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Clayton Banks

Media executive Clayton Banks attended California State University at Fullerton from 1980 to 1985, and graduated with his B.A. degree in speech communications and business administration. In 2000, with a scholarship from the National Cable & Telecommunication Association (NCTA) & the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity In Communications (NAMIC), Banks completed the Executive Management Program at Harvard Business School.

From 1994 to 1997, Banks served as the senior vice president of sales and marketing for Sega Channel. In 1997, he joined Comedy Central as the vice president of affiliate relations. While at Comedy Central, he was part of the launch of “South Park,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and “The Upright Citizens Brigade.” In 1998, Banks became the regional director at Showtime Networks, and later in that year he founded Ember Media Corporation, where he has produced multimedia and broadband content for Discovery Networks, HBO, Pepsi Corp., Bloomberg TV and Showtime Networks. Between 2011 and 2013, Banks developed the “More Than A Mapp” mobile application and website that features over three-hundred African American landmarks and points of interests. He has implemented multi-platform strategies for the Essence Music Festival, MTV, ESPN, New York Institute of Technology and other top brands.

Banks was elected president of NAMIC from 1996 to 1998, where he championed programs such as the Patrick Mellon Mentoring Program and the NAMIC Chapter Leadership Forum. Banks served as a member of the board of directors for the Armory Track and Field Foundation, a board member for the Academy of Innovative Technology High School and is an active participant in the “Principal for a Day” program in New York City.

Clayton Banks was interviewed by The HistortyMakers on January 14, 2013.

Accession Number

A2014.005

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/14/2014

Last Name

Banks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

A.

Occupation
Schools

California State University, Fullerton

Harvard Business School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Clayton

Birth City, State, Country

San Diego

HM ID

BAN05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

Dominican Republic

Favorite Quote

Education Is The Key To Open The Golden Doors Of Freedom.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/5/1960

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spaghetti

Short Description

Media executive Clayton Banks (1960 - ) founded Ember Media Corp. in 1998 and served as president of NAMIC from 1996 to 1998, where he lobbied for minority-owned business incentives and increasing the number of minorities in the cable television business.

Employment

Ember Media

Comedy Central

Sega Channel

Showtime Networks

Favorite Color

Orange

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Clayton Banks narrates his photographs

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Slating of Clayton Banks' interview

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Clayton Banks lists his favorites

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Clayton Banks talks about his father's childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Clayton Banks talks about his mother's family background and her personality

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Clayton Banks describes how his parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Clayton Banks lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Clayton Banks describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Clayton Banks describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, California

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Clayton Banks describes his personality as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Clayton Banks talks about his family's cross-country road trip in 1972

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Clayton Banks talks about a family road trip to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Clayton Banks talks about his brother's career as a triple jumper

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Clayton Banks talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Clayton Banks talks about playing sports with his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Clayton Banks describes his childhood home

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - Clayton Banks describes his childhood neighborhood in Oceanside, California

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Clayton Banks talks about his schooling and the student body demographic at Oceanside High School in Oceanside, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Clayton Banks talks about his high school activities

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Clayton Banks talks about his disinterest in the U.S. Military

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Clayton Banks talks about his decision to attend California State University-Fullerton in Fullerton, California and race relations on the campus

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Clayton Banks talks about majoring in communications at California State University-Fullerton in Fullerton, California

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Clayton Banks describes his experience as an undergraduate student at California State University-Fullerton

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Clayton Banks talks about his first job after college

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Clayton Banks describes working as a sales associate for Xerox

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Clayton Banks describes working at Showtime Networks

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Clayton Banks talks about mergers in the cable industry

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Clayton Banks talks about the campaign to launch The Movie Channel

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Clayton Banks talks about the revenue and pricing models for cable during the early 1990s

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Clayton Banks talks about the competition between HBO and Showtime

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Clayton Banks talks about Showtime executive Dennis Johnson and how a NAMIC connection led him to work at Sega Channel

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Clayton Banks describes the history of NAMIC

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Clayton Banks talks about his relationship with NAMIC members Don Anderson and HistoryMaker Douglas Holloway

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Clayton Banks talks about his tenure as president of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Cable

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Clayton Banks talks about the value NAMIC provides for its members and corporations

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Clayton Banks talks about NAMIC's funding

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Clayton Banks talks about the significance of the Sega Channel

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Clayton Banks talks about the cost and pricing model for Sega Channel

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Clayton Banks describes the Sega Channel's target audience and subscription base

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Clayton Banks talks briefly about his relationship with cable industry veteran Jamie Howard

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Clayton Banks talks about joining Comedy Central in 1997

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Clayton Banks talks about the impact of 'South Park' on Comedy Central

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Clayton Banks describes meeting HistoryMaker Isaac Hayes, the voice of "Chef" on 'South Park'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Clayton Banks talks about leaving Comedy Central and starting Ember Media

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Clayton Banks describes working with DigiCard technology

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Clayton Banks talks about potential in digital media development

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Clayton Banks talks about the evolution of Ember Media into a full-service digital strategy firm

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Clayton Banks predicts changes cable companies will have to make to remain competitors in the future

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Clayton Banks talks about data-driven television programming

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Clayton Banks talks about the current state of African Americans in the telecommunications industry

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Clayton Banks reflects over his twenty-five year career

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Clayton Banks talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Clayton Banks considers what he would do differently in his career

