculum, integrating courses on marketing, finance, accounting and other disciplines so students graduating in any one field would be conversant in the others.

    Today, Daniels & Associates continues to rank as one of the leading media brokerage/investment banks in the United States.

  • Bob Magness

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Bob Magness

    Founder, former President and Chairman, Tele-Communications, Inc., 1998 Cable Hall of Fame

    Bob Magness

    I picked up some characters one night down at the cotton gin...they had lost their ride...I visited with them...they had just built their first cable system. The next morning, I went down and talked to those folks...In 30-40 days, I was in the business.

    The founder of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), Bob Magness, began his career as a cottonseed salesman and part-time cattle rancher after graduating from Southwestern State College in Wetherford, Oklahoma. During a visit to a cotton gin one evening in 1956, he met two men who were having car trouble and needed a ride to the nearest town. Magness offered to help and during the 30-mile drive, heard all about the new business the men were building, a community antenna system in nearby Paducah, Texas.

    Intrigued, Magness drove back to Paducah a week later, found the two men and picked their brains some more. Encouraged by his wife Betsy, Magness sold the cattle, mortgaged their home and borrowed $2500 from his father to raise capital for the couple's first community antenna system, in Memphis, Texas. Magness strung wires while Betsy kept the books.

    Two years later, the Magnesses sold that first system and began looking for an opportunity to reinvest. A cable operator and broker named Bill Daniels showed them a community antenna system in Bozeman, Montana, and in partnership with another television entrepreneur, the Magnesses bought the system and later built six more in the area, reaching more than 12,000 homes.

    By 1965, Daniels had convinced the Magnesses they needed to run their companies, which now included Community Television Inc., the cable company, and Western Microwave Inc., a microwave common carrier, from a more centralized city. They relocated to Denver and in 1968, combined their two companies into Tele-Communications Inc.

    In 1972 Magness hired John Malone of Jerrold Electronics to help him restructure TCI's finances. Magness and Malone had adjoining offices. Together, Magness and Malone would build TCI into one of the most influential media companies in the world. Along the way, they'd help to finance numerous affiliated companies, including Discovery Communications, Black Entertainment Television Inc. and Encore Media.

    Even as he built his cable empire, Magness kept up his life as a rancher. He'd bought his first Arabian horse after World War II and later in his life he raised and bred horses on a ranch in Colorado and another in California. He also raised and bred a prize-winning herd of Limosin cattle, a breed known for its vigor and low fat.

    At the same time, he was a sought-after board member, serving as a trustee of the University of Denver, the Denver Art Museum, the National Western Stock Show Association and the Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He and his wife, Sharon, whom he married after Betsy died in 1985, were also highly active in local charities.

  • Bob Stanzione

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO ORAL HISTORIES

    Bob Stanzione

    Bob Stanzione

    Interview Date: November 30, 2017
    Interview Location: New York, NY USA
    Interviewer: Seth Arenstein
    Collection: Cable Center Oral History Program

    Seth ARENSTEIN:        Hi, I’m Seth Arenstein, for the Hauser Oral History Project for The Cable Center. We’re here in New York City. It’s November 30th, 2017. And we’re joined by the executive chairman of ARRIS International, Bob Stanzione. Bob, welcome.

    Robert J. STANZIONE: Thank you, Seth.

    ARENSTEIN:    Good to have you here.

    STANZIONE:    I’m happy to be here.

    ARENSTEIN:    All right. So tell us -- let’s begin your story at the beginning. Where were you born and where did you go to grammar school?

    STANZIONE:    OK. Well, here we are in New York, and that’s where I started.

    ARENSTEIN:    Really?

    STANZIONE:    I was born in the Bronx, a little bit north of here. My grandparents were immigrants from Italy, and my parents were born in the US. And I went through first grade in the Bronx, in the public schools. And then through a job change that happened with my dad we moved to Virginia and subsequently to South Carolina, where I went to junior high and high school and went to college in South Carolina, at Clemson University -- national champions right now.

    ARENSTEIN:    Tigers?

    STANZIONE:    Football, right. Yes. Very proud of that.

    ARENSTEIN:    Yeah, because, I mean, you don’t have a Bronx accent, Bob.

    STANZIONE:    No, I don’t. Somewhere along the way I lost that.

    ARENSTEIN:    (laughs) Yes. I would say it’s South Bronx. No, no, no -- really -- the Deep South.

    STANZIONE:    Right.

    ARENSTEIN:    I always think of you as a Southern guy. I mean, Clemson and North Carolina and everything.

    STANZIONE:    That’s right. That’s right, I do -- my heart is in the South.

    ARENSTEIN:    OK. But born in the Bronx.

    STANZIONE:    Right.

    ARENSTEIN:    So it’s good to be home. What did you study in college?

    STANZIONE:    I studied engineering. I was a mechanical engineering major, and I had always wanted to be an engineer. My dad was in the manufacturing business during his career. He passed away when I was a freshman at college. And I finished up at Clemson, and I went to work in the Bell System for a long period of time. During that period of time I went back to school and at night and got a Master of Engineering degree at NC State University.

    ARENSTEIN:    Do you root for them too or just Clemson?

    STANZIONE:    No, I don’t. (laughter) No, I don’t. You can only have one.

    ARENSTEIN:    It’s always interesting to know, like the graduate and undergraduate, which one do you, you know...

    STANZIONE:    No, it’s Clemson through and through.

    ARENSTEIN:    OK. You know, people watching this even now -- young people watching this -- and even years from now, when you mentioned the Bell System, they’re going to go, “What’s that?” Why don’t you tell us what the Bell System was when you walked in the door?

    STANZIONE:    So I graduated from college in 1969. And at that time the Bell System ran the entire communications systems in the United States. It consisted of the Bell telephone companies as well as Bell Laboratories, the long lines, long-distance business, as well as a company called Western Electric, which was the manufacturing arm of the Bell System. And that’s where I began my career was in manufacturing. And during that period of time I believe the Bell System had over a million employees across the country. In the late 1970s an antitrust suit was brought forth, and the Bell System was broken up, beginning in 1984. And at that point I stayed with the manufacturing side of AT&T -- it was called AT&T Network Systems -- and worked there for a total of about 26 years.

    ARENSTEIN:    And what did you do at AT&T?

    STANZIONE:    One of the great things about working at AT&T in a big company like that was that you could change jobs and gain experience in different facets of the business without changing companies. And so I was privileged to be able to do that, although it was a bit of a burden on my family. I should talk a little bit about my family right here at the beginning.

    ARENSTEIN:    Sure. Absolutely.

    STANZIONE:    I met my wife Kaye in junior high school, down in South Carolina. And we got married while I was in college. And so when I joined AT&T in 1969, we began a period of time where we were moving a lot. People don’t do that so much anymore. But in the ’70s and ’80s it was quite common for employees of large corporations to be moved from location to location. So during the 26 years that we were in AT&T, Kaye and I and our three children moved 11 times from one place to another. And they were tremendously supportive of that, and I’m very fortunate that I had such a supportive cast around me during that period of time.

    ARENSTEIN:    That’s nice. And so what -- again, what sorts of things were you doing at AT&T?

    STANZIONE:    Well, you know, one -- I was in manufacturing, so we were manufacturing things for the Defense Department initially. And then printed circuit boards and devices, hybrid integrated circuits, which aren’t used very much anymore. But towards the end of that period of time, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, I became associated with the cable industry. There was a skunkworks project going on at Bell Labs in Merrimack Valley. I had been transferred up to Merrimack Valley, north of Boston, in 1989, and I inherited a skunkworks project called Laser Link. This is where I became acquainted with the cable industry. I was fascinated by it and kind of fell in love with it. At the time that wasn’t a very popular thing within AT&T, because we were serving primarily the Bell telephone companies, and they viewed the cable industry as sort of a competitor and not up to snuff in terms of the reliability of the network that they had at the time. But I met some very interesting people in those last years that I spent at AT&T Network Systems. John Egan is a person that was very instrumental in my life, and he was the CEO of a company called ANTEC. And because AT&T did not want to sell Laser Link directly to the cable companies they used ANTEC as a distributor to sell to the cable companies. And that’s where I met John Egan, who, again, was very instrumental in what happened to me subsequent to this. I also met people like John Malone and J.C. Sparkman and Larry Romrell, and others, people that were kind of the titans of the industry at the time. And I was sort of the -- a junior executive at AT&T. And I was one of the few people at AT&T that had any interest or knowledge of what was going on in the cable industry. So those were some pretty heady days for me. And it kind of set me on a path that brought me to where I am today.

    ARENSTEIN:    And what fascinated you about the cable industry? I guess meeting John Malone would be one thing (laughs) for sure!

    STANZIONE:    Well, I’ll tell you, I’ll never forget the meeting we had with John Malone at Bell Labs at Murray Hill. We were preparing for his visit, and I looked at his biography, and I found out that he had worked for Bell Labs at one time. And so we dug through the archives and we found a document that he had authored. I think the title of it was something like “Profit Optimization in a Regulated Industry.” Oy. (laughter) Was that a preview of what was to come. So, you know, we went through that, and I became more and more interested in what was going on in the cable industry. Because things were happening fast in the cable industry. In those days, the late ’80s, early ’90s, we were just beginning to deploy fiber optics. I met the engineering head at Time Warner Cable at the time, Jim Chiddix --

    ARENSTEIN:    Yeah, sure.

    STANZIONE:    -- and Jim bought our first Laser Link and deployed hybrid fiber-coax for the first time in Orlando, Florida. Jim subsequently won an Emmy award, a technical Emmy award. And that Laser Link that we built at Merrimack Valley I think is on the wall in his office right now. So again, another one of the industry leaders that I met during those days.

    ARENSTEIN:    Wow. What in particular, though, was fascinating about the cable industry at that point? You said it was moving very fast. What did you see as its potential? Why were you so anxious to get in there?

    STANZIONE:    Right. So as I said, this was sort of a skunkworks at AT&T, at Bell Labs. And I had an organization that covered a lot of different facets, and this was just one of them. And we were working on access technology, the last mile, the technology for delivering video, voice, and subsequently data services over that last mile. And so we were working with the telephone companies -- we were working with Deutsche Telekom over in Germany on fiber-to-the-home technology. And I had the privilege, again, of having some very, very smart people and we did a study, looking at the potential for network evolution of these various different technologies. Now, this is early ’90s. And we were looking at fiber to the home; we were looking at hybrid fiber-coax; we were looking at switched digital video technologies. And I realized, based on those studies, that hybrid fiber-coax, although at the time was very new and certainly fiber to the home was the headline product, but this hybrid fiber-coax thing looked to me like the most graceful and economical way to expand a network. Now, at that time, it was mostly a one-way network. And there wasn’t much telemetry in the network. In those days when cable went out, the way the cable company found out about it was their customers would call and say, “My cable’s out.” Things have changed a lot since then. And now we’ve got this wonderful two-way communication system. But I could see that that was the way to go. And in fact during that period of time -- this is a funny story -- an interesting story -- I think, from my point of view as to what’s happened in my career -- at that time there was a company called General Instrument that was one of the primary vendors to the cable industry. I became acquainted with General Instrument through the specification-setting negotiations for high-definition television. This all was happening in the early ’90s -- digital television, high-definition television. And I was involved in that and met these people at General Instrument. At the time General Instrument had gone private, and they were about to do an IPO. And I suggested to AT&T that we acquire General Instrument into AT&T Network Systems. I said, “This is a transmission technology, and it would be a great asset for AT&T to own.” Well, that didn’t go very far. I took the proposal to my boss, he took it to his boss, it stopped there, and that was that. Many, many years later, in 2013, as the CEO of ARRIS at the time, we bought General Instrument. And the way it happened was that -- I’m skipping forward now --

    ARENSTEIN:    That’s OK.

