Christy Carpenter's new job as executive director of the Museum of Television & Radio's media center is just another manifestation of her passion for technology.
Following law school — and a stint clerking for Federal Appellate Judge Tom C. Clark — she found herself at the U.S. Commerce Department, as special assistant to the Secretary of International Trade. With the advent of VCRs, cable TV and satellite, she saw opportunities.
"I decided that I wanted to leave what would have been the natural path for me."
She signed on with QUBE — cable's 1980s precursor to the likes of pay-per-view, video-on-demand and ITV — working with industry pioneer Gus Hauser to promote his idea for interactive cable in Columbus, Ohio.
Carpenter then moved on to online-services pioneer Prodigy, shaping its applications and convincing companies to take to the Web. At Telaction, Carpenter took advantage of international business exposure to develop a cable-based interactive service, but a failed beta test made Carpenter feel "a little too far ahead of the game."
It must have been an unfamiliar sensation for someone whose parents ran a Washington, D.C., news bureau for Variety. "From the early days, I was interested in media."
That interest might have reached its zenith in 1998, when President Clinton appointed her vice chairwoman of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. There, she worked to convert public stations to digital.
She noted that the CPB prides itself on being a neutral forum — a tack she hopes to take to the media center, which convenes executives, technologists and the creative community. "I'm looking forward to really making the media center the pre-eminent forum for industry leaders to discuss the important issues," she said.