Tech Leadership Awards: Ken Aagaard

After 40 years in the broadcast business, Ken Aagaard is
still excited by new technology that can bring viewers closer to the game. He
led CBS Sports' foray into high-definition back in 1998, when the network
partnered with Sony Electronics to broadcast four late-season NFL games in HD.
Since then, he has introduced both EyeVision, a complex system for Super Bowl
XXXV that gave a 3D-like look at replays, and SwingVision, which uses
ultra-high-frame-rate cameras to analyze pro golfers' swings.

Aagaard's latest muse is stereoscopic 3D. As CBS Sports'
executive VP of operations and engineering, he helped secure a sponsorship deal
with LG Electronics to produce the 2010 NCAA Final Four men's basketball
championship in 3D and broadcast it to digital cinemas nationwide.


That experiment went well enough that Aagaard is
anticipating more 3D this summer for tennis and golf. While he doesn't believe
3D is as big a breakthrough as the move from standard-definition to HD, Aagaard
still thinks 3D has great potential as a new pay-TV or out-of-home platform.

"Every time a new technology comes up, it's always a
struggle," Aagaard says. "Nobody wants to pay for it, and nobody believes in
it. The more that happens, the more resolute I become. I'm opinionated--I can't
help myself."

Aagaard got his start in broadcasting at New Trier High School in Winnetka,
Ill., covering basketball and
swimming for the school's radio station. After graduating from the University of Iowa in 1969 with a degree in radio,
television and film, he took a job in operations at NBC affiliate WMAQ Chicago,
managing the insertion of commercials into local programming as well as network
sports coverage.

In 1977, he moved to New
York for a network job as broadcast operations
manager. By 1979, Aagaard shifted to NBC Sports, where he served as manager of
sports operations and operations producer, and began working in the field on

He has spent much of his time on the road ever since. After
being promoted to VP of operations for NBC Sports in 1981, he worked on the
Super Bowl, World Series, Wimbledon, French
Open, professional golf and NCAA basketball.

In 1985, he got a chance at his longtime dream of working an
Olympics, serving as VP of operations and engineering for the 1988 Summer
Olympics in Seoul.
He spent most of two years in Korea
and was involved in every piece of NBC's production, from shipping 18 mobile
units overseas to creating new broadcast facilities on the ground.

At the time, NBC didn't have the rights to the 1992 Olympics
in Barcelona or
any subsequent Games, and the Olympics job was a temporary gig. So, Aagaard
started his own consulting company, Creative Broadcast Techniques, which wound
up working on NBC's 1992 and 1996 Summer Games coverage, along with other major
sporting events and several large facility projects.

When he joined CBS Sports in 1998 as senior VP of operations
and production services, president Sean McManus agreed that Aagaard could keep
his company. It still exists today, with Aagaard's wife, Emerald Chin,
overseeing most day-to-day operations. One of its current projects is
consulting on ESPN's production of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and Aagaard will
head to South Africa
in June.

Aagaard feels fortunate to maintain his dual roles:
"The projects tie into a lot of things I'm doing at CBS, and I get to learn
things both ways."