The cable industry’s revered list of Hall of Fame members now stands at 59 and includes a veritable library of stories, personalities and entrepreneurial risk-taking ventures that have shaped the business.
Innovation, creativity, vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and plain old hard work are the words generally used to describe the industry’s pioneers — individuals who laid the groundwork in the late 1940s and early 1950s when cable was in its infancy — and the generations of Hall of Fame inductees that have followed in their footsteps.
This year’s group of inductees reflect all those characteristics. And though it’s another time and a far more mature industry, their stamp on cable will endure.
The class of 2006 includes:
- Decker Anstrom, who worked tirelessly for passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act (the Cable Act) while at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
- Ralph Baruch, who fled Europe during World War II and went on to lead Viacom International as its chairman.
- Carolyn Chambers, a true pioneer, who in 1959 began her cable career with a license for KEZI-TV in Eugene, Ore., later to became Liberty Communications.
- Judy McGrath, whose inspiration and creative leadership have made MTV Networks a household name around the globe.
- Jim Robbins, whose thoughtful dedication to his employees and diverse leadership skills at Cox Communications Inc. have inspired an entire industry.
- Brian Roberts, who has guided Comcast Corp. to become the industry’s largest operator.
- Bob Zitter, who traded in medical school for a career in cable and is now HBO’s chief technology officer.
“The class of 2006 joins a prestigious group of cable executives who have made a significant contribution to our industry, and embody the spirit of cable, an industry founded by entrepreneurs with the talent to turn a vision into reality. We celebrate their efforts and achievements and welcome them into cable’s Hall of Fame,” said Larry Satkowiak, president and CEO of The Cable Center.
The 2006 class joins an honor roll that includes cable icons such as George Barco, Bill Daniels, Glenn Jones, Walter Kaitz, Gerald Levin, Milton Shapp, Sid Topol and Ted Turner, among others.
Along with its hosting the Hall of Fame celebration, The Cable Center provides several programs beneficial to the industry, and has become a leading center for the industry’s educational and historical efforts.
For example, it connects college campuses nationwide, and links cable executives to students, faculty, and the public with the Maverick’s Lecture Series.
The Distance Learning Class, in conjunction with C-SPAN and the University of Denver, connects political science and communications students with high-level government officials, journalists, and media experts. The Center is looking to expand the class to other universities.
In addition, the Center is working with the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and Cox to create an MBA concentration in customer care. And the Center’s redesigned Web site now has oral histories from hundreds of cable’s visionaries.
“Since the release of our new strategic plan, especially in the area of higher education, the response from the cable industry and beyond has been very positive,” Satkowiak said. “We want to deliver on our mission statement, and we believe the Center is headed in the right direction. There’s a spirit of cooperation, that we’re here to help the industry and they want to help. With that attitude, we’re bound to succeed.”