Cable pioneer Jim Ackerman, the former CEO of Cardinal Communications who later became a top deal broker through leadership positions in his own firms and with Communications Equity Associates, died on March 2 in Carmel, Indiana. He was 88 years old.
A U.S. Army veteran, Ackerman was CEO of Cardinal Communications, a provider of cable service throughout the state of Indiana from 1971 to 1993. According to an obituary in the Indianapolis-Star, Ackerman was vice chairman of cable broker Communications Equity Associates from 1984 to 1988 and was an advisor to Merrill Lynch from 1984 to 1987, assisting that company in taking five cable-related companies public.
In a 2002 interview with the Cable Center, Ackerman was said to be one of the prime movers in the early days of financing cable operators, arranging loans for soon-to-be cable legends like Bob Magness, John Malone, Bill Daniels and others. Ackerman was part of the 1977 class of Cable Pioneers.
A graduate of Purdue University, Ackerman also was a philanthropist, creating the James F. Ackerman Center for Democratic Citizenship at the school in 1994. He also made significant gifts to the University to endow a chair in the department of Agriculture as well as to renovate the school's south golf course, now known as Ackerman Hills.
In 2004, in recognition of his long-standing support to the University, he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Education degree.
Shortly after selling Cardinal Communications in 1993, he formed The Ackerman Foundation to improve the welfare of his local and national community.
In 1995, Ackerman received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award for his philathropic efforts from then-Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh.
Ackerman is survived by his wife of 65 years Lois, daughters, Barbara (Brian) Nicholoff and Leslie, and son John (Kathy); four grandchildren, Philip James Nicholoff, Justin Nicholoff, Allison Ackerman, and Jeffrey Ackerman.
James Ackerman photo courtesy The Cable Center Barco Library.