Honoring the Past,Looking Ahead
The Cable Hall of Fame this year welcomes
a pioneering woman cable operator, an innovative
technologist, a high-profile sports executive, a
40-year veteran of cable operations, a programmer
whose influence continues to grow and the visionary
founder of one of Canada’s great cable companies.
The hall, a permanent exhibit housed at The Cable
Center in Denver, has admitted 78 members into its
ranks since 1998. Inductees are selected by an anonymous
committee of cable executives on the basis of
their leadership, innovation and contributions to the
people, organizations and institutions served by cable
This year’s inductees are: Yolanda Barco, former
vice president and executive officer, Meadville Master
Antenna (deceased); Allen Ecker, executive vice
president of Scientific-Atlanta (retired); Terence F.
McGuirk, chairman and CEO of Major League Baseball’s
Atlanta Braves; Marc B. Nathanson, chairman,
Mapleton Investments; Abbe Raven, president and
CEO, A&E Television Networks; and JR Shaw, executive
chair, Shaw Communications.
“We are honored to welcome these six visionaries
into the Cable Hall of Fame,” Cable Center chairman
Michael Willner, also chairman of the Hall’s selection
committee, said in a statement announcing the
class. “Their hard work and thought leadership have
helped to shape and strengthen the cable industry as
we move into the new decade and beyond.”
“Our honorees are true mavericks — they have
contributed their immense talent, new ideas and
business savvy to help create today’s telecommunications
landscape,” Cable Center CEO Larry Satkowiak
said. “We are excited to build upon the success of
last year’s Cable Hall of Fame event, and honor these
six deserving leaders during The Cable Show and Cable
The 13th annual Cable Hall of Fame Celebration
will be held on Tuesday, May 11, at JW Marriott Los
Angeles at L.A. Live. The event will be hosted by MSNBC
anchor Chris Matthews. The 2010 Cable Hall of
Fame Celebration will also include a special tribute
to Bill Bresnan, a longtime chairman of The Cable
Center, who died last Nov. 2.
Biographical information reprinted from The Cable
Center’s Cable Hall of Fame Celebration program.
Copy credit: Erica Stull, Stull WordWorks.
THE CABLE CENTER’S
2010 HALL OF FAME HONOREES
Yolanda G. Barco
Vice President and Executive Officer,
Meadville Master Antenna
Yolanda Barco played a pivotal role in cable
operations and the regulation of the cable
industry, and blazed a trail for women at
the same time. She entered the industry in
1953 as general manager of Meadville Master
Antenna, the Pennsylvania cable system
owned by her father and law partner,
George J. Barco.
Barco was the first female general manager of a cable system, the
first woman to be elected to the NCTA board of directors and the first
woman to be elected president of a state cable industry association.
She was a founding member of the Pennsylvania Cable & Telecommunications
Association, now known as the Broadband Cable Association
of Pennsylvania, and served three terms as its president. She also was
the first woman to receive the NCTA Distinguished Vanguard Award
As an attorney, Barco and her father represented the cable industry in
the lawsuit that won relief from the onerous 8% IRS excise tax imposed on
cable subscription fees in the early 1950s.
The Barcos were also instrumental in the fight for pole attachment
rights, helping to gain for the cable industry what has been called the
most valuable real estate in the country — the three inches of utility pole
space used to deliver cable service to customers.
As a cable operator, Barco was deeply committed to local programming
and education. She was a founder of PENNARAMA (Pennsylvania
Cable Network), the first statewide network in the nation to offer educational
and public affairs programming to cable customers, and an organizer
and the head of the Pennsylvania Educational Communications
Systems. She also played a central role in the establishment of The Cable
Executive Vice President of
Over the course of his 33-year career with
Scientific-Atlanta, Allen Ecker stood at the
forefront of many of the cable industry’s
greatest technological innovations, including
dramatic bandwidth upgrades, video
over fiber, digital video compression, and
broadband via cable modem. Joining Scientific-Atlanta as director of research and development
in 1976, Ecker arrived as the industry was moving into satellite
technology. Later, as president of S-A’s subscriber sector during the
transition from analog to digital, he led the division’s evolution into the
growth engine for the company.
Ecker complemented engineering expertise with the leadership skills
needed to convince skeptics that then-radical concepts such as two-way
plant could work reliably. He learned leadership and determination on
the Georgia Tech football field, where he played for the legendary Bobby
Dodd. “[Dodd] told us, you never know what will be the big play until
after it’s over, so you have to give your all on every play. Business is the
same way. You have to be mentally prepared to win.”
In 2007 he was honored with Georgia Tech’s Total Person Former Student-
Athlete Award. He is a member of the board of trustees for the Georgia
Tech Foundation and was inducted into the Georgia Tech Engineering
Hall of Fame and the Georgia Tech Athletic Hall of Fame. Most recently, he
was the recipient of the Joseph Mayo Petit Alumni Distinguished Service
Award, Georgia Tech’s highest alumni award for lifetime leadership in his
profession and in the community.
In 1995 Ecker was selected as “Innovator of the Year” by the Southeastern
Cable Television Association for leadership in digital video technology,
and in 1999 he was inducted into the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia
for significant contributions to the high-tech community.
Terence F. McGuirk
Chairman and CEO,
Terry McGuirk traveled the long road from the
obscure “French Foreign Legion of Television”
to a global sports, news, and entertainment
powerhouse, all without leaving Georgia. Joining
Ted Turner’s WTCG-TV (channel 17) in Atlanta
as an account executive in 1972, McGuirk
was instrumental four years later in turning the
lowly UHF station into TBS, the nation’s first “superstation.” The satellite
launch gave McGuirk a clear understanding of the tremendous potential
of cable TV. “People couldn’t get [WTCG] well — we figured being on
cable would get you on VHF. Our early goal was to promote microwave
carriage around the Southeast. Then satellite came in. We didn’t think
there’d be much demand outside the Southeast, but the first night [on
the satellite], we found out they were watching us in Wenatchee, Wash.,
and somewhere in Minnesota.”
