By Chuck Ross, Managing Director, TVWeek
After 32 years of publishing by Crain Communications Inc., first in print and then online, TVWeek.com is changing owners. The site and newsletters will remain, but I will become the sole proprietor of the TV Week business that I’ve overseen for the past 15 years.
As part of the new business arrangement between myself and Crain, the site, including its content, sales activity and general management will transfer to me – though from your perspective as a reader, there should be little change.
For me personally, it has already been a great run.
TVWeek originally launched in 1982 as Electronic Media (or E.M., as everyone called it then), the brainchild of Rance Crain, president of the company that bears his name. It was a spinoff of Advertising Age. Rance felt he needed a publication in addition to Ad Age to cover other aspects of video programming, and in 1982 EM was born. It quickly became the bible of the syndication business, under the leadership of Ron Alridge, first as editor, then for many years as publisher.
It was under Ron that David Klein joined EM as news editor, later becoming editor. A number of years later, after Ron had retired, David moved over to run Advertising Age, while still supervising EM. It was 19 years ago last month that Scott Donaton (now Chief Content Officer for North America at DigitasLBi) hired me to be a reporter for Ad Age, with David’s approval. Four years later, in January of 2000, David asked me to become the editor of EM (and later publisher), and I’ve been here ever since, with David as my boss.
Last year, David became a group publisher with Crain, replacing Gloria Scoby. Like Gloria before him, David has always been a big booster of EM — which became TVWeek in 2003 — and of myself.
A bigger reason that we’ve had a 32-year run here is spelled C-R-A-I N.
Rance and his brother Keith — and the next generation, Chris and KC — are all huge believers that journalism is not just any business. They believe that it’s a business in which they serve the readers of their publications with the news of the industries they cover, and the chips will fall where they may. It’s a philosophy that Rance and Keith inherited from their dad, G.D. Crain Jr., who started the company.
I remember once that Jeff Zucker, when he was at NBC, called me, furious about a column Tom Shales had written while working as a columnist for us. We lost some advertising over that story, as we did from time to time from other pieces we’d write that other TV executives didn’t like. But there was never any pressure from the Crains when we lost these sponsors (and they almost always came back to advertise again, by the way). But what the Crains always insisted we do was to publish stories that were truthful and fair.
The other day I was leafing through a Crain publication. A VERY old one. Over 90 years old. One piece that caught my eye in this publication was about an industry that, in 1919, did business in the U.S. that was the equivalent of $2.7 billion today. It employed about 65,000 people nationwide, the article said. Big manufacturing cities for this industry, besides New York and Philly, were Danbury, Conn., Orange, N. J., and Bethel, Norwalk, South Norwalk, and New Milford, all in Connecticut. The primary trade publication for this industry had been started almost 50 years earlier, in 1872.
By the sixties, this industry had virtually disappeared. It was the men’s hat business, and the trade publication, also gone, was called American Hatter.
I read this in the second edition of “Crain’s Market Data Book and Directory of Class, Trade and Technical Publications,” which G.D. Crain Jr published early in his career. Class, along with Hospital Management, was one of the first two publications G.D. launched, beginning in 1916. The point being that Crain has deep roots in journalism and while businesses may come and go, the fundamentals of journalism, as articulated by G.D. Crain Jr almost 100 years ago — where one’s biggest responsibility is to you, the reader — have not changed.
But, of course, the business end of journalism has changed and continues to evolve. And for that Crain is well positioned, as it continues to be an outstanding company with terrific values and great people, from the top on down. In other words, it’s a class organization, and I could not be prouder of my almost two decades of association with the family and their business.
The headline for this piece begins with the phrase “And Awaaay We Go!” I’ve borrowed that from the late great Jackie Gleason. Gleason was one of the first big stars on TV, first with the Dumont network and then CBS.
Though best remembered today for his portrayal of Ralph Kramden on “The Honeymooners,” for a number of years he hosted a variety program. That show would open with the June Taylor Dancers and then Gleason would come on. After a brief monologue, he’d often end this first part of his program with a short shuffle and the words “And awaaay we go!”
What I love about his use of the expression is that it didn’t represent the ending of the hour, but the beginning of that week’s new show. And so, awaaay we go!