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Clayton Banks talks about his personal and professional role models and mentors

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Clayton Banks reflects upon his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

1$2

DATitle
Clayton Banks talks about Showtime executive Dennis Johnson and how a NAMIC connection led him to work at Sega Channel
Clayton Banks describes the history of NAMIC
Transcript
--He [Dennis Johnson] ultimately became president of NAMIC [National Association of Minorities in Cable, later National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications] in '94 [1994], and then I became president of NAMIC in '96 [1996].$$Okay.$$(Simultaneous)--(Inaudible response).$$So you were talking about Dennis Johnson, okay.$$Okay. So NAMIC has played a tremendous role in my career. When I joined Showtime in '88 [1988], '89 [1989], one of the first people I met at Showtime was a gentleman by the name of Dennis Johnson, and Dennis Johnson was essentially the highest-ranking African American at Showtime at that time, and was head of programming, you know, part of the programming team. He had a long, distinguished career even before he joined Showtime, and he had worked on the 'Tonight Show' and all types of other activities. So he was a, a, a, a smart, capable guy that took me under his wing, and he was one of the people that introduced me to NAMIC, National Association of Multi-Ethnicity In Cable. And he encouraged me in my career, and was vital to me moving from California to New York; he was a well-respected man. Unfortunately, he just passed December 23rdrd in 2013, and--but, but he became president of NAMIC National in the mid-'90s [1990s], and I ultimately joined his board. Once I, you know, moved to New York and got involved, you know, even deeper, I joined his board and then I became the national president in 1996. So NAMIC has played an essential role in my career because I've met great people in, in my tenure as president. I was speaking at Penn State [Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania] to a group around a NAMIC event, and I met a gentleman on the panel named Bob Gerrard [Robert J. Gerrard, Jr.] and Bob Gerard, general counsel of HBO [Home Box Office], had been partnering with a guy named Stan Thomas [Stanley B. Thomas, Jr.], who was starting a network called Sega Channel, and Bob and I hit it off at Penn State and he said, "You oughta talk to us about joining us for Sega Channel." And at that time, I thought I'd never leave Showtime, but the opportunity to work for an African American chairperson, and I saw--I was already a video game nut, so the idea of bein' able to merge all that together was, was quite attractive, and I actually left a great career at Showtime for a start-up called Sega Channel.$Now I wanna, I wanna take you back a little bit just to talk about NAMIC [National Association of Minorities in Cable, later National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications] and what it is, and the history of it, you know, which you would have a lot of information and, you know, the founders and that type of thing.$$Well NAMIC was founded in 1980 by a group of young cable professionals that saw this industry becoming a very large industry, and the opportunities were limited for minorities, so it--typically in that case, you wanna formulate, you know, sort of a trade association, which NAMIC became, to encourage diversity in the industry. And a lotta great--one of the great founders is a guy named [L.] Patrick Mellon, who passed away, but he was an executive at TeleCable, and he became a mentor for many of us that, that came behind him, but he saw a vision, along with, you know, some of the other founders, that we could make a difference, and that difference is diversity, and we're seeing, you know, people like [Robert L.] Bob Johnson and, and [HM] Debra Lee and others that are, are, are able to succeed as a result of some of the efforts that NAMIC has put in, everything from doing studies around, you know, minority penetration in various places to being able to provide training for executives on, on, on how to, you know, how to run organizations, and things of that nature. We have--NAMIC has great programs across the board from all types of people. Now one of the things that we find is that a majority of the people of color are working in lower-end jobs, so we have to--we have to train those people to become mid-managers, and those people to become managers, and those people to become presidents. And so NAMIC plays a vital role in all of that.$$So who were some of the early people that you met, you know, in the industry, you know--you mentioned, and where are they located?$$Well, I first joined NAMIC in California, and so again, Dennis Johnson was a key person. We had a sort of an executive director that worked out of California, and her name was Reesa Booker [ph.]; she's still around, but Reesa Booker took me under her wing as well, and saw me as a, you know, an up-and-comer, and so she really helped me to, to see the potential in myself, but also in, in my leadership at NAMIC. Joe Lawson was another sort of good role model; he had been in the industry as well, and was working on the MSO [multiple-systems operator] side, and so when we put the Southern California Chapter together, we were all part of that. Kathy Johnson, who ended up running--bein' the president of NAMIC as well, all of us did--become president of NAMIC (laughter) at some point, but she was also very influential. She was working at Time Warner and I was her rep [representative], so we would always talk about NAMIC. And so in Southern California, these people were the--were shaping me, you know, helping me to understand how important it was to be involved in NAMIC and how important NAMIC, you know, what role that NAMIC would play in my career, which it did. I always tell the story that NAMIC made me a vice president before corporate America did. NAMIC made me a president before corporate America did, and yet I had the same sort of duties, as a vice president or a president, as I would in corporate America, so I always tell people, you know, "Don't underestimate what you can do in an organization." So these people were important in shaping who I was, and when I moved to New York [New York], then I met the whole New York sort of style of leadership, and people like Eric Lilly, who had become the president of NAMIC, New York, and this is when the, the great, you know, Nate Garner and [HM Douglas] Doug Holloway took me under their wing; they were both at USA networks and, you know, veterans of NAMIC, founders of NAMIC, so they were key in my development as well, and encouraged me to join the board, and ultimately I was one of the youngest presidents in the history of NAMIC.