    STANZIONE:    -- twenty years -- but the way it happened was that in 2013 Google purchased Motorola, or the part of Motorola that made telephones as well -- or cell phones -- as well as the Motorola Home business, which was the old General Instrument corporation. Google bought that because they wanted the patents. And so they sold off the Motorola Home, which was General Instrument, and we bought that. So 20 years -- it took 20 years to do it, but persistence pays off. Persistence.

    ARENSTEIN:    You know, it’s interesting, though, Bob, when you say that you looked at the potential of the industry and you saw tremendous potential, you saw the future. It’s funny, because, you know, I always ask people with these oral histories, “When -- you know, when you were -- back in the day, when you were doing all these things, did you see ahead?” And most of the time, the answer’s no. But here, you know, we have an example where you say, “I’m looking ahead, I’m looking out, and I saw this potential, and that’s where I wanted to move.” So that’s kind of an interesting wrinkle that we don’t normally get here.

    STANZIONE:   Well, it was. As I said before, I had the pleasure of working with some very, very smart people in Bell Laboratories. And I don’t take credit for figuring all that out. But I saw it happen. The work was done. And it was clear to me that it was possible to have this network evolve into something that it wasn’t at the time. This coaxial cable and this fiber out to a node could do two-way communications reliably. And in fact that’s what kind of brought me over the fence back in 1995.

    ARENSTEIN:    OK. So let’s move to the -- I guess the early 2000s, and -- or even late 1999 here -- 1998 you become president and CEO of ANTEC.

    STANZIONE:    Well, right before that, what happened was two companies got together -- Nortel Networks and ANTEC -- John Egan again and a Nortel Networks executive, Ian Craig, had formed a friendship and a partnership. And they wanted to start a company that would focus on the cable industry. And here again Nortel, similar to AT&T Network Systems, wasn’t that familiar with the cable industry. So they decided to join forces, because ANTEC did have that familiarity and relationship with the industry. And they decided to form a company, and I was recruited to be the first CEO of that company. The company at the time was called joint venture something. It had no name. And one of the first things we did was come up with a name for the company, and the name we came up with was ARRIS. We looked -- we did a search, we hired a firm to help us look at various names, and this name ARRIS popped up. And the word “arris” means something. It’s a word that means “the intersection of two planes to form a sharp edge.” And I thought, “What better name for a company that was a joint venture of Nortel Networks and ANTEC, two companies coming together with leading-edge technology.” And so the name stuck. And here we are. At that point I was named CEO of ARRIS, and Nortel named the CFO of the company, Dave Potts. And Dave has become, first of all, just a world-class CFO of ARRIS International now, the public company, and also a dear friend of mine. So we’ve worked together for 20 years, and I give him a lot of credit for everything that’s happened -- all the good things that have happened during that period of time. So that was 1995. It was a radical idea at the time that a cable operator could deliver reliable telephone service.

    ARENSTEIN:    Absolutely.

    STANZIONE:    Because at the time, let’s face it, the reliability of the industry wasn’t that good, and it was primarily a one-way broadcast system. It was CATV -- community antenna television -- is what it was. But we could see that it would work, and it could work very economically, and it could be an addition to the video services that were being provided. So we came up with a product. We called it Cornerstone Voice. And we sold it all over the world. We sold it, of course, in the United States, but also in Japan and Europe. And it was a success. But we could see that things were going to change pretty fast. Three years later I was asked to move up to the parent company, ANTEC, and I became the chief operating officer and the president of ANTEC working for John. And I stayed on the board of ARRIS LLC during that period of time. And then we had the 2000 and 2001 bubble burst in the telecommunications industry, where everything just fell apart. And so did our business, as a matter of fact. I was president of ANTEC, and Nortel wanted to dissolve the joint venture and sell their interest in it. So with the help of a lot of people, including our lead attorney, Larry Margolis, we figured out a way that we could buy Nortel’s interest in ARRIS out. We were able to accomplish that in 2001. And we bought their 80% interest in the LLC. We went deeply into debt to do that. We issued a lot of stock to do that. And we renamed ANTEC ARRIS. And that’s kind of the tortuous adventure that we went through where ANTEC became ARRIS. It was through that acquisition, and we renamed ANTEC ARRIS as a public company.

    ARENSTEIN:    OK. You know, there’s one thing that we haven’t really talked about, and I do want to discuss it a little bit. Your training is in engineering, and now, though, as you have told us here, you’ve moved into the boardroom. Now, I know, I see on your resume here that there were some courses that you took and things like that. How did you get ready, or how did you train yourself to move from the engineering side on to the management side?

    STANZIONE:    Well, I probably had to because I wasn’t a very good engineer. (laughter) I always had this very high interest in business. And I wanted to know about business. I wanted to know what made a business run. And so even in my very first jobs as an engineer at Western Electric, I wanted to know what happened to the product after we built it and shipped it. I wanted to know what the effect was on the profitability of the business. And so I was -- I was always pecking away at that. And one of the roles I played eventually was to become a product manager and learned how to run a product line and understand things like profit and loss. And you just have to run a business in a profitable way. You can’t lose money for very long, right? And I learned about balance sheets and cash flow and those sorts of things. I did take courses in that. I went to school at night -- again, at University of Richmond. I went to Babson College for courses. And even went to Switzerland for a period of time to study over there. And so I just had this broad interest in business and economics and how companies become successful. And quite honestly, along the way I learned about failures too. I saw a lot of failures; in fact, the two companies I’ve mentioned a lot here, AT&T Network Systems -- which eventually became Lucent -- is no more. And Nortel Networks is no more. And, you know, I learned some wonderful, wonderful things about business from being part of those organizations. Learned a lot of things not to do.

    ARENSTEIN:    Can you give me an example?

    STANZIONE:    Well, I think humility is a trait that one has to have. I mean, we serve our customers. And the slogan that I’ve applied at ARRIS consistently has been “The customer comes first, no matter what.” If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. And we were serving an industry that was quite demanding. And there were other people who wanted to serve that industry. So it was very competitive. It has been very competitive, and it is intensely competitive, even today. And so if you don’t serve the customer and look out for the best interests of the customer, you’re not going to have a business, eventually. So I think just focusing on customers. And just not getting too bigheaded about your success. I think that happened especially in the late ’90s and early 2000 period of time, when there was just a gold rush going on. And people thought that this telecommunications industry was going to just grow to the sky. And we had a big comeuppance, if you will, during that period of time. So I think just focus on customers. Hubris is a bad thing. I think when you start to think you’re smart, that’s when somebody’s going to prove you wrong. And so this -- paranoia is a good trait.

    ARENSTEIN:    OK. So let’s talk about the ARRIS years, let’s say beginning around 2000 -- or maybe even a little bit later -- 2003? You’re named chairman as well as president and CEO of the ARRIS Group. And then there are a fair amount of acquisitions. Tell us about the thinking behind acquisitions of -- of what, C-COR and Tandberg Television?

    STANZIONE:    Yeah, and even before --

    ARENSTEIN:    Whole bunch of them.

    STANZIONE:    -- even before that. In that period of time, the technology was changing also. Our Cornerstone Voice product had been successful. However, it was what’s called circuit-switched technology. And circuit-switched technology was giving way to voice over IP. And we knew that if we didn’t reengineer the company quickly that we could fall by the wayside because technology would leave us behind. So during that period of time -- you know, sometimes you’re lucky. And I’ve had more than my share of good luck along the way. We came across this company called Cadent. It was a startup company in Lisle, Illinois. Also led by some former Bell Labbers who had left Bell Labs Indian Hill and had gone to work in this startup company. And they came up with this product called the Cadent CMTS -- cable modem terminating system. It was used for providing cable modem or high-speed internet service. And we got a good deal. We bought -- we were able to buy that company -- even though we were deeply in debt at the time, we were able to do that. And I think that move alone kind of saved our company, because it moved us from this circuit-switch realm into the realm of internet protocol. At the same time, we had to sell off a bunch of businesses in order to generate the cash we needed in order to make this move into IP. So we sold our power supply business; we sold a consulting business that we had; and we sold our transmission business. Interestingly, I compete with that business now, because we’re back in it. But that was a game changer. That little joint venture -- or little startup company -- that we bought out of Lisle, Illinois -- I think it had 40 or 50 people at the time has evolved into the industry leading cable modem terminating system company in the world. Our market share now exceeds that of our closest competitor. I am so very proud of that group of people and that move. Subsequent to that, we did other acquisitions because we realized the industry was consolidating. The companies were buying one another. Our customers were buying one another. Comcast was of course the most aggressive during those days and bought AT&T Broadband, which was originally TCI. At that time Comcast canceled all our Cornerstone Voice orders. And so we were in big of trouble. But we worked our way through that, through this period of time, and we realized that given what was happening in the industry -- not only the technology changing, but the landscape in the industry was changing dramatically with these consolidations that were going on -- that we had to either get bigger or we had to become part of something bigger. We chose the get bigger. And so that kind of set us on a path of continuing to develop things internally. For example, Bruce McClelland, my successor as the CEO of ARRIS, at the time was running part of the business, and he started our cable modem business, which has prospered through the years. We also looked outside and did a number of acquisitions during those years. We bought a company called C-COR. They put us back in the transmission business. And we did other acquisitions along the way -- several small ones. But then the big one came in 2013. And that was what I referred to earlier, was when Google decided to divest the Motorola Home business. And that kind of put us in a good place.

    ARENSTEIN:    Talk about that one. Let’s jump to that one.

    STANZIONE:    Well, it was shocking, really, that Google would buy Motorola. After all, Motorola was a company that made cellular phones and made hardware for the cable industry, and why would they want to do that? And the answer was that there was a feeding frenzy for patents. We were in a period where patents were valued very highly, and there was a lot of litigation going on. And I think that Google came to the conclusion, and I’m not speaking for Google, but I think they came to the conclusion that the patents that Motorola had in the cell phone area particularly were very valuable. And so they bought the company. They subsequently sold the Home business to us, and they sold the cellular phone business, eventually, to Lenovo, a Chinese company. So now they still have those patents. Anyway, we went through a process. Again, there was competition to buy the company. At the time the ability to borrow money was good. You know, 2013 was a good year in terms of interest rates being low and banks willing to back us. And so we borrowed a lot of money, and we were able to win that auction, if you will, to buy Motorola Home. And it has really returned a good bit to our shareholders. It has really enhanced the value of the company considerably. And it allowed us to make subsequent acquisitions -- for example, two years later, we bought Pace. And Pace is a company that was doing similar things that we were, and through consolidation, economies of scale, were able to bring costs down, take costs out of the business, and remain competitive, which is what we have to do. It also brought with us more of this transmission technology through an acquisition that they had made of a company called Aurora. And the combination of what we got from C-COR and what we got from Aurora has put us in a pretty good position there. And I think as the industry continues to evolve toward fiber deeper, closer to the home, or fiber to the home over this HFC network, I think we’re in a good position to prosper as we go forward.

    ARENSTEIN:    ARRIS, as you said, when it opened the doors there was nothing, and now -- tell us about ARRIS. Tell us ARRIS International.

    STANZIONE:    How it became ARRIS International?

    ARENSTEIN:    Yes.

