Whether it was through his work as The Cable Center’s ambassador, his many years with the Cable Television Pioneers, or his decades at HBO and TelePrompTer, there’s a good chance that most everyone in the industry encountered Les Read at some point. Or at least heard his booming voice, which narrated The Cable Center’s Hall of Fame and the Cable Pioneers dinners for years.
Read passed away Thursday evening in Long Island at the age of 82, with news quickly spreading among industry friends on social media. Read had experienced a cardiac condition earlier in the month, according to Jim Faircloth, exec dir of Cable TV Pioneers—an organization Read led for more than two decades.
“You cannot even think of the Cable Pioneers without thinking of Les. Les’ rich baritone has been silenced, but for our memories and the recordings that will always be treasured. There will never be another like Les,” Faircloth said, sending heartfelt condolences to Read’s wife, Anne, and his entire family.
Read’s industry resume includes helping build TelePrompTer from 23 cable systems to 120. In 1974, he joined HBO in affiliate relations, rising to vp until his retirement in December 2001—though many just called him “Mr HBO.” His amazing voice also was used by the programmer for on-air promotions.
“Les spent his 27 years at the company proudly devoted to making it a success. With a charm and sweetness never to be seen again, he was one of HBO’s greatest ambassadors. We will miss that huge smile and big heart,” HBO said.
In 2002, The Cable Center appointed Read as its ambassador, with the Pioneers naming him exec director emeritus when he stepped down in 2016.
“Throughout his career—and even after he retired—Les Read was an ambassador who drew attention to everything that is good about our industry,” said SCTE-ISBE pres/CEO Mark Dzuban.
Employees at The Cable Center recalled Read’s jovial presence over the years, with Diane Christman, svp, programs and development, remembering how he still called her “kiddo.” “Les made us all smile. He was immensely proud of the cable industry and his role in it. He knew everyone, had more stories than Mark Twain, and a great love for The Cable Center. Not only was he our official Ambassador, he was one of our great champions. Our sincerest condolences to Anne and the family, ” said Cable Center pres/CEO Jana Henthorn.
A service for Les Read has been scheduled for July 14 at 1:30pm at at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Port Washington, NY.