It was in 1968 that I was afforded an opportunity of an International salesmen's lifetime by joining CBS Enterprises in New York.
I was to replace my friend Larry Hilford who was moving on to other areas of CBS. I reported to Willard Block, and our company's leader was Ralph Baruch, the VPGM of our company. Moving to CBS at 51 West 52nd Street from Screen Gems at 711 Fifth Avenue was geographically only 4 or 5 blocks, but it was like finding a whole new business world.
Ralph has written a book entitled; "Television Tightrope: How I Escaped Hitler, Survived CBS and Fathered Viacom."
Ralph's career covers nearly 60 years in the broadcast and cable media, and he continues to be active in an industry that he watched be born.
As an active, albeit less significant player in the same "media" business, Ralph's book chronicles an unbelievable and unlikely set of circumstances that covers the history of an industry. If you are at all interested in finding out how "things" got to be the way they are, read the book.
I would like to confess a few things.
I predicted that there would never be a video rental business in the United States.
I predicted that with the advent of Cable and Satellite delivery of content that the Television networks would be almost out of business shortly after the turn of the century.
I predicted that Viacom would collapse within its first five years.
I predicted that the Supreme Court would not hear the Florida election issue as it was for the State courts to ameliorate.
When CBS spun off Viacom, I "abandoned" Ralph to return to Screen Gems and go each day to work at 711 Fifth Avenue.
The first Viacom President was Clark George, a major league nut case. Had Ralph been in charge I never would have left, but alas, he was not.
I did want to acknowledge Ralph Baruch for creating VIACOM from Viacom. It is difficult to imagine that the company spun out of CBS would survive and years later buy CBS.
This company has evolved into one of Americas true gigantic media conglomerates that I have grown to hate. It is an American tradition for Companies like Viacom to get bigger and more profitable, and that is what Ralph Baruch accomplished.
Here are a few quotes from the book that are particularly meaningful to me.
"I will always be in America's debt."
"Television, in good part an American invention, became the ship that carried my own ambitions. I was young and so was it. We grew up together."
"In the process I took television to much of the world. Each time I returned home more certain that I was blessed to live in the greatest land on earth. Thank you, America."
As your Aussie friends would say "good on ya mate!"
Proud CBS/Viacom Alum