    STANZIONE:    Well, that’s a good question. As I said earlier, we knew we had to be bigger or become part of something bigger. And we noted that there are more people that live outside the United States than live inside the United States, and they like to talk to one another and communicate with one another too. So we’ve built a pretty strong international part of our business. And we did that -- beginning in Japan, I guess, was one of our first international customers. Again, back in the ’90s, there were a lot of investments by US companies in Japan and in Europe, in the UK in particular. And we kind of followed them over there and began doing business there. And it’s evolved to the point today where about a third of our sales are outside the United States. And we’re doing a lot of business in Europe, a lot of business in Asia, Australia has been a strong market for us, and a lot in Latin America. And so we are truly an international company. And one of the things that we did was with the acquisition of Pace, we did an inversion. An inversion is a re-domiciling of the company in the UK. So we’re actually officially, although our operational headquarters is in Atlanta, our official headquarters is in the UK. And so we’re truly an international company.

    ARENSTEIN:    What is the -- what are some of the challenges of managing an international company?

    STANZIONE:    Culture. In fact, culture’s the challenge of managing anything. I was at a meeting recently of a company that had just combined two companies, and that’s what everybody’s talking about: how do the cultures match up? And so you have to have these guiding values, and, you know, you have to realize that cultures are different in different countries. What motivates people and what’s important is different. And how people act and treat one another is different in different companies. But some things are just fundamental. Respect, teamwork, keeping an eye on the goal are universal. And so the challenge is communicating with those folks. I mean, if you think about a group over in China or in India or in Europe or in Israel or in Argentina, how do you -- how do you communicate? Fortunately, we’re in the communications business. And we use things like video conferencing and that sort of thing. But also trying to -- one of the challenges of being the leader of an international company is being physically there. And that is an important part of it. People want to know who you are and what you stand for, and they want to be reminded of that, I think, from time to time. They want to be successful. People want to be part of something that’s successful. And I think they’re willing to work hard. People are willing to work hard if they’re part of something that’s successful and they’re proud of.

    ARENSTEIN:    So there was a lot of travel involved in that for you, I would assume.

    STANZIONE:    Yes. There was a lot of travel.

    ARENSTEIN:    And any particular country that you really liked going to?

    STANZIONE:    No. I don't think there was one that stood out. I have been so fortunate to have met people all over the world that some I still stay in touch with. But to actually work with and interface with and go out to dinner with and people from all different cultures and parts of the world has been one of the pleasures of the job. You know, it's not fun getting on an airplane and traveling for 20 hours to get someplace. But when you get there, it’s just wonderful. Recent trip I made was to India and met with our employees over in India. And just what a wonderful group of people.

    ARENSTEIN:    You know, I can’t let you go here, Bob, without asking you what you see coming for this industry, or, to even make it more general, coming into the home. You know, you talked about back in the late ’80s, early ’90s, looking out and seeing that there’s this thing called the cable industry, and you wanted to get in there, and you could envision what was happening or what was going to come. So, what’s coming?

    STANZIONE:    What’s coming? Well, that’s the $64 question, isn’t it?

    ARENSTEIN:    Exactly. (laughs)

    STANZIONE:    You know, it’s hard to say. We’re always surprised. And I think one of the things that is an ingredient to success is being ready for the surprise. Just be ready for something you just don’t know is going to happen. And I’ve seen so many things happen that weren’t anticipated. And so in order to prosper in that kind of an environment, you just have to be on your tiptoes at all times. But to answer your question, what’s coming, I think mobility is key to everything. I think in just a couple of years, probably half the traffic on the network is going to be video traffic, and it’s going to be delivered to a mobile device of one type or another. It’s already heading in that direction very fast. And so I think that there’ll be continued changes in the makeup of the telecommunications industry, where cable companies may get into cellular services -- in fact, they’re already doing it. And we’ll have to provide the technology. One of the trends that I don't think is going to stop is that traffic on the network has been growing at a breathtaking rate. It’s been growing at 40%, 50% a year, which means that every 18 months the amount of traffic doubles. And so imagine if the traffic out on those streets doubled every 18 months or two years. It would choke. And the reason we’re able to cope with that is the technology continues to improve, and we’re able to squeeze more and more traffic through the same network. And so I think that what we’ll see over the coming years is gigabit speeds delivered to homes and businesses, and I think people will find uses for it. You know, the smartphone is only 10 years old, a little over 10 years old. The tablets are around that same age. We didn’t see that coming. And so who knows what comes next. I think things like virtual reality will become a reality. Right now I don't think we’ve really found the sweet spot for the use of virtual reality. But I think we will. One of the things that we’ve got to do is kind of match the Wi-Fi speeds to the speed of the network over to the side of the home. So if you got a gigabit coming to the side of the home, what do you do with that inside the home? We need to come up with ways of improving Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the home so that when you put on a virtual reality set you don’t have an HDMI cord hanging off of it. You can do that wirelessly. And we also have to have enough bandwidth coming to that so that you don’t get seasick when you are enjoying your virtual reality experience. In order to do that it just takes more and more bandwidth. Things like artificial intelligence are -- you know, these are things that have been talked about for a long time, and they are -- they’re really happening. We’ll have machines talking to machines. We’ll have people talking to machines. I think those are the kind of things that are exciting and will continue to stress the networks, and technology will solve those bottlenecks.

    ARENSTEIN:    You’re not worried about the network getting -- as you say, getting choked?

    STANZIONE:    No, I’m not. I think that we’ve got things -- we are -- our company, our customers, our competitors -- we’re all working on ways to open up the network using new technologies. We’re now deploying things like DOCSIS 3.1, which, again, just another step in the evolution of that HFC infrastructure. We’re looking at or we’re doing a lot more fiber to the home. And I think the economics of those things are improving to the extent that we can deploy them.

    ARENSTEIN:    Bob, are there people -- you mentioned a whole bunch of people. You mentioned Jim Chiddix and others. Are there other people that you look to as great influencers for you over your career?

    STANZIONE:    Well, gee whiz. Uh, I almost hesitate to start listing names, because --

    ARENSTEIN:    Because you’ll leave somebody out.

    STANZIONE:    -- I’ll probably leave somebody out, but, you know, I give a lot of credit to one of my old bosses at Bell Labs, Bob Sanferrare, who was a person that really encouraged me in my career -- supported the skunkworks that I was involved in that kind of led me here. And I’ve mentioned John Egan and -- you know, I’ve got some wonderful board members that have been great mentors and advisors. Alex Best, who’s the former CTO at Cox Cable, is a guy that I admire a lot and has been a great advisor to me. Gosh, I could go on and on. Most of all I give credit to my wife, though. She’s a fabulous woman. We’ve been married -- if we can make it another month, it’ll be 49 years.

    ARENSTEIN:    Congratulations.

    STANZIONE:    And she’s always been there. And been very supportive of all these crazy things that I’ve done.

    ARENSTEIN:    What is -- what’s something that you’re most proud of in terms of technology and cable and -- you know, to me, I think one of the big untold stories -- although the people in cable know it -- but untold in a general public way is this whole infrastructure that cable set up that now is the -- is the foundation for so much -- maybe everything in this country. Is that something that you’re -- and you’ve played a big part in that.

    STANZIONE:    Well, I played a part.

    ARENSTEIN:    Is that your legacy?

    STANZIONE:    I wouldn’t say it was a big part. It was a part.

    ARENSTEIN:    OK.

    STANZIONE:    I was there.

    ARENSTEIN:    You were there.

    STANZIONE:    I was there when it happened. And I think that this development of hybrid fiber-coax is probably the turning point that happened back in the late ’80s, early ’90s. And I’m proud that I was involved with that. But I guess when I look back also, I’m just so proud of what ARRIS has become. Starting out with two companies supporting us, but with nothing. You know, we started with zero sales. And we’ve built it into a $7 billion public company with just a lot of great people in it. And I have to say, I’m so proud of the team that is leading the company now. I’m phasing out. And we’ve got a great leader in Bruce McClelland. And the team that we’ve put together as the supporting cast for Bruce and the leadership of the company is, I think, the best of the best. And I believe that deeply, because I can point to the reason for it. When we were ARRIS before the Motorola Home acquisition, we were a good company. We were a strong company. We were highly regarded in the industry. We bought Motorola Home, who were a strong company. And then we bought Pace. And we’ve got these three companies that had some of the best leaders in the industry, and we’ve taken the best of the best and formed the leadership of ARRIS. So I think ARRIS is on a path to continue to prosper. And I think in a few days we’ll be closing our latest acquisition, which is the acquisition of Ruckus Wireless from Brocade. And that will add another dimension to the company. And I think the company has to keep moving in that direction, keep changing, you know, don’t look back; look forward. And I think that there’s a lot more to come.

    ARENSTEIN:    So let’s look ahead with Bob Stanzione. What’s ahead for you?

    STANZIONE:    What’s ahead for me? Well, I am, again, just privileged to be able to stay involved with ARRIS. But I don’t have to work as hard as I used to. And that’s the great part about it. You know, I just am not doing as much traveling as I did before. I’m not the CEO anymore, and the company’s in good hands. And they’ve given me the opportunity to remain involved as the executive chairman, and I can offer advice and participate in decision-making in the company, but I don’t have to work so darn hard. So I’ve taken up some new things. We bought a farm. And I’m doing things I never dreamed I would do. You know, boy from the Bronx owning a farm is kind of a leap. It took a long time for that to happen. But we’ve got this land in Georgia, not far outside of Atlanta, and we’ve got some horses, and we just acquired some cows, so I’m now raising cattle. I’m not doing the work, though. I’m providing the land and the financing, and I’ve got some great partners working with me. So we’re going to do that, see how that works out for a while. And I also have just a wonderful, wonderful family that I’m surrounded with. We’ve got three great kids, two daughters and a son, all married. We have 12 grandchildren. And that keeps us --

    ARENSTEIN:    That will keep you busy.

    STANZIONE:    -- pretty busy.

    ARENSTEIN:    They could work on the farm.

    STANZIONE:    I’m not sure they’re up for that.

    ARENSTEIN:    When they get older.

    STANZIONE:    We’ll see what happens.

    ARENSTEIN:    All right. You know, I hesitate to mention, because I know you’re a modest guy, but there are so many awards here. Is there one that stands out for you? I know there’s a Vanguard, there’s the Cable TV Pioneers, the Cable Hall of Fame...any of them stand out in particular for you as particularly significant?

    STANZIONE:    Well, there are a couple. I mean, the Hall of Fame was a highlight for me. There are only about 100 people that have achieved the Hall of Fame designation -- just over 100. And to be one of 100 people in an industry like this that has been given that honor is just unbelievable. It’s a night I’ll never forget. The whole family was there and we enjoyed that a lot. Because the kids never really knew what I did. You know, they would always say, “What do you do, Dad?” I said, “Well, I go to meetings, I get on airplanes, and that sort of thing.” But they got to meet a number of the people in the industry that I deal with, and that was an honor. And also, I guess one other I’d like to point out is my university honored me a couple years ago with being designated as a member of the Thomas Green Clemson Engineering Society, which is something that is one of the highest honors of the Clemson School of Engineering. As I said, I’m not much of an engineer. But that was a big honor. And a really neat thing about it was that my brother Dan, who’s a couple years older than I, had been honored with that same designation a few years before I was. And we’re the only brothers that have ever achieved that. So I’m very proud of him, and -- gosh, I should have mentioned him along the way as one of the people that’s had a great influence on me.

    ARENSTEIN:    How did he influence you? What did he do?

    STANZIONE:    Well, he led the way. I mean, he is my older brother. I’m second of five, and Dan was the number one. He went to Clemson. I followed him to Clemson. I actually joined the Bell System before he did because he remained in school longer than I did and achieved his PhD. He became the president of Bell Laboratories. He is just a fabulous person and has achieved a lot of great success in business. And it was good -- a good period. This is where the name thing comes in, by the way --

    ARENSTEIN:    Yes, right. You said that.

