The Evangelists: Andrew Fisher

Apr 23, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Title: President, Cox Television.
TV stations owned: 15, which cover 10.3 percent of the country.
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Education: Master’s and undergraduate degrees from Brown University
First Job: Weekend radio news anchor at WICE, Providence.
Background: Mr. Fisher is one of the few station-group heads whose roots lie in journalism. While he was in college in the ’60s studying political science, he also worked as a writer for the 11 p.m. news on WPRI-TV. “I was absolutely going to be a doctor or lawyer,” Mr. Fisher said. “I saw this purely as a hobby.”
While at the station, Mr. Fisher’s union went on strike. “I’m one of the few guys in positions like mine who actually walked a picket line,” he said. “I learned that broadcast strikes are not terribly good things to be involved in. Most of the guys who went on strike lost their jobs.”
Mr. Fisher ended up resigning and then got a job offer at WCBS-TV, New York, to cover the college beat. But before he could accept, the news director who gave him the offer was fired and the new news director, Ed Joyce, said he would “stay in touch.” Mr. Fisher, a Brooklyn native, responded with unabashed chutzpah. “I wrote him a letter, which I kept … telling him it was a mistake not to hire me,” Mr. Fisher recalled, “that he was really missing a good thing by not taking me at that time. Ed probably forgot about the letter.”
Mr. Fisher went to KWTV, Oklahoma City, as a reporter, then to WQXI-TV, which is now WXIA-TV, Atlanta. But after only six weeks there, he got a job offer from Mr. Joyce. He finally arrived at WCBS-TV in 1973. “It was wonderful. It was my hometown, the largest TV station in the free world,” Mr. Fisher said.
Mr. Fisher left the reporter beat for management, first as assistant news director at WCAU-TV, Philadelphia, and WBBM-TV, Chicago, then as news director at WAGA-TV, Atlanta.
In 1983, Mr. Fisher was about to go to law school when he was offered the news director job at KNXT-TV, Los Angeles, now KCBS-TV.
A year later, then-Cox Television President Walter Liss lured Mr. Fisher back to Atlanta as general manager at WSB-TV, a rival station to WAGA. “One year after I left WAGA, he brought me back as general manager of WSB-TV to undo the damage I had done competing against it. It was an enormous risk-it was, by some standards, crazy-and to Walter I will always be indebted. My mom was still waiting for me to be a lawyer, and she said, `Oh my God, this is going to be a career.”’
After six years at WSB, Mr. Fisher was promoted to overseeing five network-affiliated stations. In 2000 he was promoted to executive vice president of the television group. Earlier this year, he became president of Cox Television.