David Keefe, CEO, Atlantic Broadband
Max is one of the gold standards of our industry. As a young man, in the 1970s, observing Paul Maxwell, a wild-eyed, long-haired Western cowboy, opine on our fledgling industry with controlled abandonment gave me hope there was room for a new generation of cable entrepreneurs. His fair and even-handed views on the state of affairs, his precise sense of cable leaders (their quirks, personalities, biases and dreams) typically played out in his chronicling of the cable television for that time. And, he never forgot you, (like Brian Lamb)—friend or acquaintance, he was there with that wry, warm smile. I think I go back as a Maxwell fan about 35 years, so I can say he is my most-read journalist (new realization!) and he carries the absolute gnarly, back-country 18 inches of powder of credibility in my book.
Paul’s message to cable: I believe Paul’s message has evolved from the time when success was rare and modest to our present, mostly deep, corporate, roots. But I believe one of his underlying resilient themes is we are an industry borne out of a fierce independent mind-set, countering every standard that the monoliths represented and used to stand in the way of our industry’s progress. We should be very careful to not behave in the same manner as our adversaries. Remember our roots—they are good roots and there is something to be learned from the past.
Favorite Max moment: At the NCTA show in Atlanta a few years ago I was walking with my wife Pam and we passed Paul on the street. As we passed, he smiled and tipped his cowboy hat to Pam. She commented, “My, a gentleman among you cable guys!” And he is, a gentleman among us.
Mark O’Connell, regional VP, affiliate sales and marketing, Comcast Networks (l.)
Garrett P. Smith, division VP, affiliate sales and marketing, Comcast Networks (r.)
Brad Fox, EVP, affiliate sales and marketing, Comcast Networks
We can think of many words to describe Paul, only some of which are fit for a family publication. Let’s start with "conscience." Paul is the conscience of an industry built on innovation, perseverance and entrepreneurship. He is the moral compass by which we measure our past and our future. For more than 20 years Paul has seen the industry as not only a place to thrive in a free-market economy, but also as a place where it is equally important to give back to the industry and the community at large. This is evidenced in his tireless work for organizations such as The Walter Kaitz Foundation and Cable Positive.
Paul is also our historian, a man of letters who has recorded the evolution and growth of this industry for almost a quarter of a century. His writings have chronicled every aspect of this business and his insight and perspectives have allowed each reader to feel as though they are in the boardrooms of Comcast, Time Warner, Viacom, Discovery and even the FCC.
Throughout his illustrious career, Paul’s message has never waivered. Cable television is our business and we will fight to the end to insure that the vision of our founders will never waiver and never be compromised. Verizon FiOS, AT&T, DirecTV, Charlie Ergen—they are merely guests at our table. Without the likes of John Walson, Alan Gerry, Bill Bresnan, Ted Turner, John Hendricks and Ralph Roberts these "guests" would simply not exist.
If Ken Burns were to write a history of cable television, he would call Paul Maxwell first. If they were to bury a time capsule below the Cable Center in Denver, the first item they would ask for is Paul’s cowboy hat. If aliens from outer space came to Earth and saw cable television and asked what it was, the first person they would be told to find is Paul.
Favorite Max moment: NCTC Annual Meeting in Portland, Ore., 2003 or 2004. Paul is moderating a panel on the high cost of sports programming. Sean Bratches is facing off against a slew of angry NCTC operators. Paul comes out in a referee’s shirt, and the laughter was uncontrollable. As tense as the topic was, Paul put everyone at ease immediately. And finally, let’s all admit it—his MaxFAX column is a guilty pleasure and the best reason to come to work on a Monday. It is the "Page Six" of our industry and life would not be the same without it.
Ralph M. Baruch, founder and former CEO and chairman of Viacom
Paul Maxwell took up the cause of cable television when cable television had few friends indeed. He encouraged the industry in difficult times and in good times. I think programmers and cable operators alike owe Paul a great deal in the development of their industries.
Favorite Max moment: I well remember Paul filling in at the last minute as the emcee of the Cable Hall of Fame and doing a great job in entertaining the attendees there, at the same time, sending a serious message to all.
Jerry Maglio, president, Maglio & Associates Inc.
The best way for me to sum up Paul is that he’s a dragon slayer, a guy who is always worth reading because he tells it like it is and doesn’t pay homage to sacred cows. I find his opinions always stimulating and thought provoking. His columns have always been must-reading for me over the many years he has shared his voice with the industry.
Frank Drendel, CEO, CommScope
I think everyone in the industry has visited Paul in the “confessional.” There is no one who has been more trusted and more capable of keeping a secret while allowing the industry to communicate its true values.
Paul’s message to cable: Just do it! It is much easier to go downhill than up. As a great skier, Paul was always willing to accept the challenge that there must be a bottom to this hill somewhere.
