Everyone loves and appreciates Barbara York. She knows everyone in the cable industry, and she is truly an unsung hero of our industry. She not only produces what is probably one of the most complex industry shows that exists, one that creates a fabric to our industry, but she does it in a very unique way. I can’t imagine anybody doing what she does as well as she does. And she pulls so many people together to make it happen in such a terrific way. She creates so much value for us.
Every year we have an opportunity to come together as an industry and learn from each other, do business with each other, and she provides the platform to do this. There are so many things we are trying to accomplish with the national show that have to be carefully orchestrated, balanced and thought through, strategically and in many other ways. Year after year, she has approached that with the enthusiasm of doing it as if for the first time, with the knowledge and wisdom that comes from really deeply, deeply understanding our industry and the people involved.
When I was first in the industry, I remember meeting her at a show. She must have spent time with a thousand people at that show, but she took the time to literally, physically reach out. She came up to me and gave me a big old hug, and made me feel a part of the group, which is very typical of her. From that point on, she knew who I was.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve worked together on the show itself. I’ve been on the Cable Show committee for a number of years now. Working with her on the show is great. First of all, I’m amazed every year when we start the process. There are always different people involved and a different chair and a different agenda, specific issues that the industry is focused on, thinking about. She is always extremely creative in how she approaches it and thinks through how to balance all that, what we need to prioritize and lead. I don’t think there’s an ego in the industry that she doesn’t work well with, which is a skill in and of itself. There are lots of people to manage, and she does a really good job at that.
I think this year’s show is a really great example of her creativity. At this show, we have invited in other organizations to participate. For the first time, we’re having the Cable Advertising Bureau be a fairly significant part of the show. Advertising is such an important foundation of revenues for both programmers and operators. I’m not sure I know who reached out to whom, but Barbara embraced the opportunity to collaborate with CAB, to connect the two together, again, so that we could look at all facets of the industry.
As our industry has morphed and changed, which it has done substantially in the last 12 years, from primarily a cable platform to being the provider of all kinds of communications and telecommunications to consumers, Barbara has taken the industry through this passage so that the show really represents all the facets of what our industry does. That’s manifested in the speakers and panel discussions we have.
As a person, Barbara is really terrific. People truly love Barbara. She is fundamentally just a great person to know.
The industry is both very fortunate to have her, and enjoys relationships with her. She’s always got a big smile on her face, she’s enthusiastic, she loves our industry, she loves people.
Another important facet of Barbara is that she really, truly doesn’t look for accolades or attention. She does everything with such grace and wisdom, but never does she look for attention to be drawn to her.
Debora Wilson is president of the Weather Channel.