It was one of those moments when I wasn’t part of the industry… got a call in late 1979 telling me that Walter Kaitz had died and about the funeral arrangements. Had a family conflict and couldn’t go… but got a call just after the funeral from Spencer Kaitz, Ray Joslin, Don Anderson, Chris Derrick and others who were there at the following reception.
They told me that they, Amos Hostetter (in first with funding) and Bill Daniels (in big and almost tied for first) had been talking and wanted to start a foundation to honor Walter’s life and accomplishments. Good idea.
The upshot was what became The Walter Kaitz Foundation dedicated to helping minorities make it in our industry… and, believe it or not, it was the first of its kind in any media industry.
The next year it got formal as I was about to return to the business (I was just planning the launch of Multichannel News)… and I joined the founding board along with the usual suspects and California Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (who I ran into at the Apple store in Denver during the DNC a couple of weeks ago).
The question became, how do we make funding this thing an ongoing success?
It was Ray Joslin who, at a board meeting in, I think late ’82, said, let’s have a dinner… Ray, having moved east with Hearst —even though he was president of the California Cable TV Association those days—said it had to be in New York. I demurred, saying it should move around the country like cable (I was naive). Ray prevailed… and asked the well-wired and great Viacom chief Ralph Baruch to chair the first dinner… which he did… in spades… and Multichannel News became a very noisy cheerleader… we convened at the Waldorf Astoria with about 300 or so of us to honor NCTA head Tom Wheeler. It worked. (Only time Ray has worn jeans to such an event—but we won’t disclose why he emulated me that week… unless you ask.)
And grew and grew and grew.
And that’s why you’ll be in New York for the last of what we once called—before someone got politically correct—"Cable Hell Week" the week of the 15th.
[Note: Seems we’ll be have two "Cable Hell Weeks" next year].
* Busy Week Coming the 15th: NAMIC. Cable Positive. Board meetings. Sales meetings. Old friends.
* Young A&E = Scary? No… just funny. Kaitz week does bring one of my favorite events—and this might be the last (boo!). A&E has long hosted the best cocktail party of the year the evening before the dinner at the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center. Instead of a couple of thousand of our best friends, the pre-show gathering is always the right size, right food, right folks and best views. Not to mention the play’s the thing afterward. This year is "Young Frankenstein" which, I understand, is a metaphor for the political season.
* Speaking of A&E: Our friend David Zagin (how else do you think I get invited to these things) says he shot a hole in one the other day… 150-yard one at that. He has promised to bring proof.
* In the Meantime: Love the political advertising in the sense that a lot of it is on "cable"—sick of the two prevalent kinds that run ad nauseum. (1) The other guy is a bad guy. (2) I love the flag, vote for me.