    STANZIONE:    Because it’s funny that at the beginning of this interview you asked how to pronounce my last name, and I said, “Stan-zee-o-nee.” And my brother pronounces it “Stan-zee-own.” And we have argued about that for years and years, decades. And I still contend I’m closer to the right pronunciation.

    ARENSTEIN:    Yes, you are, you are.

    STANZIONE:    OK.

    ARENSTEIN:    Having lived in Italy, I can say you definitely are. (laughter) No question about it. Well, Bob, thank you so much. This has been a pleasure.                      

    END OF INTERVIEW

     

     

  • Breaking Bad

    Save to PDF

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Breaking Bad

    breaking bad 2018

    A television drama series
    Vince Gilligan, creator
    AMC

    “Breaking Bad,” which first premiered on AMC in January 2008, follows protagonist Walter White, a chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife and teenage son who has cerebral palsy. White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live. With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to secure his family's financial security, White chooses to enter the dangerous world of drugs and crime and ascends to power in this world.  

    Over its five-season run, the series garnered 16 Primetime Emmy® Awards, including the 2014 and 2013 Emmy® for Outstanding Drama Series; two Golden Globe® Awards, two Peabodys and was named to the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list of the “Top 10 Programs of the Year” in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, among other accolades. The series stars four-time Emmy®-winner Bryan Cranston; three-time Emmy®-winner Aaron Paul; two-time Emmy®-winner Anna Gunn; Dean Norris; Betsy Brandt; RJ Mitte, Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk. “Breaking Bad” is executive produced by showrunner Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson (Gran Via) and Michelle MacLaren and produced by Sony Pictures Television.

    Critics hailed the show as expertly written and flawlessly performed, and among the great television dramas. The series will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its premiere in January of 2018.

     

     

  • Brian L. Roberts

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Brian L. Roberts

    President & Chief Executive Officer, Comcast Corp., 2006 Cable Hall of Fame

    robertsBrian

    I think I've taken away that the entrepreneurial spirit of this industry is what it's all about. Something good comes out of something bad. If life is about taking a swing every once in a while, even if you make a mistake, usually something good comes from that experience.

    Brian L. Roberts is Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, the nation's leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services. Under his leadership, Comcast has grown into a Fortune 100 company with 21.4 million customers and 80,000 employees. Comcast's content networks and investments include E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, The Golf Channel, OLN, G4, AZN Television, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One and four regional Comcast SportsNets. The Company also has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectator, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia.

    Mr. Roberts is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and previously served as Chairman of NCTA from 1995 to 1996, when the landmark deregulatory 1996 Telecommunications Act became law.

    Mr. Roberts has won numerous business and industry honors for his leadership. Institutional Investor magazine named him its top vote-getter three years straight (2004-2006) in the Cable & Satellite category of their America's Best CEOs annual survey; and also named Comcast as one of America's Most Shareholder-Friendly Companies in 2006. He was the recipient of the 2004 Humanitarian Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and was the 2002 Walter Kaitz Foundation Honoree of the Year for his commitment to diversity in the cable industry. The Police Athletic League of Philadelphia honored Mr. Roberts with its 2002 award for his commitment to youth programs and community partnerships.

    Mr. Roberts is a board member of The Bank of New York. He co-chaired the 2003 Resource Development Campaign for the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and co-chaired Philadelphia 2000, the nonpartisan host committee for the 2000 Republican National Convention. An All-American in squash, he earned a gold medal with the U.S. squash team in 2005 and silver medals at the 1981, 1985 and 1997 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

    Mr. Roberts, 47, received his BS from the Wharton School of Finance of the University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Aileen, live in Philadelphia with their three children.

  • Brian Lamb

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Brian Lamb

    Chairman and CEO, C-SPAN, 2000 Cable Hall of Fame

    lambBrian

    There was no cable news network... It had never been discussed; it had never been mentioned... I said to the group, my idea is that we figure out a way to do public affairs. That we do our own 'Meet the Press' type program, because cable has no identity to this.

    Brian Lamb was born and raised in Lafayette, IN. By the time he graduated from Purdue University in 1963, he knew he loved two things: politics and the media. He began to see there was something wrong with the relationship between the two while he was serving in the Navy. Assigned to the Pentagon's public affairs office, Lamb was able to listen to weekly press briefings given by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in his private dining room at the Pentagon. McNamara would divulge details about the war on condition that he only be quoted as "U.S. officials." After each briefing, lead stories would appear in newpapers and on TV, revealing new developments in the war, but sourced only by "U.S. officials."

    To Lamb it seemed like a fraud, a relationship that allowed the government to control news about the war while handing reporters the stories they needed. Years later, when McNamara revealed he'd lied about many of the events of the war, the briefings seemed even more insidious.

    At the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy in 1971, Lamb began to think about how cable, with its potential for many channels, might deliver a new kind of public affairs programming, one that favored longer, more informative interviews over the quick summaries that were becoming popular on network TV.

    Then, on March 19, 1979, the Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network began beaming its signal. From the start, it was different from anything else on television, not just because of the live sessions of Congress it transmitted, but because of its approach to covering events. Cameras began rolling before a meeting or hearing started, showing people tapping microphones and getting ready to begin, and kept rolling after the event ended, while audiences gathered coats and began streaming toward the door.

    His approach to interviewing people on the air was also radically different from what happened on most other TV outlets. He made it a rule that C-SPAN hosts never reveal their own opinions on the air.

    C-SPAN's approach to call-in shows, conceived in 1980, was still another departure. The calls weren't just used to spice up a conversation between host and guest. They formed the backbone of the program, giving viewers a chance to talk back about issues.

    C-SPAN continued to break rules for the next two decades, gaining particular fame in 1990, when it attached apel microphones to presidential candidates and followed them around for hours at a stretch, documenting the drama and mundane details of running for office.

    C-SPAN added a second channel, C-SPAN2, in 1986 to cover proceedings of the U.S. Senate, and in 1989, it launched Booknotes, a weekly interview with non-fiction authors. The show would later spawn Book TV, a weekend program service on C-SPAN2 that is poised to expand as cable operators find room for more digital channels. C-SPAN Extra, a third channel offering more coverage of events, launched in 1999 and will be expanded to 24 hours a day this year.

    Lamb, who several years ago delegated operating responsibilities for C-SPAN to executive vice presidents Susan Swain and Rob Kennedy, serves as the organization's chief standard-bearer and liaison with its cable industry board of directors. He keeps up a demanding schedule that includes hosting Booknotes 52 weeks a year and the weekly hosting of Washington Journal, the network's flagship morning call-in show. He travels to numerous speaking engagements and refuses compensation for them. Earnings from his books, the third of which is a tour of presidential grave sites, go to C-SPAN's education foundation.

  • Brian Lamb : Bresnan Award Honoree 2013

    Brian Lamb   Bresnan Award Honoree 2013

    Brian Lamb

    Executive Chairman
    C-SPAN Networks

    Brian Lamb is Executive Chairman of C-SPAN Networks and has been a part of the public affairs channel since he helped the cable industry launch it 34 years ago.

    In the 1970’s, Lamb covered telecommunications issues as Washington bureau chief for Cablevision Magazine. It was from this vantage point that C-SPAN took shape.  Congress was about to televise its proceedings; the cable industry was looking for programming to deliver to its customers by satellite.  Lamb brought these two ideas together with C-SPAN, which launched with the first televised House of Representatives debate on March 19, 1979.

    Lamb has been a regular on-air presence at C-SPAN and has interviewed Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama and many world leaders including Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev.

  • Bridget Baker

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Bridget Baker

    Bridget Baker, CEO, Baker Media Inc.; Former president of content distribution, NBCUniversal

    Bridget Baker

    CEO
    Baker Media Inc.

    Bridget Baker’s spirit of exploration came naturally. Her attorney father was an adventurer with a pioneering outlook. When he left the Marine Corps, he joined Alaska’s oldest law firm and moved his young family of five to Juneau. “When you grow up in such a remote area, you tend to be externally focused,” Baker says. “I wanted to get out and explore the world.” She was also “a bit of a news junkie.” After college, she went to Washington, D.C. as a legislative assistant to Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens while attending graduate school at night.

    Within a few years, Baker was ready to move to the private sector. In Washington, she’d been paying close attention to issues that affected the unique needs of Alaskans; telecommunications was one that seemed appealing. A friend told her about the Fashion Channel, an early home-shopping cable network dedicated to clothing. Having grown up shopping from catalogs in Alaska, Baker says, the idea of “shopping from a distance” via video catalog made perfect sense. She joined the network and began traveling around the country to convince local cable operators to carry her service.

    Baker was in her element. “I loved the cable business,” she says. “My job was to meet with the entrepreneurs who were connecting America. I loved their independent spirit.” The Fashion Channel only survived for two years. Baker was looking for her next gig when NBC called. The major broadcaster had plans to get into the cable news business, challenging the primacy of CNN. Baker was skeptical. Knowing cable operators as well as she did, she didn’t think they would welcome a broadcast interloper on CNN founder Ted Turner’s turf. While in New York for an interview, she ran into a cable friend: Fred Vierra, who was then leading Denver-based United Cable. “Fred said, ‘You’re unemployed, right? Why don’t you give it a whirl and see what happens?’” she recalls.

    Baker took the job and became a co-founder of CNBC. Her skill negotiating carriage for the network was legendary, and her portfolio grew to include such properties as USA, Bravo, MSNBC, Oxygen, and others. She went on to become NBCUniversal’s president of content distribution. In 2012, she was honored with the NCTA Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership.

    When she left NBCUniversal in 2013, she founded Baker Media, which advises both multi-billion-dollar networks and startups in content distribution. Her sense of adventure continues to be fed by her husband and three children. “They’ve led me down all sorts of interesting paths,” she says.

    Baker advises those entering the cable and telecom industry to, “stay flexible. Come in with an open mind; be ready to absorb and learn because the industry moves quickly. When I came from Capitol Hill, I stepped into a fast-moving stream. If you have a spot on a boat in those waters, realize how lucky you are to be in this vibrant, successful industry.”

  • Burt Harris

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Burt Harris

    Former Vice Chairman, Warner Cable , 2001 Cable Hall of Fame

    harrisBurt

    In the early years of cable television, particularly in the big cities, the demands for local origination at the expense of the cable company were enormous. We had to combat that over and over and over again. It was the reason we had to keep our politics clean and our public relations very, very strong.

    After attending the University of Minnesota and serving in the U.S. Navy, Harris started out in the television broadcasting business and became involved in the cable industry in the late1950s, when he began buying systems and winning several franchises. For the system in Bakersfield, CA, he partnered with Time-Life Broadcasting, which was Time's first involvement in the cable business. He also helped build Cypress Communications, one of the first public cable companies, and later sold it to Warner Communications, where it became the foundation for Warner Cable. After the sale, Harris served as vice chairman of Warner Cable.

    He later left Warner to start his own cable company and managed the first profitable cable system in Puerto Rico. In the late 1970s, Harris served as chairman of Premiere, a pay-television service started by a group of Hollywood studios. Premiere went out of business before it even launched because the U.S. Department of Justice threatened to sue for antitrust law violations. Harris was involved in the public policy arena, serving in various positions at the (NCTA), including serving as its chairman in 1976-1977.