During McGuirk’s 35 years with Turner Broadcasting, he played a key
role in the launch of other ground-breakers, including CNN, the first allnews
network; TNT; Turner Classic Movies; and Cartoon Network. As president
of Turner Sports, he was instrumental in securing the first cable television
coverage of the Olympics.
When TBS Inc. merged with Time Warner Inc., McGuirk succeeded Ted
Turner as chairman, president and CEO. In March 2001, he was named
vice chairman of TBS Inc. and CEO of the company-owned Atlanta sports
teams — the Braves, the Hawks and the Thrashers. In 2003 McGuirk became
chairman and president of the Atlanta Braves, adding the title of
CEO in May 2007 following the sale of the team to Liberty Media. In 2006
McGuirk received the Governors Award from the southeastern chapter of
the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
The successful sports executive takes greatest pride in his family and
says, “most of my best friends still come out of cable.”
Marc B. Nathanson
Marc Nathanson grew up with cable in his
blood. His father, Chicago advertising executive
Donald Nathanson, was an investor in
cable systems who encouraged his friend,
Burt Harris, to do the same in the early 1950s.
While attending the University of Denver, the
younger Nathanson sold cable door-to-door
for Harris in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ontario during summer breaks, and
joined Harriscope Broadcasting full time as general manager of Abel Cable
in Malibu, Calif. Six months later, he was named director of marketing and
development for the company, which became Cypress Communications.
Nathanson then joined TelePrompTer, and advanced to vice president of
the nation’s largest cable operator when he was just 27.
An entrepreneur at heart, Nathanson set out in 1975 to start his own
company. Asked what he remembers most about the early days of Falcon
Cable, Nathanson says: “My own naiveté: I learned of two systems for
sale for $1 million — more than my bank could lend.” He had a connection
to Bank of Boston, but at first, “I didn’t realize a Boston bank could
loan money to a guy from California.” Bank of Boston turned down the
$1 million loan request. “They offered me $7 million instead. That grew
Nathanson sold Falcon Cable to Paul Allen’s Charter Communications in
1999, and established Mapleton Investments LLC soon after.
Nathanson’s enthusiasm for cable is matched by his interest in politics
and international affairs. In 1995, President Clinton appointed him to the
Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent federal agency that supervises
all U.S. government-supported non-military global communications,
including Voice of America, Radio/TV Marti, and Radio Free Europe.
Nathanson is vice chair and a member of the executive committee of
the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).
President and CEO,
A&E Television Networks
Spanning off -Broadway theater, a high school
classroom, and the executive suite of a leading
cable network, Abbe Raven’s career has consistently
followed the twin themes of leadership
After college, Raven became the youngest
Equity stage manager in New York, working
on several off -Broadway shows. “Theater was
a great training ground for me … You learn to appreciate the importance
of teamwork. People would stay up all night and paint and build sets. I
also learned about storytelling. At the end of the day, no matter what the
platform is, [entertainment] is about great storytelling.”
Next, she became a high school English and drama teacher, honing her
leadership and management skills and once again “getting people excited
about stories.” But her love of show business continued, and in 1982,
she left teaching for cable, answering phones and making photocopies
at a new cable network called Daytime. She quickly worked her way into
production, and when the network split into A&E Network and Lifetime
Television in 1984, Raven was named A&E’s director of production. In 1995
she became the first head of programming for AETN startup The History
Channel, and returned to A&E several years later to spearhead the network’s
revival and return to top-10 status. In 2005, Raven succeeded Nick
Davatzes as president and CEO of A&E Television Networks, which now
encompasses Lifetime, A&E, History and seven other popular channels.
Honored with the NCTA Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership
and inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2009, Raven
serves on the executive committee of board of directors of NCTA, the
NAMIC Foundation and the CTAM Educational Foundation. She was recently
appointed to the advisory board of the Smithsonian’s National Museum
of American History and is co-chair of Cable in the Classroom.
Alberta and the Rocky Mountains won his
affection, but the lack of television options
there led JR Shaw to become one of Canada’s
largest cable operators. Shaw grew up in an
Ontario town just north of the U.S.-Canada
border where he had access to the four U.S.
broadcast TV networks. While working for
his father’s company, Shaw moved his family
to Edmonton in the early 1960s. Disappointed with the channel choices
in his new home, he launched Capital Cable in 1966 to fill the void.
After a long wait for the necessary license, the company connected its
first customer in 1971. “All the people that went to the CRTC (Canadian
Radiotelevision and Telecommunications Commission) were from the
broadcasting side and they didn’t want American signals coming in. They
let us apply for ‘one-and-one’ — PBS and one other network. Our biggest
decision was a leap of faith. We applied to add a local station plus CBC
English and French.” Capital Cable became Shaw Cablesystems in 1983,
and has since grown into a $9 billion enterprise — the leading residential
broadband service provider in Western Canada. Shaw has a strong tradition
of corporate citizenship, supporting a wide range of causes from
learning technology to child safety to affordable housing for the working
Shaw is president and director of the Shaw Foundation, a philanthropy
established by his father, Francis E. Shaw. He has served on the board of
the Canadian Cable Television Association (CCTA), and chaired the board
of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. In 2007, NAIT established
the JR Shaw School of Business.
Shaw has received awards from the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, Junior
Achievement Canada, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the
CCTA and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Business.
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