The Cable TV Pioneers, a group founded in 1966 to celebrate the entrepreneurial accomplishments of the men and women who built the cable industry, has grown to more than 700 members. The newest members will be inducted on Monday, Oct. 11. (The event was scheduled ahead of the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Atlanta, the in-person component of which was canceled due to concerns stemming from the surge of the COVID-19 delta variant.) The ceremony returns to in-person status after being held virtually a year ago.
“Just as our industry rose to the challenge of keeping America connected this past year, these men and women continued to make significant contributions on their business, home and community fronts,” Pioneer chairman Dave Fellows said when the class was revealed in June. “The Class of 2021 exemplifies the Pioneer spirit and commitment to do the best no matter the circumstances.”
Last year’s Pioneers ceremony was the first-ever cable trade TV show broadcast and streamed, with credit going to C-SPAN co-CEOs and Pioneers Susan Swain and Rob Kennedy, produced by New England Sports Network, led by NESN President and Pioneer Sean McGrail.
The group intends to stream the Monday, Oct. 11 program on YouTube and on CableTVPioneers.com, which will continue to play the show after the event.
Here are brief profiles of the 24 new inductees in the Cable TV Pioneers. For more about the group and the event, please visit cabletvpioneers.com.
Mark Adams is Director, Outside Plant Engineering & Architectures for Cox Communications, a position he has held for the past three and a half years. Before joining Cox, he was a Principal of SFA Technical Services Group, providing consulting services to cable operators and vendors, including Comcast and Cox. Prior to forming SFA Services, he spent 29 years with Scientific Atlanta/Cisco Systems, rising through the ranks to VP of Applications and Sales Engineers, VP of Quality and VP of SciCare Services.
A member of SCTE for three decades, Adams was elevated to the position of Senior Member in 2018 and currently serves as President of the Chattahoochee Chapter along with several national committees.
Michael B. Adams
Michael B. Adams is President of Broadband Semantics Consulting. From 1993-2001, he was Senior Project Engineer and VP, Network Architecture with Time Warner Cable.
In 2001, he was named VP of Road Runner Engineering. In 2003, he joined Terayon Communications as VP, Technology & Architecture, and in 2006 was named VP, Systems Architecture for Tandberg Television.
Adams is the author of Open Cable Architecture (2001 SCTE Book of the Year) and is a co-author of Modern Cable Television Technology 2nd Edition with Jim Farmer and David Large. Adams holds nine communications-related patents, focused on network scaling, video inversion techniques and bandwidth optimization.
Richard Amell began his 40-year-plus cable career with Cox Communications in March of 1970. He was the Chief Technician for Cox systems in Indiana and New York before moving to the company’s corporate drafting and design department in Atlanta.
Richard moved to MetroVision in September of 1979 as VP, Engineering, where he remained for more than 15 years before accepting a similar position with Time Warner Cable’s National Division. In October of 2010, he was named Corporate VP, Video Engineering & Operations for Bright House Networks.
He has held a number of leadership positions with SCTE, including five years as the Chattahoochee Chapter President.
Peter Barton was Adviser and Personal Assistant to John Malone at Tele-Communications Inc. from 1982-1986. From 1986-1991, he served as President of the Home Shopping Network (later QVC). From 1991-1997, he served as Co-Founder, President and CEO of Liberty Media, shepherding and investing in Discovery Communications, Time Warner, Turner, Starz, Fox Sports, HSN and BET. On Sept. 8, 2002, he died of cancer. He would now be 70 years old.
Patricia Baughman is the sole National Advertising Sales Manager for Cable One, working there since March of 2008. Pat began her cable journey in 1980 as Production Manager with Storer Communications in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In July of 1984, she joined and spent four years at TV Guide before spending 15 years with Lifetime as Regional VP, Distribution & Affiliate Relations.
At Cable One, she has received the President’s Club Award for Exceptional Sales Performance on eight occasions over the last 12 years and this year, the coveted Sales Leadership Award.