  • Cable Center Honors Bill Daniels And Pat Esser With 2021 And 2022 Bresnan Ethics In Business Awards

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    June 8, 2022

    View/download pdfPress Release PDF(50 KB)

    Cable Center Honors Bill Daniels And Pat Esser With 2021 And 2022 Bresnan Ethics In Business Awards

    To Be Presented During 2022 Cable Hall of Fame Celebration

    DENVER, CO, June 8, 2022 – The Cable Center announced today that the late Bill Daniels, a cable television pioneer and founder of the Daniels Fund, has been named the 2021 Bresnan Award recipient and Pat Esser, former President and CEO of Cox Communications, has been named the 2022 recipient. The award recognizes the late William J. Bresnan, founder and chairman of Bresnan Communications and longtime chairman of the board of The Cable Center. The award will be presented at the 25th annual Cable Hall of Fame celebration, September 15, 2022, at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City.

    “On behalf of the Daniels Fund, I am honored to accept this award for Bill Daniels,” said Hanna Skandera, President and CEO, Daniels Fund. “He would have been extremely proud to receive this recognition along with Pat. He dedicated his life to the cable industry and to giving back to his community. His commitment to ethics and to being a steward of the next generation of leaders was unrivaled and we continue to see the impact of that commitment today.”

    “I am thrilled to accept the Bresnan Award,” said Pat Esser. “Bill Bresnan was not only a mentor, but also a friend, and I greatly admired his passion for our industry and to doing what is right in today’s business world. I am humbled to be named this year’s award recipient and I am thrilled to be recognized alongside Bill Daniels.”

    “Bill and Pat have been two of the most passionate and innovative members of our industry. Their dedication to people and philanthropy exemplifies what the Bresnan Award is all about,” said Michael Willner, Chairman and CEO of Penthera Partners and Chairman of The Cable Center’s Board of Directors. “Pat has shown outstanding leadership at the helm of Cox Communications and his dedication to our industry and to supporting his community is extraordinary. Bill helped found the cable industry and his entrepreneurial spirt was at the core of its growth and success. We are honored to recognize both Bill and Pat.”

    Bill Daniels was a born entrepreneur, widely considered one of the great business visionaries of the twentieth century and one of the earliest pioneers in the cable industry. Daniels’ company, Daniels & Associates, brokered many of the deals that shaped the industry, and his leadership attracted many technology and communications companies to Denver, making it the recognized “cable capital of the world.”

    Daniels was also a dedicated philanthropist, providing significant support to innovative education efforts. He founded Young Americans Bank in 1987, the world’s only bank exclusively for kids, and made substantial donations to the University of Denver to incorporate ethics, values, and personal integrity into the business school curriculum. The business school was later renamed the Daniels College of Business in his honor.

    Daniels spent his final years laying plans for the Daniels Fund, which is now one of the largest foundations in the Rocky Mountain region, continuing Daniels’ legacy of compassion and generosity across Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming through grants, scholarships, and an ethics initiative.

    Pat Esser held the top executive position at Cox since 2006, retiring December 31, 2021. During his leadership tenure, Cox earned many accolades for celebrating its diverse people, suppliers, communities, products and the characteristics that make each one unique. Esser has personally been recognized with several industry awards including the Cable Advertising Bureau’s President’s Award, NCTA’s Vanguard Award for Leadership, Multichannel News’ Executive of the Year, NAMIC’s Living Legend Award and Hall of Fame inductions by both The Cable Center and Multichannel News.

    Esser currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of C-SPAN as well as a national Trustee and member of the Board of Governors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He also served many years on both the board of CableLabs and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

    “Bill and Pat’s commitment to the creation and growth of the cable industry, as well as their history of supporting innumerable philanthropic endeavors is truly inspirational,” said Diane Christman, President and CEO, The Cable Center. “We are delighted to honor them with the Bresnan Award.”

    The Bresnan Ethics in Business Award was created to honor outstanding men and women in the cable industry who best exemplify Bill Bresnan’s longstanding commitment to ethics in business, and demonstrating societal, community, and philanthropic engagement.

    The 25th annual Cable Hall of Fame returns to the Ziegfeld Ballroom on September 15, 2022.

    For more information on the celebration and to secure sponsorships, visit www.cablehalloffame.com, or call 720-502-7513.

    About The Cable Center

    The Cable Center is an educational nonprofit serving the connectivity industry that advances future innovation by helping organizations develop connectivity innovators from within. Through our Intrapreneurship Academy, we enable companies to drive business growth by channeling the entrepreneurial drive of their greatest source of inspiration – their people. Our programs, expertise, and opportunity instill the leadership of our industry’s original innovators to empower a new generation of bold thinkers. Based in Denver, Colorado, The Cable Center is also the home of the Cable Hall of Fame, recognizing individuals for their outstanding contributions to the industry’s progress; and the Barco Library, the world’s largest collection of cable-related information and resources.

    Visit www.cablecenter.org for more information.

    About The Cable Hall of Fame Celebration

    The industry’s best networking event, the Cable Hall of Fame honors leaders in connectivity, content, and media who have made a lasting contribution to the advancement of the industry. The official Cable Hall of Fame hashtag is #CableHOF.

    For more information, visit www.cablehalloffame.com or call 720-502-7513

    # # #

    Media Contact

    Geneva Rodriguez

    720-502-7533

  • Cable Center Names Industry Frontline Associates the 2021 Cable Hall of Fame Honoree

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    December 16, 2021

    For more information, contact:
    Hannah Hardi

    720-502-7532
    pdfView/download Press Release PDF(45 KB)

    Cable Center Names Industry Frontline Associates the 2021 Cable Hall of Fame Honoree

    The Cable Center salutes and commemorates the unwavering commitment, service, leadership, and innovation of the connectivity industry’s Frontline Associates throughout the pandemic.

    DENVER, CO – The Cable Center announced during its virtual Cable Hall of Fame celebration, which premiered November 15 on C-SPAN3 and C-SPAN.org, that the 2021 Cable Hall of Fame Honoree would be an especially memorable recipient this year.

    After ceremoniously inducting the 2020 Honorees into the Cable Hall of Fame, The Cable Center surprised viewers by naming the connectivity industry’s Frontline Associates the 2021 Honoree, recognizing their ongoing commitment to innovation, leadership, and service throughout the pandemic.

    “Our industry’s steadfast Frontline deserves our deepest gratitude, highest regard, and heartfelt recognition,” said Michael Willner, President and CEO of Penthera Partners and Chairman of The Cable Center’s Board of Directors. “Our Frontline Associates have collectively demonstrated phenomenal leadership, innovation, and grit throughout the pandemic. Thank you for keeping our communities connected and welcome to The Cable Hall of Fame.”

    Since 1998, 148 total Honorees have been inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame. Although several groups have been inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame before, this year’s remarkable group Honoree certainly stands out.

    “Our inspiring Frontline Associates have proved there is no obstacle too great for our industry to face head-on,” said Jana Henthorn, President and CEO of The Cable Center. “Due to their unwavering commitment to innovation—even during the throes of an unprecedented global pandemic—our industry is thriving as it continues to innovate and connect families and friends, companies and employees, communities and nations. We are grateful for our Frontline Associates and their exceptional leadership, agility, resilience, and service. We are honored to induct them into The Cable Hall of Fame.”

    The full virtual celebration as well as a dedicated tribute to the Frontline Associates are available for on-demand streaming at www.cablehalloffame.com. For more information on the Cable Hall of Fame celebration, the 2020 Honorees, and the 2021 Honoree, visit www.cablehalloffame.com.

    About The Cable Center

    The Cable Center is an educational nonprofit serving the connectivity industry that advances future innovation by helping organizations develop connectivity innovators from within. Through our Intrapreneurship Academy, we enable companies to drive business growth by channeling the entrepreneurial drive of their greatest source of inspiration – their people. Our programs, expertise, and opportunity instill the leadership of our industry’s original innovators to empower a new generation of bold thinkers. Based in Denver, Colorado, The Cable Center is also the home of the Cable Hall of Fame, recognizing individuals for their outstanding contributions to the industry’s progress; and the Barco Library, the world’s largest collection of cable-related information and resources. . Visit www.cablecenter.org for more information.

     

    # # #

  • Cable Center Welcomes Six Industry Trailblazers to Cable Hall of Fame Class of 2022

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    March 30, 2022

    pdfView/download Press Release PDF(70 KB)

    Cable Center Welcomes Six Industry Trailblazers to Cable Hall of Fame Class of 2022

    Celebration Returns to New York City on September 15

    DENVER, CO, March 30, 2022 – Six industry innovators who have changed the world of media and entertainment are set to be honored at the 25th annual Cable Hall of Fame celebration. The 2022 Cable Hall of Fame red carpet event will return to the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on September 15.

    The honorees, selected for their groundbreaking leadership and entrepreneurship in the connectivity, content, and media industry, are:

    • Patricia Jo Boyers – President/CEO & Co-Founder, BOYCOM Cablevision, Inc.; Chairman of the Board of Directors, ACA Connects
    • Kevin Casey – President, Northeast Division of Comcast Cable
    • Chris Lammers – COO Emeritus and Senior Executive Advisor, CableLabs
    • Tina Perry – President, OWN TV Network & OTT Streaming
    • John C. Porter II – CEO, Telenet Group Holding
    • The Honorable Michael K. Powell – President & CEO, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association; Former Chairman of the FCC

    Since 1998, 147 luminaries have been inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame.

    “Our 2022 Cable Hall of Fame class represents the ‘best of the best’ of our industry. Each of these trailblazers has worked to shape the cable and video entertainment industry through their leadership and pioneering ideas,” said Michael Willner, president and CEO of Penthera Partners and chairman of The Cable Center’s Board of Directors. “We are also thrilled to welcome everyone back to the red carpet for our Cable Hall of Fame celebration this fall in New York.”

    “The entrepreneurial spirit and dedication shown by this year’s inductees has had an immeasurable impact on our industry throughout the world. We can’t wait to gather in person again and honor them at our celebration at the Ziegfeld Ballroom on September 15,” said Diane Christman, president and CEO, The Cable Center.

    The 25th annual Cable Hall of Fame returns to the Ziegfeld Ballroom on September 15, 2022.

    For more information on the celebration and to secure sponsorships, visit www.cablehalloffame.com, or call 720-502-7513.

    About The Cable Center

    The Cable Center is an educational nonprofit serving the connectivity industry that advances future innovation by helping organizations develop connectivity innovators from within. Through our Intrapreneurship Academy, we enable companies to drive business growth by channeling the entrepreneurial drive of their greatest source of inspiration – their people. Our programs, expertise, and opportunity instill the leadership of our industry’s original innovators to empower a new generation of bold thinkers. Based in Denver, Colorado, The Cable Center is also the home of the Cable Hall of Fame, recognizing individuals for their outstanding contributions to the industry’s progress; and the Barco Library, the world’s largest collection of cable-related information and resources.

    Visit www.cablecenter.org for more information.

    About The Cable Hall of Fame Celebration

    The industry’s best networking event, the Cable Hall of Fame honors leaders in connectivity, content, and media who have made a lasting contribution to the advancement of the industry. The official Cable Hall of Fame hashtag is #CableHOF.

    For more information, visit www.cablehalloffame.com or call 720-502-7513

    # # #

  • Cable Hall of Fame

    25th Annual Cable Hall of Fame. Thursday, September 15, 2022. Zeigfeld Ballroom, New York City.  
  • Carolyn S. Chambers

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Carolyn S. Chambers

    Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Chambers Comm, 2006 Cable Hall of Fame

    chambersCarolyn

    Chambers Communications Corp.'s founder and Chairman Carolyn S. Chambers passed away from cancer Monday morning, August 7, 2011. She was 79 years old.

