Crazy Like a Fox

Mar 3, 2003  •  Post A Comment

I came to Electronic Media in May 1989 as a kid reporter out of the University of Iowa. In the time since I have been quite fortunate to meet a lot of inspiring people, many considered quasi-crackpots if not certifiably sanity-challenged, were you to believe The Establishment when I first met them.
True characters such as Don Ohlmeyer and Lucie Salhany and Ted Turner. Resolute and loud dreamers such as Grant Tinker and Mel Harris, Barry Diller and Jamie Kellner. People who always forced their own egos to trail behind the whims of their consumer; like the late Brandon Tartikoff, who appreciated television’s dual role as business enterprise and social medium enough to place “Manimal” on the same schedule as “Hill Street Blues” and “St. Elsewhere” and not be apologetic about it.
On my first day at EM, I got to meet Ted Turner. Three days after that, I found myself sitting down with Tartikoff-talking about how he created “Gorilla My Dreams Week” at WLS-TV in Chicago and discussing why he’d recently labeled the two-night-a-week never-going-anywhere Fox Broadcasting Co. a “coat hanger network.”
Fox became my first and best story that I ever got to cover, and I could hardly have known then that the broadcaster would ultimately become my career. I like to think that I may not have ink beneath my nails anymore, but it still runs through my veins. Today I’m still covering Fox; I’m just doing it from the inside out rather than the outside in.
Following Fox has made for a truly interesting and fun career because it typically made everything up as it went (just as everyone does), but it at least tried to be honest about doing it that way. If popular opinion and the mainstream suggested one thing, you could always count on Fox to provide an alternative. And we need that philosophy more today than ever if we don’t want the great characters and true aficionados of television as cultural enterprise and business entertainment to lurch a few times and then die away.
Tom Tyrer is senior VP of corporate communications for the Fox Cable Networks Group. Before that he served as VP of corporate communications for Fox Broadcasting Co. He was with Electronic Media between 1989 and 1995, working as both a staff reporter and Los Angeles bureau chief.