Tracy Baumgartner is VP of Business Process Effectiveness for Comcast Cable, leading the development and implementation of the company’s environmental sustainability strategy. Starting at Mind Extension University in 1992, she moved to Jones InterCable’s corporate headquarters in 1996. She joined Comcast in 2002 as Public Relations Manager. Following Comcast’s acquisition of AT&T Broadband in 2002, she became VP of Communications for Comcast’s West Division. In 2011, she moved to Philadelphia to help lead the corporation’s philanthropic program as Executive Director of Community Investment, then helped create the corporation’s environmental sustainability program.
John (Jack) A. Capparell
John (Jack) A. Capparell joined Service Electric Cable in 1965 as a technician 57 years ago. Through the years, he has been promoted from Technical Service Manager, Operations Manager, Systems Manager and has served as General Manager since 1984.
During his career he has been involved with many early industry developments including Service Electric’s 1976 launch of HBO.
He has served as an officer of the Pennsylvania Cable Association, now BCAP, for eight years and was the Chairman of the Regulatory Affairs Committee and the Chairman of the State Pole Attachment committee.
Sherita Ceasar is Senior VP, Technology Environments &
Strategy for Comcast NBCUniversal. She had previously been the company’s Senior VP of National Video Deployment Engineering. She began her cable journey in 1996 with Scientific Atlanta after eight years with Motorola’s Paging Division. While with SA, she served as VP, Quality Assurance and VP of Sci-Care Broadband Services.
In May of 2004, she joined Charter Communications as VP, General Manager of Georgia Key Market Area Region. Later, she joined Comcast as VP of Product Engineering; she has been there for more than 14 years. In her executive role with the Employee Resource Group of the Black Employees Network (BEN), she provides strategic guidance and support for members.
Kristin Dolan is Founder and CEO of 605, a leading television and cross-platform measurement, analytics and attribution company. She founded 605 in 2016, bringing nearly 30 years of media and entertainment experience to her role with the company.
She began her career in 1990 at Rainbow Media, now AMC Networks, where she held a variety of sales and marketing positions throughout the years. She later served as Chief Operating Officer of Cablevision Systems, leading all of the company’s cable operations. She also oversaw Cablevision Media Sales, the company’s advertising sales division.
She was recognized as a Multichannel News Wonder Woman in 2004 and was a recipient of the NCTA’s Distinguished Vanguard Award for Leadership in 2016.
Dale Elifrits is Regional VP, Network Engineering for Comcast’s Greater Philadelphia Region, a position he has held for the past five years. From January of 2007 to August of 2010, he was Tech Operations VP for the company’s Houston Region. Prior to that Dale was Tech Operations VP for the company’s Western New England Region.
His early cable adventures were as a lineman for a family contracting business, where he spent three years building out cable plant before joining Heritage Cablevision in 1983 as a Technical Supervisor and Operations Manager. After TCI acquired Heritage, then later sold to AT&T, he became Director of Engineering for AT&T Broadband in South Puget Sound and eventually Director, Technical Operations for AT&T Broadband in Dallas.is Regional VP, Network Engineering for Comcast’s Greater Philadelphia Region, a position he has held for the past five years. From January of 2007 to August of 2010, he was Tech Operations VP for the company’s Houston Region. Prior to that Dale was Tech Operations VP for the company’s Western New England Region.
His early cable adventures were as a lineman for a family contracting business, where he spent three years building out cable plant before joining Heritage Cablevision in 1983 as a Technical Supervisor and Operations Manager. After TCI acquired Heritage, then later sold to AT&T, he became Director of Engineering for AT&T Broadband in South Puget Sound and eventually Director, Technical Operations for AT&T Broadband in Dallas.