    In 1959, Carolyn Chambers was granted a license for KEZI-TV in Eugene, Oregon. Thus, the beginning of Liberty Communications, Inc. Liberty eventually became the 19th largest cable operator in the United States. In 1983 Liberty Communications, Inc. was sold to Tele-Communications Inc. As part of that transaction, Carolyn retained KEZI-TV and four cable systems in Washington and California, and formed Chambers Communications Corp. Chambers Communications grew to include the purchase of the cable system in Chico, California, as well as two additional television stations in Oregon. In 2000 Chambers sold all of her cable systems, but one, to AT&T. Today, Chambers Communications consists of three broadcast television stations operating as ABC affiliates; one cable system; a television, movie and video production company; and an ISP provider.

    Carolyn was also the President of Chambers Construction, a Company started by her husband. Since his passing in 1986 Carolyn had overseen $539,015,193.00 in construction. Carolyn also owned Hinman Vineyards; Panther Creek Cellars; and McKenzie River Motors, a real-estate holding company.

    In 2001 Carolyn purchased the screenplay for "Puerto Vallarta Squeeze," an action-thriller novel by Robert Waller (The Bridges of Madison County), and in 2002 she directed the filming of the movie in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Carolyn was then led to an opportunity with a Broadway play, "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks". The play opened in New York at the Belasco Theatre, as well as theatre companies in Chicago, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Berlin, Sydney, Tokyo and Hamburg. In the spring of 2004, Carolyn directed the filming of a second movie, "The Sisters", a screenplay by Richard Alfieri. This movie was filmed exclusively at the Sound Stages at Chambers Media Center and in the surrounding Eugene area. The film was released April of 2006 and has won 8 awards.

    Carolyn has served on the National Cable Television Association; state cable organizations for Oregon, Washington, and California; the Pacific Northwest Cable Television Association; Cable TV Pioneers; C-SPAN Board of Directors, and she was a charter member of the national chapter of Women in Cable, and served as it's 3rd National President. She has served on the Board of Directors of two Fortune 500 Companies; the Federal Reserve Bank; and numerous other corporations. Among Carolyn's many awards are Eugene's First Citizen awarded in 1985, and Philanthropist of the Year in 1994.

  • Cathy Hughes

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Cathy Hughes

    Cathy Hughes, Urban One Founder and Chairwoman

    CATHY HUGHES

    FOUNDER AND CHAIRWOMAN
    URBAN ONE

    Cathy Hughes was supposed to follow her mother into music. Her mom played in an all-women’s swing orchestra, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and, her daughter says, “she was determined that I would be Beyoncé.” Instead, Hughes got into media and has been a ground-breaker for forty years.

    Married and a mother at 17, Hughes began her media career in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, where she worked at KOWH, an African American-owned AM radio station. In 1973, the now-single mother moved with her son, Albert, to Washington, D.C. where she lectured at Howard University’s school of communications and worked as sales manager for the university’s radio station, WHUR. There, she created the distinctive “Quiet Storm” format that revolutionized urban radio. She would become Washington radio’s first female general manager.

    In 1980, Hughes purchased her first radio station, WOL-AM, applying to 32 banks before finding a lender to help finance the deal. At WOL she introduced another new format to the nation’s capital, “Talk from a Black Perspective.” Unable to afford hiring talk-show talent, she became the station’s morning show host. Five years later, Hughes’ son, Alfred Liggins, joined the WOL staff as an account manager. WOL turned its first profit in ’86, and the next year, Hughes bought WMMJ, also in the Washington, D.C. market. Her company, Radio One, became an urban radio market leader with more than 60 stations and multiple formats across the country.

    Liggins took on more responsibility as Radio One grew, and in 1994 he took over day-to-day operations, with Hughes as CEO. She says it was a smart move to make the transition when she did, instead of waiting until she was ready to retire, as many heads of family-owned businesses tend to do. “Parents wait too long to let go,” she says. “It’s so hard to give the combination to the vault to the same child who would lose the keys to the front door.” The mother-son business partnership has endured and thrived. Liggins became CEO in 1997; Hughes is board chair.

    Radio One went public in 1999, becoming the first company on the U.S. stock exchange headed by an African American woman. Hughes entered the cable industry in 2004 with the launch of TV One in partnership with Comcast. The new cable channel was just the second entry into the African American market. By 2006, TV One was available in more than 33 million households. Radio One was renamed Urban One in 2017, and is today a multi-media enterprise with radio stations, cable, syndicated programs, web, and marketing properties under its umbrella.

    Hughes was inducted into the Black History Hall of Fame in 2000, and she has received numerous awards and honors over the course of her career. In 2016, Howard University announced the naming of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications. “My goal was always to be of service to my community,” she says.

  • Char Beales

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Char Beales

    Board of Directors Member at CTAM Europe, 2009 Cable Hall of Fame

    Char Beales

    Char Beales is President and CEO of CTAM, Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, The 5,200 individual and 90 corporate member professional service organization.  CTAM provides its members with a full slate of conferences, specialized publications, targeted research and a network of chapters.

    Prior to joining CTAM, Beales was Vice President of Program Development for COMSAT's Video Enterprises, a division that provided satellite delivered pay per view programming to the U.S. lodging industry. Beales served as Vice President of Programming and Marketing for the National Cable Television Association and Executive Director of the National Academy of Cable Programming which sponsored the CableACE Awards. Beales has also served as the senior research executive at television stations owned by NBC and CBS and a media buyer at J. Walter Thompson.

    Char Beales serves on the Boards of The Cable Center and the Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association (CTHRA). In 1996, Beales received the National Cable Television Association's Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership. She has been honored with the NCTA's Vanguard Award for Marketing in 1995, the President's Award in 1990, the Cable Academy's special ACE Award, the CTAM's Chairman's and TAMI Awards for volunteer service. Char Beales served as a member of the Advisory Council for the Independent Television Violence Assessment Study from 1995 to 1998. Beales is a communications graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

  • Charles Dolan

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Charles Dolan

    Founder and Chairman, Cablevision Systems Corp., 2000 Cable Hall of Fame

    dolanCharles

    It was clear that if were going to succeed in Manhattan, we needed to provide the subscriber with content, with programming, that they were then unable to receive from broadcast television.

    Charles "Chuck" Dolan was born on October 16, 1926 in Cleveland, Ohio. The son of an inventor, he served in the U.S. Air Force and studied at John Carroll University before blazing a trail in telecommunications. His earliest professional endeavors focused on the packaging, marketing and syndication of sports and industrial films.

    Working together with his wife in their Cleveland home in the late 1950s, Mr. Dolan edited and produced short film reels of sports events for syndication to television stations. Selling the business, he joined the acquiring firm and moved to New York. Shortly afterwards, he and a business partner bought out the company's owner and formed Sterling Movies USA, which distributed industrial films to targeted audiences, usually groups gathered at convention hotels.

    Sterling became the launch pad for Mr. Dolan's groundbreaking business idea of connecting New York City hotels with desired content originating from one location. This new distribution method enabled Mr. Dolan to deliver a range of content offerings to the lodging establishments. One such service was Teleguide, which allowed hotels in the city to receive local information of interest to conventioneers.

    It was while wiring a hotel to pick up the Teleguide signal that Mr. Dolan recognized that the same method could be used to bring cable television to individual homes in New York, where tall buildings provided obstacles to satellite signals. In 1964, Mr. Dolan approached the city with his idea. The following year, he was awarded a franchise to wire the lower half of Manhattan -- so began Sterling Manhattan Cable.

    Knowing that his fledgling cable service needed more customers to lure more funding, in 1968, Mr. Dolan struck an unprecedented deal with Madison Square Garden to carry the New York Knicks and Rangers play-offs exclusively on cable for $24,000. This would be the first of many local programming offerings created by Charles Dolan.

    Building on this content coup, Mr. Dolan moved forward with his next programming venture, The Green Channel. This "Macy's of television," as Mr. Dolan liked to call it, was a service that would provide targeted, commercial-free sports and movie programming to those consumers willing to pay for it. To make this dream a reality, Mr. Dolan convinced Time Inc. to provide him with the money to start the new service, which was re-christened Home Box Office and launched in 1972.

    The partnership with Time Inc. ended a year later when the company exercised its buy-out option, and Mr. Dolan used the money he received to purchase a 1,500-customer cable system on Long Island: Cablevision Systems Corporation was born.

    Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Dolan divided his energy between franchising battles, and new network and programming launches. In 1986, he took Cablevision public.

    Today, Cablevision Systems Corporation is one of the nation's leading telecommunications, media and entertainment companies. Its portfolio of operations ranges from digital voice service, high-speed Internet access and robust digital cable television packages to championship professional sports teams, world-renowned entertainment venues (including Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall), and regional and national television program networks. Central to Cablevision's mission is a commitment to enrich customers' lives by providing the greatest possible choice of entertainment, sports, information, digital and telecommunications services utilizing state-of-the-art technology.

  • Chris Berman

    Save to PDF

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Chris Berman

    Sportscaster, ESPN

    Chris Berman

    In October 1979 – one month after its inception – ESPN hired a little known 24-year-old sports anchor named Chris Berman. Over the past three and a half decades, Berman has become one of America's most respected, popular, and in many ways, most beloved sportscasters of his era. A legend in the industry, Berman has also been recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his peers and countless other organizations for his exceptional contributions to sports broadcasting. With his trademark combination of genuine enthusiasm, knowledge and wit, he has come to embody ESPN in its dedication to entertaining and informing sports fans across the country. He is best known for his signature delivery of highlights in every sport, most notably on NFL Sundays.

    Six times the versatile Berman has been selected the National Sportscaster of the Year by the members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Berman, who in 1989 became the first cable sportscaster to win the award, ranks second among sportscasters in winning this award from the NSSA. Berman and his various shows have won 10 Emmy Awards and 12 CableACEs. In 2010, he received the distinguished Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his longtime contributions to radio and TV in professional football.

    Berman graduated from Brown University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He resides in his native Connecticut with his wife, Kathy. They have two grown children, Meredith and Doug.

  • Chris Lammers

  • Christiane Amanpour

    Save to PDF

      «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Christiane Amanpour

    Chief International Correspondent and Anchor
    CNN

    amanpourChristiane

    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.

  • Dan Aaron

    Save to PDF

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Dan Aaron

    Co-Founder, and former President
    Comcast Corp.
    2002 Cable Hall of Fame

    aaronDan

    We had prepared a map on which 526 pins located each of the nation’s cable systems.  As we carried this six foot exhibit into the (Senate Communications Committee) hearing room, we brushed against the doorway and most of the country’s cable systems wound up on the floor…we scurried about the hearing room for a frantic half-hour picking pins off the floor in a mad scramble to resurrect the cable industry.

    In 1963, Aaron was one of three founders of Comcast Corporation, which is today the nation’s largest cable operating company.  Using his background in economics (he holds a master’s degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania) he handled all of Comcast’s acquisitions and operations and focused his energies on regulatory and legislative issues affecting the cable industry.  He is credited with paving the way for the 1984 Cable Act.

    A member of the Cable Television Pioneers, Aaron also served on the board of NCTA for nearly 20 years, served as NCTA’s chairman in 1977-78, and has received numerous industry awards, including the NCTA Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership in 1987.

    In the early 1990’s Aaron created the Dan Aaron Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.  Dan Aaron passed away in February of 2003, at the age of 77 from long-term effects of Parkinson’s disease.

