Ryan Glover, president of Bounce TV, the year-old broadcast network geared toward African-Americans, caught the entertainment bug when he left his home in the Oakland–San Francisco Bay Area and went to college at Howard University.
His classmates at the Washington D.C., school included Mark Pitts, now president of urban music at Sony’s RCA Music Group, and Sean “Diddy” Combs who, among many projects, is now at work on his own cable network.
At Howard, Glover was recruited by student body president Kasim Reed, who is now mayor of Atlanta, to put on a homecoming concert in 1988. The event was a success, and more followed.
“I can’t rap or sing, or dance for that matter, to save my life, so if I was going to make it in the music business I knew I’d have to be on the business side of the business,” Glover says.
Glover graduated from Howard with a degree in accounting and worked briefly in the field before deciding to follow Reed to Atlanta, a hotbed for African-American music talent.
When he called his mother, a normally docile woman, to tell her that he hated accounting, “she cursed me out for 30 straight minutes” before calming down and giving him the goahead to follow his dream.
In Atlanta, Glover hooked up with an old friend from the Bay Area who had a recording studio called Noontime Recording. They built a publishing and production business that discovered the singer Ciara and put out hits with T.I., Mary J. Blige and Usher.
In 1993, Glover left the music business and founded an upscale clothing line with childhood friend Kenny Burns called RyanKenny that was a joint venture with Jay-Z and Damon Dash’s Rocawear. When Jay-Z sang “Change Clothes” in 2005, the brand could have blown up, but the company’s Italian suppliers could not keep up with demand and the business didn’t survive.
Chapter Three of Glover’s career brought him to television. “We were trying to figure out how do we reach urban audiences and how do we diversify our programming,” says Mark Lazarus, the former president of Turner Entertainment who is now chairman of the NBC Sports Group.
Lazarus was introduced to Glover through a mutual friend. They hit it off, and Lazarus hired Glover as a consultant at Turner. “I admire him for his ability to adapt and to learn,” Lazarus says. “[Glover] said to me, ‘I know music, I know pop culture. I want to learn television because I believe I can bring it all together.’ And he’s done that.”
At Turner, Glover spearheaded the production of original content for local station WTBS (known as Peachtree TV) and cable such as Dallas Austin’s Drumroll (about marching bands), BET’s musical competition show Welcome to Dreamland and The Sprite Step-Off for MTV.
After Glover left Turner, he got back together with Lazarus, then with Atlanta marketing agency CSE, to put together a team to launch a network for the under-served African- American audience. Glover helped bring former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III in as backers of Bounce, which launched last September.
“A lot of what creates success is developing and building relationships, and Ryan has the kind of personality that can bring people together. His focus and persistence also will create success,” says King, adding that he was drawn to Bounce partly because it would provide programming free to an under-served audience.
Bounce debuted with an airing of The Wiz, a movie with deep cultural relevance to its audience as well as personal relevance for Glover. He has a picture of himself playing Nipsey Russell’s Tin Man character in a school play, and his 10-year-old son played Michael Jackson’s Scarecrow part around the time of the launch.
Bounce has quickly gained distribution. One year after it was announced, the network now reaches about 72% of African-American homes, airing mostly theatrical movies, acquired series such as Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and college sports.
“At every turn, we’ve overachieved at this early stage,” says King, who is looking forward to Bounce adding original content. “That’s what’s really going to thrust us into the future.”
“My expectation is they’ll work with the incredible creative contacts Ryan has and [add] original content to build a more contemporary program service,” says Lazarus.
Glover says Bounce has a stand-up comedy format in pre-production and a weekly hourlong music video show in pre-development. The network is also planning to air boxing and live concerts.
“What drives me is taking an idea or a talent in its rawest form and sculpting it to fill a niche for a marketplace.” Glover says. “At Bounce, it’s beautiful that we can speak to and influence over 60 million people a day in a positive and responsible way.”
All the activity at the net makes it tough to carve out family time. Glover works out with his eldest son, an accomplished quarterback already at 12, and accompanies him to all-star camps. He says he’s also developed a passion for cooking. “That’s how I get out of the doghouse with my wife,” he says. “Make a great meal, buy a bottle of wine, and the rest is history.”
Could a cooking show be on Bounce TV’s radar? “I’ve been looking at them,” Glover says. “I’ve been pitched, but I haven’t found the right one.”
E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: @jlafayette
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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