Honoring Cable’s Longtime Leaders6/13/2011 12:01 AM Eastern
Each of this year’s 13 inductees into the Cable Pioneers brings with
them a story of innovation, entrepreneurship and passion for the
This year’s class includes pioneering local operators, cable-operator
executives, engineers, technologists, programmers, media experts
and financiers from across the U.S. and Canada. All have provided invaluable
services to the many cable-industry organizations, while stamping their signature
on the industry and helping to shape its future.
Founded 44 years ago on the principle of preserving and celebrating the
industry’s entrepreneurial and innovative spirit, the expanding list of Cable
Pioneers now totals more than 550. Each of the newly minted pioneers will be
honored at the 2011 Cable Show in Chicago, at a Monday, June 13 ceremony at the
Red Lacquer Ballroom in the Palmer House hotel. This year’s event is themed
“Grand Reunion,” as the Palmer House played host to the very fi rst Pioneers
event back in 1967.
The profiles in this section were written and reported by Craig Kuhl.
LEAVING AN ENDURING MARK ON CABLE’S IMAGE
Vision, creativity and drive. Those three
character traits have defi ned Ellen Cooper’s
35-year public-relations and communications
career as she helped to shape the cable
industry’s image and raise its profile.
Her impact on the industry, beginning in
1977 as senior publicist for the fledgling networks
HBO and Showtime — where she helped
forge the iconic HBO brand — put cable on the
national stage alongside breakthroughs in satellite
delivery, new networks and technologies,
video on demand and more. For example, she
promoted the first Award for Cable Excellence,
was a charter member of Women In Cable and
headed the complex public-relations effort for
the 1992 Olympics Triplecast from NBC and
In the late 1970s, she changed the way
newspapers listed HBO and recently pushed
TV Guide.com to build a new category for
Movies on Demand.
Cooper continues in cable as vice president of corporate and affiliate communications for
In Demand. She has also found time to mentor a long list of cable leaders and produced the
recycling documentary No Time to Waste.
Cooper has also volunteered as communications consultant for NYC Apollo Alliance, a consortium
of business, labor and environmental leaders, and is an active member of the Cable & Telecommunciations
Association for Marketing’s Advanced Cable Services Consortium.
CANADIAN PIONEER’S ROOTS GO BACK TO ’62
Randy Elliot’s cable tenure dates back to
1962, when the young installer/technician
helped launch Community Television, the
very early cable system, in Calgary, Alberta.
The system would eventually become
Shaw Communications, now a major cable
and communications provider in Canada, and
the job would lead Elliot to a long, successful
career in cable and a place in the 2011
class of Pioneers.
Now retired, Elliot contributed many technological
and engineering upgrades to Shaw
and the cable industry as a whole, with a
special emphasis on customer experience.
His valuable technical experience has
helped several vendors deliver advanced
Elliot believed that delivering advanced
video digital platforms throughout
Shaw’s systems would enhance the
customer experience. That belief that put
him on the cutting edge of advanced digital technology.
Elliot has been a tireless advocate for Canada’s cable industry during his 43-year career,
lobbying extensively for the industry and pushing for excellence and subscriber care.
He has served as director of the Canadian and Alberta Cable TV Associations, vice chairman
of the Canadian Cable Association’s Western Region, and has represented Shaw at several
A LONG-TIME CABLE ENGINEER AND ADVOCATE
In 1979, Terry Cordova unknowingly began
his path to the cable industry at a small system
in Kansas, where he installed plant and
drops and learned all things cable.
That experience would lead to a stellar
and influential career and a place in this
year’s class of Pioneers.
Currently the senior vice president and
chief technology officer at Suddenlink Communications,
Cordova has been a consistent
advocate for the Society of Cable Telecommunications
Engineers and led the negotiations
to forge the cooperative relationship between
the National Cable Television Institute and
During his 16 years as VP of engineering at
Galaxy Cablevision, Cordova managed thousands
of miles of bandwidth upgrades and
the early deployment of microwave and fi ber
optics. He also built what was one of the largest
distance-learning networks of its time.