  • David M. Zaslav

     

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    David M. Zaslav

    David M. Zaslav

    President and CEO, Discovery Communications

    David Zaslav sets the strategy and oversees all operations for the company’s global portfolio of premium nonfiction, sports and kids programming brands across pay-TV, free-to-air and digital platforms in more than 220 countries and territories. Under his leadership, Discovery began trading as a public company on the Nasdaq stock exchange in 2008 and, in 2014, became a Fortune 500 company.

    Since Zaslav took the helm in 2007, Discovery has launched some of the fastest-growing cable networks in the U.S., including Investigation Discovery, Velocity, and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, and has expanded to reach 3 billion cumulative worldwide viewers.

    Zaslav has diversified the company’s nonfiction content offering with investments in kids in Latin America and sports in Europe, where he led Discovery’s acquisition of Eurosport, Europe’s leading provider of locally relevant, premium sports content. Under Zaslav’s leadership, Eurosport became home to the 2018-2024 Olympic Games across Europe.

    He has expanded Discovery’s audiences across screens through over-the-top offerings Eurosport Player and Dplay, as well as the GO portfolio of TV Everywhere apps in the U.S. Most recently, he led Discovery’s investment in Group Nine Media, a new digital content holding company, as well as a partnership with MLB Advanced Media’s BAMTech to create new digital technology provider BAMTech Europe.

    In 2016, Zaslav furthered Discovery’s purpose-driven mission with the launch of the company’s latest global conservation initiative, Project C.A.T.: Conserving Acres for Tigers.

    Prior to joining Discovery, Zaslav had a distinguished career at NBCUniversal, where he was instrumental in developing and launching CNBC and also played a role in the creation of MSNBC.

  • David N. Watson

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    David N. Watson

    David N. Watson,  President & CEO, Comcast Cable

    David N. Watson

    President & CEO
    Comcast Cable

    Growing up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., Dave Watson aspired to be a professional soccer player or coach. He played center midfield on the University of Richmond team and went so far as to get a U.S. Soccer coaching license. Although he didn’t continue in sports, building and coaching strong teams has always been important to him.

    The son of an attorney, Watson thought he might pursue a legal career while he studied political science at the University of Richmond. Instead, he got into the wireless phone business. It was 1984, and the recent breakup of AT&T had made new spectrum available. He opened a Washington, D.C. sales office for Bell Atlantic Mobile, and then moved two years later to Metrophone, a privately owned mobile company where he handled marketing and sales. By 1991, Metrophone’s owners had decided to sell the company and were entertaining a number of offers. Comcast wasn’t among the likely suitors, but was interested in getting into the mobile business. The company recruited Watson for a senior marketing job which he declined.

    A few weeks after he turned down the offer from Philadelphia, Metrophone announced it would be sold to Comcast. Assuming he was already out of favor with the new owner, Watson figured he’d soon be out of a job. When a carful of Comcast executives arrived at the office, he was ready for the axe to fall, and he was surprised when CEO and founder Ralph Roberts asked to meet with him privately. “I figured it was better to be fired by the founder than by someone who was mad at me.” Instead, he says, “Ralph told me, ‘we want you to stay.’ That was a remarkable thing for him to do for someone who was very anxious.”

    Watson joined Comcast Cellular Communications as head of sales and marketing and advanced to president. He led the company until it was sold in 1999. That’s when he entered the cable industry as Comcast Cable’s executive vice president of marketing and customer service. The industry was just starting to get real competition from DBS providers. With his experience in a highly competitive telecomm sector, Watson was the right man for the job. “I thought cable had incredible potential,” he remembers. “It was a great thing to see the engineers thinking ahead to how we’d build this next-generation network.”

    Watson moved to operations in 2004 as Comcast’s executive vice president of operations, becoming chief operating officer, then president and CEO in 2019. Along the way, he has led the transition from analog to IPTV, rolled out high-speed data, introduced gigabit speeds, and overseen the development of commercial business services. Far removed from the soccer field, Watson remains focused on his team: “If you’re part of a team, your job is to make the team successful. If you’re leading a team, make sure the members are great. Once you find opportunities, do something about them.”

  • Debra L. Lee

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Debra L. Lee

    Chairman and CEO, BET Networks, 2012 Cable Hall of Fame

    leeDebra

    Debra L. Lee is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET Networks, a unit of Viacom Inc., the leading provider of entertainment for the African-American audience and consumers of Black culture globally. Under her leadership, Ms. Lee has led the company's successful reinvigorated brand and successful programming vision that has created hits such as Let's Stay Together, The Game on BET, Black Girls Rock!, the BET Honors, Sunday Best and many more, resulting in consistent increases in viewership and revenue.

    Prior to her being named Chairman and CEO, Ms. Lee was President and Chief Operating Officer. She first joined BET as Vice President and General Counsel in 1986 after serving as an attorney with Washington, D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson, and before that a law clerk to the late Honorable Barrington Parker of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Ms. Lee serves on the corporate board of directors of Revlon, Marriott and Washington Gas & Light. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Brown University and also serves on the boards of the Paley Center for Media, the Ad Council, the Grammy Foundation, and was appointed by the White House to the President's Management Advisory Boardand is a member emeritus of the Federal Communications Commission's Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age.

    Ms. Lee earned her juris doctorate at Harvard Law School, while simultaneously earning a master's degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She graduated from Brown University with a bachelor's degree in political science with an emphasis in Asian politics. Ms. Lee resides in Washington, D.C., with her two children.

  • Decker Anstrom

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Decker Anstrom

    President & Chief Operating Officer, Landmark Comm, 2006 Cable Hall of Fame

    anstromDecker

    This really is an extraordinary American story about the cable industry and people from all different backgrounds, all different experiences, who risk everything to build this business. If you think about the impact that we've had, in terms of changing the way people learn, the way they communicate, what we've done in the schools, what we've done with C-SPAN, it's truly extraordinary.

    Decker Anstrom is president and chief operating officer of Landmark Communications, Inc. in Norfolk, Virginia, a position he has held since 2002. He also serves as chairman of The Weather Channel, which is owned by Landmark. Prior to assuming his current role, Mr. Anstrom was the president and chief executive officer of The Weather Channel in Atlanta, Georgia beginning in August 1999.

    Mr. Anstrom previously served as president and chief executive officer of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) in Washington D.C., where he acted as the industry's chief public representative and lobbyist. He joined NCTA in November 1987 and served as executive vice president before becoming president and CEO in January 1994. During his tenure, Mr. Anstrom strengthened relations with Capitol Hill and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy makers and led the cable industry's efforts that helped result in the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

    Prior to joining NCTA, Mr. Anstrom was president of Public Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy consulting firm where he directed a broad range of public policy and economic analyses for investment banking and corporate clients.

    From 1978 to 1981, Mr. Anstrom was an assistant director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, handling presidential appointments to the Cabinet and other senior political posts. Prior to this post, Mr. Anstrom was a senior staff member in the Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President, where he worked on various government reorganization projects, specifically the creation of the U.S. Department of Education.

    Mr. Anstrom graduated with a B.A. from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He also attended for one year the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

    Mr. Anstrom is a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the NCTA, and chairs NCTA's Programmers' Committee. He also serves on the board of directors of Comcast Corporation, WHRO (Hampton Roads Public Television and Radio) and the Chrysler Museum of Art. Mr. Anstrom was past chairman, of The Walter Kaitz Foundation Board of Trustees and past vice chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cable TV Advertising Bureau (CAB).

  • Decker Anstrom: 2015 Bresnan Award Honoree

    Decker Anstrom - 2015 Bresnan Award Honoree

    anstromDecker2015
    Former President
    Landmark Communications

    "The Bresnan Ethics in Business Award is not only a wonderful honor, but also a very humbling one," said Anstrom. "I loved and respected Bill so much - and the previous recipients have all been true giants of our industry."

    "Decker's leadership has helped to shape our industry into the thriving, innovating business it is today," said Bob Miron, retired chairman and chief executive officer, Bright House Networks, and chairman of the Bresnan Award selection committee. "His commitment to public service and philanthropy is unrivaled, and we are delighted to honor him with the Bresnan Ethics in Business Award."

    Decker Anstrom currently serves on the Board of Directors of Discovery Communications, as well as on the boards of several non-profit environmental groups including the Island Press, Climate Central, and Planet Forward. He also serves as chairman of the Board for the National Environmental Education Foundation, and the Institute for Educational Leadership.

    In 1987 Anstrom joined the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) as executive vice president and became president and CEO in 1994. During his tenure, he led the cable industry's efforts that helped result in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In 1999, Anstrom joined The Weather Channel Companies (TWCC) in Atlanta, GA. as president and CEO. In 2002, he became president of Landmark Communications and, in that position, he also served as chairman of TWCC. He retired as president of Landmark Communications and chairman of The Weather Channel Companies in 2008, following Landmark's sale of The Weather Channel to NBC.

    Prior to his positions at Landmark, Anstrom had a long career in public service and in the communications industry. During the Carter administration, he was a senior staff member in the White House Office of Management and Budget, working on the creation of the U.S. Department of Education. He also served in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and was president of Public Strategies, a Washington-based public policy consulting firm.

    Anstrom also served as U.S. Ambassador and Head of the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12), held under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union. WRC-12 was a treaty conference involving 150 nations that considered international and regional spectrum allocations that support satellite, mobile and other wireless services.

    In addition, Anstrom has served on numerous cable industry boards, including NCTA, which he chaired for two years, and Comcast Corporation, where he chaired the Governance Committee. He is a member of the Cable Hall of Fame and has also received numerous industry awards including the Vanguard for Leadership Award.

    Anstrom received a bachelor's degree from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and attended the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

     

     

  • Doug Dittrick

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Doug Dittrick

    President and CEO, Douglas Communications Corp, 2007 Cable Hall of Fame

    Doug Dittrick

    Mr. Dittrick is President and CEO of Douglas Communications Corporation II (DCCII), which he founded in 1986 to acquire and operate cable television companies with an emphasis in the area of cable television. DCCII currently provides consulting services in the communications and chemicals fields.

    He has been active in the cable television field since 1966 and served as Chairman of the National Cable Television Association from 1979 to 1981. In 1982, he was named Executive of the Year by Cable Television Business magazine. In 1984, he received the Vanguard Award for outstanding contributions to the cable television industry.

    A 1955 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, he has remained active at the University. He was a director of the Alumni Association for 10 years and served 2 years as President. In 1991, he was elected to the Board of Trustees and served as Vice Chair, then Chairman of the Board for 4 years. In 1993 he received the Alumni Award and was inducted into the Founders Circle in 1998.

    He is a member of Phi Gamma Delta and served as an Archon Councilor, Vice President and, in 1996-1998, he was Archon President. He was elected to the Phi Gamma Delta Educational Foundation in 2002 and served as President of the Foundation from 2004-2006.

    Mr. Dittrick recently completed six years as a member of the American Red Cross Board of Governors. He was Chairman of the Bergen-Hudson Chapter and also Chair of the New Jersey State Service Council.

    He has served as President of the Northeast Region, Boy Scouts of America, from 2003 to 2006. He was Chairman of the Ridgewood-Glen Rock Council and has received the Silver Buffalo, Silver Antelope and Silver Beaver Awards. He currently is a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America.

    He is currently Chairman of the Board of Theo's Work, an orphanage in Haiti with over 550 boys and schools for over 1400 youth in the area of Les Cayes, Haiti.

    He is the Chairman of the Board of the Valley Health System and from 1997-2001 he was Chairman of The Valley Hospital Board of Trustees. He served on the Ridgewood Board of Education from 1979-1988 and was President for five of those years. From 1979-1992 he was on the Board of Family Counseling Service. He has served as an Elder in the Community Church of Upper Ridgewood. He has also served as President of the local Rotary Club and was on the Board of the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame.

