Dish Network president John Reardon resigned abruptly last
week, after only eight months in his post as head of one of three divisions at EchoStar
In a statement issued late last Tuesday, EchoStar said
Reardon's resignation is effective Sept. 30.
"John's contributions to the growth of Dish
Network have helped to position EchoStar as a leader in the DBS [direct-broadcast
satellite] industry," said Charlie Ergen, chairman and CEO of EchoStar, in the
statement. "We thank him and wish him all the best in his future endeavors."
There was no mention of a new position for Reardon at
another company, nor an immediate replacement for him. Instead, Ergen and other EchoStar
executives will take over Reardon's duties, which had focused primarily on marketing
Although he was not a company legend like Ergen, Reardon
had achieved a certain level of visibility with dealers and subscribers as co-host of the
monthly on-air "Charlie Chats."
During a regularly scheduled subscriber chat last Tuesday
night, Ergen explained that the reason why Reardon wasn't appearing that night was
because he was leaving Dish Network.
EchoStar spokeswoman Judianne Atencio said Reardon told
Ergen that he was leaving the company last Monday night.
"He just decided that it wasn't the right fit for
him," she said. "An entrepreneurial company is not right for everybody. The
hours are long. Just because this is a lifestyle for all of us doesn't mean that
it's right for everybody."
Atencio predicted that Reardon would find the right fit
somewhere else, noting that he had worked as a consultant before joining EchoStar.
Common wisdom within the industry was that Ergen has so
much day-to-day control over the company that it's hard for a president to come in
and play second fiddle.
"For better or worse, Charlie is a very involved CEO
in both the forest and the trees," said Barbara Sullivan, president of Denver-based
B.G. Marketing and a one-time EchoStar employee under former president Carl Vogel's
tenure. "Charlie really runs the ship."
Vogel is now chairman and CEO at rival DBS company
Mickey Alpert, president of Washington, D.C.-based Alpert
and Associates, said he doesn't think that Reardon's exit is an indictment of
Ergen or EchoStar. "It's a matter of style," he added.
Some former EchoStar employees and other Denver-area
sources suggested that it wasn't merely a clash between two strong leaders that led
to Reardon's exit, but that Reardon's management style had alienated the staff,
who were already overstressed from working long hours.
Alpert predicted that the true story of why Reardon left
the company will never come out. He called Reardon "a good guy," adding that his
experience at EchoStar will likely serve him well in the future.
Reardon did not return two calls placed to an office where
he had worked previously and where he had his voice on the answering machine.
Reardon -- who had previously served as president of MTV:
Music Television and of Zing TV, a start-up interactive-television outfit -- had filled a
post left absent when Carl Vogel resigned as president in March 1997. The position was
open for the rest of the year, during which time EchoStar continued to raise significant
funding, drove up its subscriber counts, launched a third satellite and created a
local-into-local broadcast plan.
Atencio said that while there will likely be a successor to
Reardon in the long-term, it's not a priority for the company now. "We're
more worried about the fall selling season," she added.
"I don't know what value a president lends to the
company when Charlie's so involved," Sullivan said.
Others predicted that it may take EchoStar some time to
attract a new president, following the relatively short tenures of the last two.
But executives at EchoStar's headquarters in
Littleton, Colo., appeared to be taking the recent events in stride.
"It's always tough when somebody leaves,"
Atencio said, "but it's a nonissue here. Life goes on."