Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Words from the wise: Broadcasting & Cable's 2007 Hall of Fame Inductees

I think it's fair to say that anyone who has ever worked in the television industry has realized that there is a magical aspect to it, which makes most other professions pale in comparison. Even though my contributions to television programs have so far all been "below the line," I remain enthralled with the business, and count its most successful executives among my personal heroes. Indeed, those who command programs and/or networks, who make the television business successful, and who possess such unique talents as to be able to transform artistic craftsmanship into entertainment and commerce fill me with awe. One easy way to survey some of the most impressive of these individuals is through Broadcasting & Cable Magazine's annual Hall of Fame ceremony, and the magazine's resulting coverage. Last week in New York, twelve individuals were honored at the 17th annual event, and this week, the magazine's distribution included a supplement honoring them.

I reviewed the supplement and pulled a quote or two to share some insights from each of these very noteworthy individuals. Where each 2007 Hall of Fame inductee's name appears, I encourage you to follow the link to check out their full written and video profiles. Enjoy!
. Frank A. Bennack Jr., President and CEO, Hearst Corp.: “Part of Hearst's success has always been our diversification in print and electronic media. I am very proud to have played a part in that.”
. Mark Burnett, Producer: "Being given the privilege of an hour of network television is just that. You are expecting millions of Americans to devote an hour of their life to you. I understand the privilege and don’t take it lightly."
. Bill Cella, Chairman/CEO, Magna Global Worldwide: “There are advertisers who are willing to buy into programming that is appropriate for families to watch. We were told initially that it wouldn't happen, but we actually pulled it off.”
. Rocco Commisso, Founder and CEO, Mediacom: “I wanted to control my destiny. I turned down hundreds of millions from investors and I put in everything I had.”
. Brian France, Chairman and CEO, NASCAR: “This is how naïve you are as a teenager: I really didn't think it would be that big a business opportunity,” he says of his post-college days in the mid-1980s. “This was 25 years ago and it wasn't the big sport that it is today. I looked at it and, when I got out of school, I went out to the West and worked in the grassroots of it and I sorted out that it was really good for me.”
. Harry Friedman, Producer: “In some ways, although [the past] era may always be the golden age of television, I think where we are right now could be approaching platinum. Certainly what we consider to be communication with the traditional definition of television is no longer valid.”
. Charles Gibson, Anchor, ABC World News: “To the extent that I have a theory of life, it's that you try to prove to your parents that you're worth a damn.”
. Bonnie Hammer, President, USA/Sci Fi Networks: “Somebody saying, 'You can't do that' is what motivates me. I do much better when my feet are on the coals.”
. Phil Kent, CEO, Turner Broadcasting: As a former agent at Creative Artists Agency, Kent says he learned skills that serve him well as a CEO: bringing together players and managing people. “I learned what drives people and how to turn their ambitions into reality,” he says. But after six successful years with the agency, he yearned to be more involved with a company. “I wanted to drive the agenda of an enterprise.”
. Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO, MTV Networks: “I like the fact that the company is filled with restless young people. I like having a hand in trying to keep an environment going that makes it a great place for them to work, whether they just start a career here or come in [from elsewhere].”
. Paul McTear, CEO, Raycom: Having launched the Television Food Network, which became the Food Network, McTear recalls, “It was very hard in the early days. We built a studio with cooking facilities on the west side of New York, and stayed the course. Today, it’s worth billions.”
. Joe Uva, President, Univision: “I have had the opportunity to work from both the buy and sell side of the business. I think those experiences have contributed to help me have a better understanding of all of the challenges, issues and opportunities that a media company faces, as well as what a marketer faces and the agencies' perspective.”