Veteran Cable Guy Egan Retraces Musical Roots One of my favorite dinner conversation starters has always been Desert Island Disc… You know. You’re going to be stranded on a deserted island for two years; what five discs do you take? This week marks the 38th anniversary of the legendary Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. So I decided to make a phone call and play a little game of DID with the industry’s de facto 1960s music expert, former Cablevision Industries programming head Mike Egan. Mike, one of the most universally respected and admired MSO execs of his day, has been consulting since CVI was swallowed by Time Warner over a decade ago. What you may not know is that over the past couple of years Mike himself has become consumed—this by a project dropped in his lap by his former boss, Alan Gerry. Gerry’s Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, built on the site of the original Woodstock, will feature a multi-media museum designed to celebrate the social and cultural impact of not only the festival but the remarkable decade that preceded it. It has been Mike’s job, and some might argue his obsession, to make the museum a reality by next spring. When I caught up with Mike, he was more than eager to talk music despite being feverishly busy trying to finalize details in an attempt to make his deadline. Mike proudly rattled off some of the eclectic mix of shows Bethel Woods has featured over the past two summers—performers ranging from Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills & Nash and Brad Paisley to jazz legend Dave Brubeck and the New York Philharmonic. He also waxed eloquent about the recent show put on by former Levon Helm, the former drummer of the Band who for years has lived just down the road from Bethel. In addition to his five desert island discs, what I wanted to know from Mike is why I continue to see him at trade events like the NCTA’s Cable Show and the CTAM Summit. He told me that not only will he go back to consulting with his handful of MSO clients after the Museum at Bethel Woods opens, but that his many cable contacts have been instrumental in helping piece together the legacy of Woodstock and the sixties. In particular, Mike wooed two old and dear friends of mine, A&E’s Libby O’Connell—whose History Channel produced a compelling show for the museum—and Warner Brothers Entertainment cable distribution guru Eric Frankel, who ran interference for Mike as he sought to license hours of original and largely unseen concert footage. Besides, he told me, there’s one overriding reason he still goes to cable shows and will continue to do so for as long as he can. Mike Egan is a cable guy. "Hey, I’m never going to be far from the industry," he told me. "Cable’s in my blood." And as for his five discs… As Egan’s ship was sinking, this is what you might find stuffed under his belt as he swam toward the island in the horizon: "Pet Sounds" by the Beach Boys… The Beatles’ "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band"… "Songs for Swingin’ Lovers" by Frank Sinatra… Van Morrison’s "Moondance"… And his unexpected sleeper pick (which edged out "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead’s "American Beauty"): "After Midnight" by the Nat King Cole Trio. M.C. Antil can be reached at m.c.antil@att.net.

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