His next stop was Charter Communications, where he played a key role in the acquisition
of 13 companies, developing a “Master Upgrade Plan” that served as the road map for the
MSO’s bandwidth upgrades.
Along the way, he has served on the SCTE advisory board, the boards of directors of the
St. Louis and South Carolina YMCA, and recently received the SCTE’s Chairman Award. He
is also a founding contributor to The Cable Center.
GROWING CABLE A ON GLOBAL SCALE
Since 1985, Mike Fries has helped grow the
cable industry beyond the U.S. by building
international distribution and programming
businesses around the globe.
His creative work on cable mergers and
acquisitions for Tele-Communications
Inc., United Cable and several other MSOs
earned Fries his place in this year’s class of
At PaineWebber and then United International
Holdings, Fries focused exclusively on
international cable opportunities and the development
of global acquisitions.
He established a regional cable operation
in Australia — Austar — and currently serves
as chairman of the $620 million company. In
1998, he became president and chief operating
officer of UnitedGlobalCom — the former
UIH — responsible for day-to-day operations
and the company’s strategic direction.
Each of those moves prepared Fries for
his current position as CEO of the world’s second-largest MSO, Liberty Global. He is a member
of the company’s board of directors and two-member executive committee alongside
Liberty Global chairman and fellow cable TV pioneer John Malone.
Under Fries’ watch, Liberty Global has become an international leader in broadband
technology, serving more than 20 million DOCSIS 3.0 homes. He was named 2010 Industry
Leader of the Year by Digital TV Europe.
MARKETER’S CONTRIBUTIONS EXTEND BEYOND CABLE
Rick Howe’s introduction to cable in 1973
as marketing manager for American
Television & Communications in Ohio would
lead to a career of nearly 40 years of
advancing cable’s marketing cause.
During his pioneering tenure in cable,
Howe has brought his leadership skills and
marketing creativity to each of the companies
he has served, including Showtime,
TVSM Publishing, MoreCom and most
recently as president of Winstone Management,
where he is focusing on low-cost
Throughout his career, Howe has crafted
strategic marketing and rebranding campaigns,
created and managed field marketing
organizations, established direct mail marketing,
telemarketing and point-of-sale merchandising
and developed interactive tools
and applications specializing in commerce,
shopping and cable applications.
Yet Howe’s greatest contribution may be in the nonprofi t world. From 1991-94 Howe and
his wife worked to organize a national public-relations and fundraising campaign to fight
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome that resulted in a 50% drop in the number of SIDS deaths in
the U.S. He ran a national organization of nearly 10,000 volunteers from his living room.
Howe has also been active in the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing
for more than 25 years and is a member of Women in Cable Telecommunications and
the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications.
INDUSTRY ROOTS STRETCHING BACK TO CHILDHOOD
In 1945, 6-year-old Skip Kraus became his dad’s “little helper,” testing radio tubes. That’s all it took for Kraus to realize his fascination
with electronics and, eventually, with television.
Thirteen years later, he established the family master-antenna television business and cultivated a personal relationship with the
legendary Ike Blonder of Blonder Tongue Laboratories. That brought him full-fledged into the cable-TV business, designing and installing
TV systems near Joliet, Ill.
But it was in 1962, when Kraus first installed a 109-foot tower near his family’s TV store in downtown Joliet, that his fascination with
cable took on a whole new meaning, as residents showed an eagerness to share the great reception from his cable drop.
Soon, he had 78 subscribers and his tower was officially declared a cable-TV system by the FCC. The price for the 12 channel service?
Fifteen dollars a year, paid once a year on June 1.
He has since built several smaller cable systems in Illinois, including Manhattan Cable, his largest, and has been honored several
times for his achievements and contributions to local communities served by his cable systems.
A true pioneer, Kraus is a longstanding member of the Society of Telecommunications Engineers and was inducted into the its prestigious
Royal Order of the 704.
