Cable TV has silenced an American Icon
Cable television first became available in 1948. A man named John Walson in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania came up with the idea and implemented it in order to provide television signals to people who bought sets from his appliance store. He charged the then expensive sum of $100 for the hookup and $2 per month. Wow, how times have changed!
In Los Angeles where I live, Time Warner outbid all other suitors to win the coveted Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cable package. Estimated at $7 Billion, TWC secured the rights through the year 2034.
It is a true windfall for the Dodgers, but TWC may have overplayed their hand. They did not heed the logic that sports are for the community that shows its loyalty. Instead, they have shut out more than 5 million L. A. Residents from enjoying the games. They put greed ahead of the fans.
In fact, Direct-TV, the United States leading Satellite supplier, has indicated that even though they are not carrying the Dodgers games, (TWC is trying to make a deal with other carriers in the area to no avail), they have felt little, or no “churn”.
“Churn” is an industry term indicating the turnover of customers.
As I said, because of the TWC deal, there are over 5 million Los Angelinos who cannot view the games. Among them is Vin Scully who has been doing Dodger broadcasts since 1950. Many consider baseball our national pastime. If that is true, than Vinny is its living treasure.
In the area that both Vinny and I live, we cannot receive Time Warner Cable. Thankfully, there is still the medium of radio and here fans can listen to the dulcet tones and the visual descriptions of this 86-year-old master of speech therapy.
He was with the Dodgers when they still played in Brooklyn. At that time, the great Jackie Robinson was playing second base. He called Sandy Koufax’s perfect game. Just picture this… all baseball fans know that on the scoreboard, or in the scorecard the letter “K” stands for a strikeout.
Vinny described it this way, “That ‘K’ stands out even more than the O-U-F-A-X”… Get the picture?
I first met Vinny in 1954. It was a cold blizzard night and we were broadcasting a Boston University/ Maryland game atop the snowy and cold roof of what was then Braves Field Boston. Vinny was there for the CBS Network doing a radiocast entitled “Red Barber’s Football Roundup”. I was there calling the game for a local Boston Station.
Little did I know that our paths would not only cross many times over the years, but also I would have the pleasure of working with him on multiple projects.
Among the projects was the successful CBSTV show that Tommy Cook and I created, “Challenge of the Sexes.” Over the five years it ran, Vinny was our anchor. During that time in different seasons he had three co-hosts, Phyllis George ( Miss America), Jane Kennedy ( Miss Ohio)and Olympic Skier Suzie Chafee (commercially known as Suzie Chapstick).
His wordsmith approach immediately endears him to anyone who hears him. He conveys exactly the way he feels. It is the spirited young voice that for 65 years has never been boring, because he is in love… and he lets his audience be part of his love affair for the game.
I have worked with many Hall-of-Fame Broadcasters, but when it comes to Vinny, he truly is one-of-a-kind.
Thankfully, we still have radio and we are blessed that he is still at the microphone…
Shame on you Time Warner and the Dodgers!