We’re supposed to be impartial, but for reasons of transparency, we’ll say upfront we like Dan Mulvenon. A lot. You’d be
hard pressed to find anyone in the industry who doesn’t. As former NCTC chief Mike Pandzik says, “Dan is one of those perfect guys who make both great friends and great coworkers. He’s smart, funny, hard-working, experienced and a steady hand in a crisis. Geez—what’s not to like?”
A 20-year NCTC veteran, this soft-spoken VP, Communications is retiring from the co-op after the Independent Show this month. While he has left an indelible mark on the organization, he argues NCTC has been “a life-changing experience” for him. In a story we told in our 2010 edition, Dan’s younger son James socialized with Corie Garrett each summer at the NCTC annual shows—later the Independent Show. James and Corie were married in 2010. Corie’s dad, Ty Garrett, is a longtime cable operator, based in Sykeston, MO. “I got a daughter-inlaw and a family from this job,” Mulvenon says.
Need more evidence that cable is in Mulvenon’s DNA? Dan has spent nearly his entire adult life in the industry. Even his wife has a cable connection [see page 24]. As his high school’s newspaper editor, Mulvenon was asked to do a school news show on the Salina, KS, local origination channel. The lad’s talent led to his becoming a reporter and anchor even as he began matriculating at the University of Kansas. Later he was asked to do weather. “I took a meteorology course in college, but I was far from a meteorologist,” Dan quips.
After college Mulvenon joined HBO’s regional sales office in Kansas City, working in management training and customer service. A bit later, he left cable for the Miller Brewing Company, helping to train beer salesmen in classrooms and through videos. Pandzik brought him back to the cable fold in 1994 to join NCTC.
Always ready to help and with a perpetual smile on his face, Mulvenon played a critical role in the co-op’s early years. “Many independent operators felt like they were alone on an island,” says ACA EVP/Chief of Staff Rob Shema. “Dan was the answer man when members called in to ask for help.” Mulvenon says the genesis of this function was serendipitous. “My office was near the front desk,” he says. “When
the receptionist needed help on a call, I was nearby.” But he went the extra mile. “I kept notes, so I could be more useful and refer newer operators to more experienced members… that’s still a great thing about NCTC, the comradery and the peer-to-peer sharing.”
He’s also proud of NCTC’s growth to 900 members. “What we’ve been able to accomplish here has been tremendous,” he says. NCTC, Mulvenon believes, was “well conceived and well managed and that’s why it’s thriving 30 years later.” The need remains too. “It’s a difficult environment for independent operators, struggling with rising program costs and retransmission fees… but I’m very proud of our members, they were so quick to introduce broadband.” He also salutes independents who invest in local programming. “That’s my
roots… They produce impressive programs… I’d like to see more of them do it.”
What’s next for this Cable Pioneer? In the fall, Mulvenon will begin leading a program in his local school district that assists special-needs students in acquiring job skills. “It’s a way to help the community and students.” Once a helper, always a helper.
As an 18-year-old cable journalist, Mulvenon interviewed
Walter Cronkite, admitting it was a bit intimidating. He also
chatted with “Brady Bunch” maid Ann B. Davis, “a very
nice lady, much smaller than I had imagined.”
Former NCTC chief Mike Pandzik hired Mulvenon 3 times:
at HBO’s regional office in Kansas City, at Studioline, and
at NCTC. “I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to hire him a
fourth time, but Dan’s phone number is on my iPhone, so I
know where to find him!”