EARLY CABLE AUDITING LAUNCHED PIONEERING CAREER
Bill Myers’ emergence as a leader in launching
new services as president and chief
operating officer of Starz Entertainment was
a direct result of how he started in cable:
managing audit engagements for several top
Those early auditing lessons, beginning
in 1986 while a senior manager at KPMG
Peat Marwick, prepared him for a career
path that led to top financial positions at
Tele-Communications Inc. and other MSOs,
and for his place in the 2011 class of Pioneers.
As vice president of capital management
for TCI, Myers managed the company’s
$1 billion capital expenditure program and
eventually became vice president and treasurer,
was responsible for the daily operations
of several departments.
Along with his financial skills, Myers’
passion for developing people within his
organization has been one of his signature
contributions to the industry.
A longtime advocate of education, he has supported all of the
cable industry’s top development programs and is a member of the board of directors of the
CTAM Educational Foundation.
At Starz, Myers launched the company’s on-demand service, which included a signifi cant
percentage of original content. He has also been instrumental in developing the company’s
Executive Leadership Development program.
A RESUME THAT LISTS MANY FIRSTS
Jeff Huppertz’s contributions to the cable industry
include an inordinate number of firsts.
Now the vice president and general manager
of the MSO Solutions Group at Tellabs,
Huppertz contributed to cable’s first baseband
addressable set-top system while at
Zenith in 1985. At Scientific-Atlanta, he led
the management team developing cable’s
first set-top box with an on-screen program
guide, and spearheaded the product management
of cable’s first digital set-top box.
Being first has put Huppertz, established
as a leading-edge engineer and technology
visionary, in the Pioneers class of 2011.
His key role in the development of cable’s
first “TV Everywhere” solution in 2001, and
his leadership in cable’s largest technology
merger — Motorola’s $17 billion acquisition
of General Instrument in 1999 — have had a
significant impact on the cable industry.
And there were more firsts to come. He
led the product management of cable’s first multichannel DOCSIS modems in 2005, cofounded
the Cable & Telecommunications Associations for Marketing’s Technology Marketing
Committee and played a significant role in developing the curriculum for CTAM University.
Huppertz is the inventor of three patents for broadband cable systems and has been
actively involved in several community organizations. He is a board member of Bridge Communities,
a non-profit group helping homeless families.
CARRYING ON THE FAMILY BUSINESS
One of cable’s true pioneering families, the
Neus built their fi rst UHF translator in Alpine,
Texas, in 1957, when young Steven Neu was
just 6 years old.
It wasn’t long, though, until Neu entered
the business himself, hooking up and disconnecting
customers while he was still in
junior high school.
Though he didn’t know it at the time, the
junior-high job would mark the beginning of
a long and distinguished career in the cable
industry, and lead to a place in the 2011
class of Pioneers.
His vision to bring state-of-the-art
Internet, wireless broadband and voiceover-
Internet protocol phone service to
rural areas is emblematic of the small
operators’ mission to serve smaller communities.
Neu’s contributions to the industry
during his 45 years as a small cable
operator include serving on several boards of directors, including the Texas Cable and
Telecommunications Association and American Cable Association, of which he is a
Neu’s many trips to the nation’s capital to lobby for the interests of independent cable
operators have earned high praise from his peers and helped lawmakers better understand
the unique issues facing rural cable businesses.
INNOVATIVE, COWBOY SPIRIT EARNS PLACE IN PIONEERS
The term “Cable Pioneer” can be
appropriately applied to the 45-year
veteran Steve Richey. His many
innovations and contributions —
from marketing and manufacturing
to operations and engineering —
have changed the cable industry,
and earned him entry into this
year’s class of honorees.
Richey’s early experience in
1966, when he joined Cascade
Electronics designing new CATV
amplifiers, inspired him to pursue
cable as a career during the industry’s
explosive growth period of
He designed a product line of
matching transformers, splitters and
directional couplers and designed
a build-it-yourself 10-Gigahertz
microwave kit, as well as the first
satellite block-down converter
now used in all satellite installations.
Richey’s contributions to the
industry took a turn in 1985 when he purchased a satellite master-antenna TV system and
grew it to more than 100 properties in Southern California, Phoenix, Ariz., and Dallas.
