On the second floor of a glass-sheathed building near Denver University, just beyond the racks of blinking receivers, there’s a nicely appointed production studio where I’ve strapped on a microphone and settled in with various captains of industry to talk about their careers and lives for The Cable Center’s Oral History Collection. I found out how Arthur Bell thought up the idea for Comedy Central in the 1980s. I affirmed that globe-trotting mogul Mike Fries sometimes forgets the words to Bon Jovi songs when he fronts his rock band. I talked with “The Father of the Cable Modem,” Rouzbeh Yassini, about how he got the Internet to go faster. And more…
GREG ALLSHOUSE, CABLE GUY
An old-school cable guy who climbed the poles, twisted the connectors into place, and made sure the signals were up to snuff. And did it all at enormous scale.
BILL BEATY, CABLE GUY
The generational migration from TV to the Internet is a bit of shape-shifting alchemy that has redefined the telecom business. Here’s what we mean.
ED BLEIER, MOVIE-MAN
He was the human bridge between Hollywood and the cable business who almost single-handedly brought pay-per-view television from concept to reality.
ARTHUR BELL, COMEDIAN
Before there was Comedy Central, there was The Comedy Channel. And before there was The Comedy Channel, there was an idea. Here’s the guy who had it.
ARYEH BOURKOFF, DEALMAKER
From Comcast-NBC to Viacom-CBS, If there was a big deal occurring in the media space over the last 20 years, it’s a better than even bet Aryeh Bourkoff was involved.
lOU BORELLI, CABLE GUY
An accidental journey brought a beloved industry figure to the forefront of it all, Also, there was that time Mick Jagger yelled at him. Herewith, the unlikely career journey of cable’s favorite son.
PAUL BROADHURST, TECH GENIUS
What do Broadhurst and Johnny Rotten have in common? Glad you asked.
STUART BROTMAN, LAWMAN
A protégé of the influential policy strategist Henry Geller, who helped shape the way the United States government regulated everything from telecommunications competition to cigarette ads.
CYNTHIA CARPENTER, HUMANIST
Sure, Netflix is cool. But have you guys heard about people power? She has.
MIKE FRIES, MAN OF THE WORLD
Other than fronting a rock band when he’s not globe-trotting to London and Peru, or making deals with the likes of Richard Branson, it’s just another average American life.
BILL FUTERA, CABLE GUY
In the intro, I call him the Forrest Gump of the cable industry. He doesn’t entirely object.
DAVID HARRISON, TECH SAVANT
He grew up in rural Oxfordshire, dreaming of becoming a fireman. Ended up roaming the world and contributing to the birth of some influential technologies you probably use every day. So: an even trade.
ANDREW HEALEY, BUILDER
Started out building chain-link fences in the Bronx, wound up building cable telecommunications systems just about everywhere else. Here’s how he got from there to here.
ED HALLERAN, CABLE GUY
A lifelong Bostonian and former teacher who found his way into a business he loved, and helped usher in the era of high-speed Internet.
PETER KILEY, C-SPAN MAN
Every industry seems to have one: the person everyone knows, and everyone refers to as “a great guy.” The fellow I always think of as “Mr. C-SPAN” is that guy.
OUTSIDE THE BOX WITH KEN KLAER
That proverbial “set-top box” that powers the television industry boasts a long line of inventors, caretakers, innovators and catalysts. Here’s one of them.
JOHN KURPINSKI SR. AND THE LOYAL ORDER OF THE 404
It’s a fine day to stroll ’round the history of cable-telecommunications engineering. Here’s the ideal guide.
JEFF MARCUS, CABLE GUY
One of the signature figures of the modern cable industry underscores a longstanding rule of success: Never negotiate with John Malone after a drink or two.
ROB MARSHALL, CABLE GUY
In the beginning, there were utility poles. Which meant there were pole attachment fees. Which meant you needed people like Rob Marshall.
PATTY MCCASKILL, NEGOTIATOR
If you wanted to start a cable TV network in the heyday, you needed a sound concept, the right programming, a cool logo, and lots of capital. You also needed to have a word with Patty McCaskill.
AVRAM MILLER, WILD DUCK
That’s the catchphrase used by Miller, a Zelig-like character who helped Intel invent the broadband Internet era.
BALAN NAIR, MAN OF THE WORLD
The likeable CTO has helped to export the American cable TV model abroad. And in the case of hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, to coax it back to life.
MATT POLKA, INDEPENDENT
For all the Comcasts and Liberty Globals of the world, the cable industry still depends on a hearty breed of small-city entrepreneurs. Here’s the man behind their success.
ROBERT SCHMIDT, QUARTERBACK
The first president of the National Cable Television Association called the plays that made the industry a force in Washington, D.C.
EVAN SHAPIRO, AMERICAN CLASSIC
Part television historian, part TV network honcho, part college dropout who made it big. If you enjoyed “Portlandia,” you have Shapiro to thank.
WALLY SNEDECKER, GM FOR THE AGES
The U.S. cable industry’s unsung heroes were the general managers who brought a local touch to a booming business. Here’s one of the great ones.
STEVE WEED, CABLE GUY
The entrepreneur took a long look at the cable industry and liked what he saw. So he made it his own.
The “Father of the Cable Modem” has made Internet-for-all a rallying cry for life.