Positively Cable At Its Best

Our own boss, Bill McGorry, was the honoree at Cable Positive's annual dinner, an event which brought many in the industry to New York last week to raise money and awareness for the battle against AIDS in the workplace.

The event attracted more than 850 cable executives and raised more than $1 million to help the organization carry out its worthy goals.

Cable Positive is a nonprofit organization established in 1992 to pool together the resources and talents of the cable and telecommunications industry, in an effort to stamp out a disease that has prematurely taken the lives of too many in our business.

Among those who've succumbed to this disease was a member of our own family — Joel A. Berger, the former publisher of Multichannel News
and one of Cable Positive's original supporters and honorary chairmen. He died in 1995.

In accepting the Joel A. Berger Award last week, McGorry recounted, in part, what it was like be an executive in charge of handling an issue like AIDS in the workplace. It was during the early and mid-1990's, a time when people where afraid to even be in the same room with a person infected with the HIV virus.

But not our McGorry, or any of us who knew and loved Berger. McGorry went to the mat for Berger, making sure that his income and insurance — but mostly his dignity — remained intact. McGorry, of course, couldn't save Joel's life, but he gave him the gift of friendship and a sense of family.

And that heartfelt story resonated throughout the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Marquis, where last Thursday's event was held. But perhaps more important, people got a sense of who Berger was — and why Cable Positive named its award after him.

Having served on the committee for last week's Cable Positive dinner, I have to tell you how impressed I am with the organization's president and CEO, Steve Villano, and his able staff.

Villano has an uncanny ability to bring people together, and to pool all of the amazing talent from different organizations who were responsible for creating created last week's successful gala.

The event's co-chairs did more than contribute money by buying tables. More important, they contributed the time and efforts of their staffers, who worked together as a team to attend to the many details that make an event like this come to life.

Chairs of this year's dinner were Lifetime Entertainment Services president and CEO Carole Black, Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Glenn Britt and Comedy Central president and CEO Larry Divney.

And I feel like I made many new friends in working with staffers from those companies to pull together this event. Comedy Central employees built the stage from which The Daily Show's Jon Stewart had people rolling in the aisles. That same stage also hosted the B-52's, who performed at the end of the evening and got the crowd up and dancing.

Lifetime took care of the ambience, providing the elegant flowers, invitations, place cards, goodie bags and all of those special touches that make for a memorable night.

Time Warner Cable's people hosted the reception.

Beyond that, the chairs and their staffers dialed for dollars, working the phones to sell tables to reach the $1 million-plus goal.

The evening was themed "Absolutely Positively," and it lived up to its name. Warring programmers and operators forgot their differences, for at least an evening, and sat up and listened to learn more about a very real disease that still has not been eradicated.