Favorite Max moment: In the mid 1970s, Paul visited our family in Hickory, North Carolina, and we commenced a lifelong relationship. As I recall, I was one of his very first advertisers in one of his many, many, many publications that followed. I would bet we are one of the longest continuous supporters of the Maxwell empire of cable TV rags. The truth is, Paul really did invent “bundling.” He just keeps bundling more magazines for his empire!
Ann Carlsen, founder & CEO, Carlsen Resources Inc.
Paul has been the industry’s most vocal leader, cheerleader, catalyst and conscience for all of the 30 years I have been involved. I can’t imagine what the industry would be like without him.
Paul’s message to cable: Think ahead, take care of customers, innovate!
Favorite Max moment: He is so engaging and entertaining there are too many to mention. Every moment with Paul is a favorite for me.
Matthew M. Polka, president/CEO, American Cable Association
Paul has been cable’s conscience, counselor and coach. Paul, as a visionary thinker in his own business ventures, has always had the same vision for the cable industry, encouraging us all to keep looking ahead, facing problems head-on while preparing for the promise of tomorrow.
Paul’s message to cable: Paul has always communicated to us that the cable business is a great business we should feel proud of and blessed to be in. Despite the times our industry has faced criticism from policy makers, etc., Paul has encouraged us to press on for the sake of our customers and for our businesses and never let challenges deter us. The other main message Paul has communicated is that Washington, our chief industry regulator, needs to get real in how it deals with the cable industry to ensure that our businesses can, in fact, provide the advanced services Washington wants us to provide. His subtle, tongue-in-cheek, and not-so-subtle criticisms of Congress and the FCC have exposed bad policy for what it is—a barrier keeping consumers from receiving the services of tomorrow. Keep at ’em, Paul! Don’t stop now!
Favorite Max moment: Two things: First, meeting and getting to know Paul at the old Texas Show, where I always thought during the barbecue Paul seemed as comfortable as ever. And two, seeing Paul wearing a black-and-white striped referee shirt as he moderated a panel between programmers and operators at one of our independent cable meetings. It was classic Paul
David Zaslav, president & CEO, Discovery Communications Inc.
Paul is a "rebel with a cause." His cause has been, for the last 30 years, to have cable be the dominant force in every person’s home and to be the centerpiece of how people consume content. Paul’s great sense of humor and self-effacing manner have kept us all grounded and laughing over the years, but his good nature underscores a great entrepreneur who has not only created big assets, but in a very important way, helped communicate the values, attributes and flexibility of the cable business. Multichannel News and CableFAX are just two of the "bullhorns" that Paul used to strengthen his voice for the betterment of everyone. And in the end, Paul was right—the cable business was strong enough to create strong and differentiated content for viewers, and the cable operators’ pipe into the home was strong and flexible enough to provide content, broadband and phone.
Paul’s greatest attribute is that no one can spend time with him without both learning something and laughing at the same time.
Favorite Max moment: Watching Paul interview Ted Turner at the Western Show in 2001…the first time in 20 years that I have seen Paul "shaken," but he held tough, kept a straight face and pulled off one of the great interviews of all time.
Larry Satkowiak, president and CEO, The Cable Center
Just a couple of weeks after accepting my present job at The Cable Center, I saw an article written by Paul titled “What Should We Do With The Cable Center?” The article laid bare the challenges facing The Cable Center, but it also contained a glimmer of hope for the future. I think that this is the essence of Paul’s contribution to the cable industry. He holds up the mirror in front of our face and asks us the tough questions—even if we do not always like what we see. Paul loves this industry and its people—he knows our past, but he is also optimistic about our future.
Paul cares about the people in our industry; indeed, he has made a career of it. Paul says in public what a lot of us are thinking on the inside. He does it with humor and common sense, and sometimes that is exactly what we need to get through the day.
Favorite Max moment: In 2007, the emcee for the Hall of Fame dinner called the day of the event to say that he could not come to Colorado because he was in the hospital. I approached Paul at lunch, explained the situation and asked him if he would consider being the emcee for that evening. He did not hesitate a moment, shook my hand and agreed to do whatever he could to help. Paul has helped me in more ways than I can describe—his generosity is first rate.
Ray Joslin, SVP and member of the board of directors, Hearst Corp.; president Hearst Entertainment and Syndication, retired
Paul has made a huge contribution to cable television since he came into the industry in 1969. Unlike most of us at the time who saw ourselves as wannabe entrepreneurs, engineers and marketers, Paul was unique because he filled an editorial void. In jeans, boots, sometimes string tie and a cowboy hat, he embraced us all and provided a print platform for us when none existed. He launched or ran over 40 publications, including almost all of those serving the cable television industry. He even had time to become a successful popular song lyricist writing and performing in the early and mid-60s and got shot down in a helicopter as a captain serving his country in Vietnam.
