Plainville, Connecticut – With the “demo events” events on the immediate horizon (just 2 days away), Lou Palmer, who carried the title of Director of Programming, and Peter Fox, our first Executive Producer, officially went on the payroll November 15. Employee # 6, Bob Ronstrom, wasn’t officially on the payroll until December 1, 1978, but he was already working with Scott and JB Doherty putting budgets and projections together.
Lou and Peter took charge of production details for our “demo weekend” and even with the very short time available, they pulled it off as you’ll see in future posts.
Ed was keeping the Bristol Redevelopment Authority up to date as well as recruiting cable systems to carry our upcoming events.
I was calling NCAA TV Committee members and by the weekend, all six of us were immersed in the UConn “demo events.”
Financing and Transponder dominated this stretch of time. On September 20, K. S. Sweet and Associates (Tom Cushman and JB Doherty) said, “We believe we can help in several ways.” Those ways turned out to be interim financing, writing a business plan and helping us present the plan to potential investors. Great day!
SEPTEMBER 27, 1978: Confirming several conversations with Dennis Elliot at RCA Americom, JB, throughout the week leading to this day, had told us that the E. S. P. Network was indeed going to be announced as one of the transponder lessees. Today it happened!! Harold Rice, RCA Americom VP of Marketing, made it official and advised that a followup “Mailgram” was on its way. (Remember that this time period is way before computers, internet, etc. The physical confirmation arrived 6 DAYS LATER). The technology backbone was in place. Clearly, September 27, 1978, ranks as one of the most important days in the life of the E. S. P. Network and ESPN.
JB and I met with Dennis Elliot on October 3 to update him our plans. Since the “Confirming Mailgram” hadn’t arrived in Connecticut by the time of our scheduled meeting, I confess that I actually had a fleeting thought that Dennis was about to tell us that RCA had changed their mind. That thought was dispelled with his opening question, “What is it you have in mind for programming your transponder?” Alert to his use of the words “your transponder,’ I breathed a silent sigh of relief. We still needed programming content, advertising, subscribers and more financing, but from this day forward RCA Americom was solidly on our side – they wanted us to succeed and were prepared to help us launch the newest phase of content distribution o the budding cable industry. It turned out to be an amazing success for bot companies.