Diego Martin Gastaldi
Diego Martin Gastaldi is Managing Director with VMware. Prior to joining VMWare in
May of 2020, Diego was Managing Director of Cloud IT with Cisco Systems. His industry journey began in June of 1992 as a Field Engineer with General Instrument’s Jerrold Communications unit. He would later join ADC Communications as Senior Regional Manager for Latin America.
In September of 1998, he was named Scientific Atlanta’s Director of Business Development for Europe, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific Region.
John Higginbotham Jr.
John Higginbotham Jr. is Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer of ACA Connects. He previously served as Executive VP, Member Services and Chief of Staff.
In 1994, he began his cable career operating the local origination channels for the Frankfort Plant Board (FPB) in Kentucky. He then managed the launch of ad sales and marketing and, in 1997, added video programming and regulatory responsibilities. He moved to the operations side in 2000. In 2002, John was promoted to Telecom Superintendent and managed the day-to-day activities of the telecom system at FPB. In 2013, he moved into the administrative role of Assistant GM. He retired from FPB in 2017.
Jim Holanda is a veteran of 33 years in the cable industry having begun his career as a Technician with Comcast Cable in 1988. He joined Charter Communications in 1998 and became a Regional VP, then moved to Patriot Media in 2003 as President. He is CEO of Astound Broadband, which includes Patriot
Media, RCN, Grande Communications and Wave Broadband.
He has been actively involved in industry organizations and associations throughout his career and is a current member of the NCTC Board of Directors. A former member of the Board of the Missouri Cable & Telecommunications Association and Mid-Atlantic Association, he has assisted the ACA Connects team with its industry lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.
Richard (Dick) Kirsche
Richard (Dick) Kirsche began his nearly 55-year cable journey as VP, Engineering with Spectrum Cable in western Massachusetts. He had spent the previous 10 years designing broadcast transmitters and satellite ground stations. When Spectrum was acquired by Colony Communications in March of 1975, he was named the MSO’s Director of Engineering.
He moved to Greater Media’s Cable division in January of 1982 as VP, Engineering where he was instrumental in the company’s franchising efforts in Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. He moved to RCN in June of 2000 as Director, Video Network Technology before moving to Comcast as Director of Video Engineering in 2005. He formed Kirsche Consulting in 2010 but continued working with Comcast to refine their work on making set-tops more sufficient.
Chris Lammers is the Chief Operating Officer and Senior VP of Member Development for CableLabs. He had come to CableLabs in 1997 from Western Communications where he had been President and CEO. He was previously Senior VP and General Counsel for Western. Prior to his 11 years with Western, he was Associate Counsel and Partner at Cooper, White & Cooper, focusing on mergers and acquisitions and other initiatives for the firm’s cable clients.
Today at CableLabs, he is responsible for operations member development and international relationships. Under his leadership, CableLabs has tripled its memberships in 35 countries in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
Filemon Lopez was Senior VP, Strategic Operations for Comcast prior to his retirement in July of 2016. He had previously served nine years as Comcast’s Southeast Florida Regional VP and earlier as President of Comcast University. He began his career in the cable industry in 1983 as Production Manager for the Advertising Rep firm Phoenix Cable. In 1985, he was named Advertising Sales Manager for Storer’s Dade-Broward, Florida region, building that territory over the next three years before moving to Georgia to head Cox Cable’s Mid-State Advertising Interconnect.
Wonya Lucas is President and CEO for Crown Media Family Network. She began her cable career in 1994 with Turner, as a Senior Manager in Corporate Marketing. She was later promoted to Director and then toVP, Entertainment Marketing.
In 1997, she was named VP, Business Operations for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies. She then became the Senior VP President, Marketing and Research for CNN Worldwide.
She moved to the Weather Channel in 2002 as Executive VP, Strategic Marketing and then General Manager. She later joined Discovery Communications as Executive VP, Chief Marketing Officer and then Chief Operating Officer for Discovery and Science Channels. In 2011, she became the President and CEO of TV One; she founded Lucas Strategic Consulting in 2013 before accepting the position of President and CEO of Public Broadcasting Atlanta.