    Mr. Dittrick is currently or has served as a Director of Vornado Operating Company, Fleet Bank, N.A., DTC Communications Inc., and Atlantic Specialty Chemical Company.

    He is married to the former Barbara Slocum and they reside in Ridgewood, New Jersey. They have three daughters, all married and nine grandchildren.

  • E. Stratford Smith

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    E. Stratford Smith

    Former General Counsel, NCTA, 1999 Cable Hall of Fame

    smithStratford

    There had been a 'freeze' on the licensing of television stations for several years while the FCC was developing a city-by-city channel allocation plan so that channels could be assigned and licensed to operate with minimum interference to each other. At the time, there probably was no more than a hundred stations in the entire United States, and no UHF. By itself, the Astoria situation was just an interesting and unique solution for a small group of people 150 miles from the nearest station.

    E. Stratord "Strat" Smith played a pivotal role in outlining cable's legal framework and, as the National Cable Television Association's first general counsel, helped lead the way in getting them written into law.

    In 1949 Smith served as a staff attorney for the FCC's Common Carrier Division. When the agency began getting reports of community antenna systems popping up to deliver clearer TV to rural communities and small towns in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Arkansas and West Virginia, Smith found himself assigned to investigate. He tracked down the operators of some of the systems and decided to go visit one, picking Martin F. Malarkey's Pottsville, Pa. system because it was closest.

    Most experts at the time expected community antennas to wither away over time as UHF television, and then in its infancy, took hold. Smith's visit to Pottsville convinced him otherwise, and by 1952, he'd left the FCC to open a private practice in Washington.

    In 1952, Smith's first order of business was to frame a legal definition that would allow community antenna systems to operate without being throttled by larger industries.

    Smith argued that community antennas relayed "signals" not "programming" to subscribers who couldn't receive them over the air. Once a broadcast signal went out over the airwaves, it was free to anyone, he maintained, so CATV systems didn't need a TV station's permission to carry its signal and weren't subject to copyright fees.

    By the end of the 1950s, there were 640 CATV systems with more than 650,000 subscribers. Cable was no longer a fledgling, rural phenomenon but a growing industry that looked toward urban expansion. Large metropolitan broadcasters and movie studios saw that as a direct threat to their revenue streams. They unleashed political and legal action that would bring Smith to the most humiliating low, and exhilarating high, of his career.

    As the 1960s unfolded, a more activist FCC began regulating cable more strictly than Pastore's legislation would have dictated.

    By then, Smith's master antenna concept, which had protected the industry from regulation for years, came under increased assault, both from within the industry and outside it. He fought to keep the master antenna concept alive CATV systems were ruled not liable to pay copyright fees.

    Smith has remained a popular figure in the cable industry even past his retirement in 1972. For years after he left the NCTA, he was in frequent demand at state and regional association meetings. In 1988, he accepted an invitation to help develop the National Cable TV Center and Museum at Penn State University. Later, he was named to Penn State's Cable TV Pioneer Chair in Cable Telecommunications, a position endowed by the Cable Center.

    Future historians may well write Smith's legacy this way: First he saved cable and then he helped preserve its history.

  • Edward Allen

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Edward Allen

    Former Chairman and CEO, Western Communications, 2002 Cable Hall of Fame

    allenEdward

    They (customers) thought literally it was a miracle that we could deliver eight channels. I remember we charged $5 a month, mainly because we didn't know what else to charge. As people would come in to pay their bills each month, they would lay that $5 down on the counter and they'd say, 'That's the best $5 I spend every month.'

    Elected to the Hall of Fame posthumously, Allen began his career in the cable industry in 1958 as general manager of the cable system in Winona, MN, one of the first cable systems in the state. He became a well-known figure in the cable industry, building two of the nation's first broadband cable systems in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He served for 21 years as chairman and CEO of Western Communications, Inc. and is known in the cable industry for advocating on behalf of the cable customer and delivering excellent service in his cable systems.

    Before entering the cable television industry, Allen served in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II and attended St. Mary's College in Winona, Minnesota.  Allen joined the staff of radio station KWNO in Winona in 1952 as a radio time salesman,  Two years later, he was appointed General Manager of the station and held this position until 1958.

    Allen was the founder and served as the first president of the North Central Cable Television Association, and served as chairman of both NCTA and C-SPAN. He received numerous industry awards and honors, including the California Cable Television Association Award in 1982, NCTA's President's Award in 1985 and 1992 and the Cable Television Business Magazine Executive of the Year Award in 1984 and 1990.

  • Eleanor Winter

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Eleanor Winter

    Senior Vice President, NCTA

    Eleanor Winter

    Eleanor Winter has been a part of the cable television industry for twenty five years. She presently serves as Senior Vice President at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. Prior to joining NCTA, Eleanor worked for two United States Senators, Senator John Stennis from Mississippi and Senator Paul Simon, from Illinois. She then moved into the public relations world at the firm, Cribben, Miller and Moses.

    At NCTA, she is responsible for the cable television industry's political action committee, CablePAC. When Eleanor was first hired, CablePAC membership totaled 163 people, representing 30 cable companies with annual receipts of $185,000.

    Today, thanks to the leadership of the NCTA Board, the work of the CablePAC Committee and the generous support of the industry, the membership is made up of more than 2800 cable executives, representing over 100 companies and annual receipts total well over $2 million.

    In 1999, for the first time, CablePAC earned the ranking of the number one telecommunications association PAC and has stayed in that position ever since. More than $30 million has been raised and distributed to Federal campaigns since she was hired.

    Eleanor was born and raised in Mississippi and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ole Miss.

    She currently serves on the Board of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. She also serves as a mentor for young men and women in the cable industry through the WICT mentorship program.

    .

  • Frank Drendel

    «  BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Frank Drendel - 2002 Cable Hall of Fame Honoree

    Chairman and CEO, CommScope, Inc., 2002 Cable Hall of Fame

    drendelFrank

    I've got in my home a wooden pole, cut in a three-inch section, hanging in my room with a little plaque of the first legislation the cable industry ever got -- the pole attachment bill. That broke the cable industry open.

    Frank M. Drendel has served as chairman and chief executive officer of North Carolina-based CommScope, Inc. since 1997, following the company's spin-off from General Instrument Corporation. Drendel served as president and chairman of CommScope, Inc. of North Carolina from 1986 to 1997 and chief executive officer of CommScope, Inc. of North Carolina since 1976.

    Drendel served on the Board of Directors of General Instrument Corporation of Delaware, Inc. (a subsidiary of General Instrument Corporation), and its predecessors from 1987 to 1992 and was a director of General Instrument Corporation from 1992 until the company's spin-off in 1997 and from 1997 until its merger with Motorola in 2000.

    In addition to serving as a director on Nextel's Board, Drendel is a member of the board of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA). An active member of several NCTA committees, Drendel has been a recipient of various NCTA awards including the Challenger Award, the Associates Award and the President's Award.

    In 1999, Drendel was presented with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian award given by the state of North Carolina.

    Drendel graduated in 1970 from Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Marketing.

  • Frank M. Drendel : 2017 Bresnan Award Honoree

    Frank M. Drendel  2017 Bresnan Award Honoree

    Frank M. Drendel  2017 Bresnan Award Honoree

    2019 Frank Drendel

    Chairman of the Board and Founder
    CommScope, Inc.

    Frank M. Drendel is chairman of the board of CommScope and company founder. Mr. Drendel served as the company’s chief executive officer from his founding of the company in 1976 as a North Carolina corporation based in Hickory until the acquisition of CommScope by The Carlyle Group in January 2011 that took the company private. He has served as chairman since 1997, when CommScope was spun-off from General Instrument Corporation (subsequently renamed General Semiconductor, Inc.) and became an independent, publicly-traded company on the NYSE.

    Mr. Drendel’s entrepreneurial drive and business vision led to his acquiring a struggling cable product line called Comm/Scope from his then-employer, Superior Continental, and launching a stand-alone company in 1976. This same drive and vision has guided CommScope for nearly four decades—under Mr. Drendel’s leadership, CommScope has grown to be a multi-billion dollar global leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks, with a whos-who roster of customers that spans the globe. Through organic growth and the transformational acquisitions of Avaya Connectivity Solutions in 2004, Andrew Corporation in 2007, and TE Broadband Network Solutions in 2015, the company under Mr. Drendel established leadership positions in key markets—wireless, business enterprise, telecom and cable television/residential broadband—that continue today.

    While at CommScope, Mr. Drendel also served as a director of GI Delaware, a subsidiary of General Instrument Corporation, and its predecessors from 1987 to 1992, a director of General Instrument Corporation from 1992 until 1997, and a director of NextLevel Systems, Inc. (which was renamed General Instrument Corporation) from 1997 until January 2000. Prior to his founding of the company, Mr. Drendel held various positions within the Comm/Scope division of Superior Continental from 1971 to 1976.

    Mr. Drendel is a director of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the principal trade association of the cable industry in the United States, and the SCTE Executive Council. Mr. Drendel previously served as a director of Sprint Nextel Corporation from 2005 to 2008 and as a director of Nextel Communications, Inc. from 1997 to 2005. He also served on the board of directors for Tyco International, Ltd., The Cable Center and C-SPAN.

    An active member of several National Cable & Telecommunications Association committees, Mr. Drendel has been a recipient of various NCTA awards, including the Challenger Award, Associates Award and the President’s Award. In addition, Mr. Drendel has received numerous prestigious honors for his contributions to the industry, including:

    • Induction into the Cable Center Hall of Fame, the cable television industry’s highest honor, in 2002.
    • An Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development in 1985 for his and M/A-Com Corporation’s (of which CommScope was a subsidiary) contribution to anti-pirating satellite TV encryption and scrambling technology.
    • The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian award given by the State of North Carolina, in 1999.
    • The 2013 North Carolina Technology Association Outstanding Achievement Award.

    Mr. Drendel graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, and has been a mentor and leader in the cable television and telecommunications industry during his entire career.

     

  • Gail Sermersheim

    Save to PDF

      BACK TO PAST HONOREES

    Gail Sermersheim

    Former SVP & GM, HBO-Atlanta, Co-Founder, CTAM, 2002 Cable Hall of Fame

    sermersheimGail

    I think that's one of the things that makes this industry truly great the camaraderie that it has. It's like no other that I've certainly come into contact with. Through those two organizations (CTAM and WICT) there have been bonds built between people that have served them very, very well in their business careers.

    During 23 years as an executive with HBO, Sermersheim built and maintained a highly respected affiliate relations, sales and marketing team in the Southeast. She began in cable as Marketing Director for Telesis, a Midwestern MSO. Throughout her career on both the operating and programming side of cable, she has given extremely active service to numerous industry organizations and activities. She is credited with founding WICT and serving as its first president and was also a co-founder of CTAM. While serving for years an officer or director of both organizations, she was instrumental in developing many of their programs and activities. Sermersheim is widely recognized as a strong role model for women and a champion of cable television marketing.

    Sermersheim is currently Secretary and a member of the executive committee of the Board of Directors of the Cable Center. She has received numerous industry awards during her career including the NCTA Vanguard Award in 1980, WICT's Woman of the Decade Award, the President's Award from CTAM in 1982 and it's One of a Kind Award in 1996. WICT has also honored her for her leadership and dedication to the organization by naming an award in her honor which recognizes past WICT national board members who have shown continued support and leadership to the organization, and by naming her it's 1999 Annual Gala Honoree.