His dedication to cable runs deep. He was one of us standing in Dorothea’s kitchen in 1979 after burying our great friend and mentor, Walter Kaitz. All of us, on the spot, decided to form the Walter Kaitz Foundation in his honor. Paul was a member of the foundation’s founding board, and served that effort for many years as he did Cable Positive, CTAM and The Cable Center. Like all of us at the time, he responded to the many Spencer Kaitz calls to arms, which would result in 20 to 25 CCTA members arriving in Sacramento to lobby the legislature. These efforts resulted in the passage of a deregulation bill in California, which set the standard for later national deregulation. When the cable programming sector of our business began in the late ’70s, he again became a man for all seasons by embracing us all, as difficult as it was at the time, by providing even better print platforms for understanding sometimes contentious issues. He, Evie and now Cody have always been there for all of us in this industry, and Paul has been recognized by his peers with at least three prestigious awards over the years—the NCTA Vanguard in 2000, membership in the Cable Pioneers and induction into the Cable Center Hall of Fame in 2004.
Congratulations Paul, on a great and productive career for our industry and thank you, on behalf of all of us, for your important friendship for so many years.
Favorite Max moment: It’s 1982, and Paul and I, as co-chairs of the planning committee for the first annual Walter Kaitz Foundation Dinner to be held the following year, were presenting our plans to the CCTA board of directors. Living and working in New York at the time and having attended several black-tie affairs in the city, I was making the point that New York was the right place to hold the dinners. “Build it and they will come,” was my position. Paul, on the other hand, stood up and argued for holding the event in several cities each year, i.e., Denver, Washington, Los Angeles and even New York. He said that enough people in our industry would not come to New York if it was the only venue, and the event would fail for lack of attendance. Somehow, the majority of the board supported my proposal and, as history shows, the event was hugely successful for 25 years being hosted in New York City. With Denver scheduled for the 26th dinner this year, Paul will probably claim that he was just ahead of the curve which, most of the time he really is…but not this time.
Bill Bresnan, chairman and CEO, Bresnan Communications
As a writer, editor and publisher during the most transformative years of the cable industry, Paul has kept watch over our business, reporting in detail its every twist and turn and initiating numerous publications, each of which has reflected its ongoing growth. He has always been an astute observer of the cable scene—objective in his news reports and insightful in his editorial comments. He has been of and for the industry, a friend to all but never hesitant to take on any one person or any one company in the interest of what he believed was the common good of our business. Paul is a unique journalist, and the cable industry is fortunate that ours is the industry he chose to call his.
Paul’s message to cable: Throughout his career as a journalist and publisher serving the cable industry, Paul has stressed the importance of optimism about cable’s future, but with caveats. He has urged caution, championed intelligent actions, fostered the notion that constructive criticism can be a launching pad to success and, above all, demonstrated by his own actions both on and off the page the importance of humor in even the darkest days.
Favorite Max moment: When the very first issue of Multichannel News was published, Paul personally delivered a copy to me and signed it for me. I value that issue and still have it in my office.
John Goddard, board member, CableLabs and BendBroadband; former president and CEO of Viacom Cable
Paul has been an entrepreneur of cable information publications and information services (remember “Xpress”), provided insightful analysis and has been a change agent. He has focused on the importance of the customer and innovation—being ahead of the disruptive technologies that our competitors will utilize.
Favorite Max moment: Being stuck with Paul in the “Rose Bowl Chair” at Beaver Creek in a blizzard with a wind chill of minus 20 degrees. Paul says, “Well, S_ _ _!”
Howard Burkat, marketing director, Odyssey Networks
I believe I was Paul’s first client when he was starting Multichannel News and I was at HBO. He gave me a very eloquent pitch—as only he can—as to why we should be in his new trade publication. I turned him down quickly because he was then representing the last in line of probably a dozen cable trade pubs…and no bargain either. Eventually, using the age-old techniques of chutzpah and bravado, he managed to cadge an order out of us for the first edition. And as this big anniversary shows, while the publication he serves has changed, he has continued to use those methods to this day. And we all know a lot more about our industry because of it.
Chuck Hewitt, president, Hewitt and Associates
Are there enough words in the dictionary to describe this man? Paul is absolutely a cable guy but he is also someone who embraces all forms of technology—thankfully that included satellite. Since I am not a cable guy, looking from the outside he is the source and focal point for keeping in tune to the cable (and satellite) industry. His vision, challenging and sometimes provocative thinking “out loud” stimulates his friends, business associates and, yes, even a satellite guy.
His most brilliant move was finding Evie, although one wonders about her judgment.