Amy Maclean has been with Cablefax and Access Intelligence for the past 21 years. She joined the company in 2000 as Editor and is currently Editorial Director, a position she assumed in November of 2015 after serving five years as Editor-in-Chief. Prior to signing on with Access Intelligence, Amy was a news reporter in Atlanta, Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama.
Jim McCauley is a Principal and President of dB Communications Sales Services. After a tour in the Merchant Marine in the mid 1970s, he joined Henkles & McCoy as a Field Engineer. In 1983, he moved into Sales and Operations with a tower firm, then in 1987 to Director of Sales for the Jerrold division of General Instrument, where his portfolio included planning and implementing a 3,500-mile new build in Sacramento.
In 1994, he purchased dB Communications, a manufacturer’s representative for multiple lines of optical cable, RF and digital electronics and ethernet test equipment.
An SCTE member throughout his career, McCauley and dB Communications have provided financial support and participated in cable events such as SCTE’s “Cable Games” where he served as a judge on many occasions.
Thomas McMillin’s introduction to cable television was in 1983, while with Arthur Andersen on assignment with Cencom Cable. He subsequently joined the company as VP, Finance, Corporate Development and spent five years at Cencom before joining Crown Cable as VP, Corporate Development. In 1993, he joined Marcus Cable as Executive VP, Chief Financial Officer.
He rejoined the industry in 2006 when he became Executive VP, Chief Operating Officer of Suddenlink Communications. He served in this leadership role, and on the board of directors, successfully growing Suddenlink to employ more than 6,500 team members while serving 1.5 million customers and enjoying one of the industry’s highest customer satisfaction scores.
John Erick Roos
John Erick Roos is Executive VP, Corporate Communications and Research for INSP, LLC. His cable journey began in August 1977 with the Christian Broadcasting Network, where he helped launch what became the Family Channel. His positions ranged from Director of Marketing Services to VP Marketing. He joined INSP in January 1994 as Vice President, Marketing, after serving three years as Executive VP with Z Music Television.
Robert S. Scanlon
Robert S. Scanlon career has spanned decades in the creation,
launch or rebranding of multiple cable programming ventures. Scanlon has developed ground-breaking production techniques and programming strategies that have raised the value of cable programming.
His work has been recognized with nine national Emmy Awards. Most
recently, he served as President of Velocity Motor Trend, a division of
As a consultant with the National Football League, Scanlon was instrumental
in the launching of NFL Network, including the service’s branding and logos, as well as its initial programming content and scheduling strategies.
Patricia (Patsy) Smullin
Patsy Smullin is President of California Oregon Broadcasting, which includes ownership of cable systems, broadcast stations and a digital production company. She has been with the company since her graduation from college. Smullin has worked in management and ownership in the cable industry from the mid-1960s to 2017.
She was VP and part owner of Southern Oregon Cable Television in Oregon and Humboldt Bay Cable Television in Northern California from 1973-1982. She was later President and owner of Crestview Cable from 1982-2017.
She was president of the Oregon Cable Television Association and the Northwest Cable Television Association, covering Oregon, Idaho and Washington.
R. Thomas Umstead
R. Thomas Umstead is Senior Content Producer for Broadcasting+Cable and Multichannel News.
Umstead joined the Multichannel News staff in 1987 and has served as the publication’s Programming Editor and Pay-Per-View and Sports Editor, as well as its Multimedia Editor.
Previous assignments include Sports Editor for Cablevision magazine and contributing editor with Video Business magazine. He has served on the Board of NAMIC and has worked with numerous cable industry organizations including WICT, the Emma Bowen Foundation, NCTA, T. Howard Foundation and Future Now Media Foundation.
He has served as a moderator and panelist for CTAM, NATPE and the Walter Kaitz Foundation and is a 20-year member of the Television Critics Association. A tireless community advocate, Umstead served on a local NAACP chapter and with the National Association of Black Journalists.
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