He would eventually help found the National Private Cable Association and made several
trips to Washington to lobby for the adoption of 18-GHz microwave for the privatecable
In 2005, Richey formed 4Cable TV, which developed bandwidth-upgrade solutions and
the first PowerMiser modules that reduced the power consumption of CATV amplifiers. Most
recently, he completed design of the first solar-powered cable-TV node.
FROM HBO BEGINNINGS TO THE GLOBAL STAGE
For 30 years, Eileen Rivard has
created and produced special
events for HBO. Her work has benefi
ted not just the company, but
the entire industry and many charities
and important causes.
In addition, she has helped
establish the highest industry
standards which have broadened
the growth of cable, evidenced
by her work in producing widely
acclaimed industry events such
as the Emmy Awards, the Golden
Globes and MIPCOM, all of which
have raised the standard for cable
in reaching global audiences.
Her passion for fostering relationships
and creating unique
opportunities for connecting talent
with cable operators became
evident during Rivard’s early years
at HBO, circa 1981, when she first
began developing and producing
exhibits, celebrity appearances
and affiliate events.
But the best was yet to come when she signed on as vice president of special events,
corporate communications, media and talent relations for HBO. That role would provide the
stage for her to obtain worldwide recognition, media exposure and growth.
Rivard has set the standard for quality of screenings and premieres, talent appearances
and other events.
She has also raised substantial awareness of important causes via Comic Relief fundraising
events for the homeless in Los Angeles and New York, and has organized several New
Orleans events to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.
ROEDY’S SPECTACULAR LEAP FROM RANGERS TO MTV
Bill Roedy’s leap from airborne
U.S. Army Ranger to chief architect
of MTV’s rapid expansion around
the world and its emergence into a
global network of brands has been
nothing less than spectacular.
Under his leadership as chairman
and CEO, MTV Networks
International, developed and
launched hundreds of channels,
starting with MTV Europe in 1989.
The MTVNI global operation
now includes more than 172
locally programmed and operated
TV channels outside the U.S. in
more than 162 countries in 33
languages, reaching a potential
audience of 2 billion people.
He has also expanded MTV
Networks content across multiple
platforms, with more than 70 mobile
phone channels and 400 digital
media properties. MTV today is
one of the top 10 most-recognized
consumer brands in the world.
Roedy’s pioneering support and activism in the effort to promote HIV/AIDS education led
to related documentaries, concerts, town halls and public-service announcements through
the “Staying Alive” campaign. He currently serves as chairman of the Staying Alive Foundation,
which fights the epidemic at the grassroots level.
He serves on several boards of directors, including Doctors of the World, National Academy
of Television Arts & Sciences, American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Global
Business Coalition. He is also the author of the well-received new memoir What Makes Business
Rock: Building the World’s Largest Global Networks (Wiley, May 2011).
FOR THIS PIONEER, IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT SERVICE
Customer service isn’t lip service
for Cathy Serksnas. It’s a main
goal that sparked her pioneering
efforts in hands-on cable system
administration and operations.
Her early years as a computer
support customer-serivce rep
at MetroVision in 1980 laid the
foundation for a career that would
span 30 years and include several
She headed the first in-house,
one-person IT team exclusively for
a top-10 MSO and has led cable
systems with more than 640,000
subscribers and overn 5,000
miles of HFC plant.
Through mergers and acquisitions,
nearly 2,500 fi eld employees into
a single region while increasing
revenues by $7.5 million and
growing the subscriber base to
Her marketing efforts led to the
Los Angeles Times printing a local weekly cable guide in its Sunday edition, while her “twofer”
pay-per-view campaign allowed customers to order movies on a more balanced schedule,
easing the burden on overloaded computer systems.
Her community efforts have matched her passion for cable. She was active in the Los Angeles
Mission College Foundation, helping to raise $1.3 million for college scholarships and
has been a “first contact” for countless community groups.
Serksnas is currently director of business development for Lavender Industries and a recognized
leader in avionic system design and broadband communications systems.