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Vera F. Wells

Television executive Vera F. Wells was born on December 31, 1944 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated second in her class from Pittsburgh’s Peabody High School in 1963. Wells went on to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study psychology, but left before graduating to move with her husband to New Haven, Connecticut, where she worked for Community Progress, Inc. In 1969, Wells graduated from Yale University with her B.A. degree in psychology in 1971, the first coeducational graduating class. While at Yale University, Wells helped to create a new seminar called The Black Women and the Chubb Conference on the Black Woman, which brought Professor Sylvia Ardyn Boone to the university. Boone would become the first tenured African American woman on the Yale faculty upon her promotion in 1988.

After graduating, Wells became the director for School Volunteers for New Haven, Inc. She spent the summer of 1972 assisting Elga R. Wasserman on the Carnegie Council on Children alongside Sylvia Ardyn Boone, whom she had befriended at Yale University. In the 1970s, Wells spent two years at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts to study organizational management. She then became the associate director of the international division at the National Council of Negro Women where she conducted field research in East and West Africa. After returning to the U.S., Wells accepted a position in promotional research at NBC’s headquarters in New York City. She was eventually promoted to director of audience services. In this role, Wells oversaw the creation and standardization of closed captioning at NBC, following the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. After the death of Sylvia Ardyn Boone in 1993, Wells became the founder and director of the Sylvia Ardyn Boone Memorial Project at Yale University’s Timothy Dwight College. The memorial project houses the collection of Boone’s literary and personal papers and awards both undergraduate and graduate scholarships to students working in the fields of African and African American art.

Wells served as a member of the University Council at Yale University for ten years. Within the council, she was a founding committee member of YaleWomen, Inc. and the Theater Review Committee. Wells also served on the boards of the National Advisory Council of the Yale Black Alumni Association, the Yale Development Board and the Yale Tomorrow Campaign. In 2007, Wells was honored with the Yale Medal for her volunteer service to the university.

Vera F. Wells was interview by The HistoryMakers on June 28, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.135

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/28/2018 |and| 6/30/2018

Last Name

Wells

Maker Category
Middle Name

F.

Organizations
First Name

Vera

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

WEL07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa; Italy; Saint Croix

Favorite Quote

We all yearn for transcendence, ... (Sylvia Boone)

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/31/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Television executive Vera F. Wells (1944- ) was a member of the first coeducational graduating class of at Yale University in 1971, a long-time executive at NBC, and the founding director of the Sylvia Ardyn Boone Memorial Project at Yale University.

Favorite Color

Brown

Frank Mercado-Valdes

Broadcast executive Frank Mercado-Valdes was born on May 18, 1962 in New York City to Frank Mercado and Linda Valdes. At the age of fifteen, Mercado-Valdes became the Florida Junior Olympic boxing champion, and won the state’s Golden Gloves Lightweight Championship in 1979. He graduated from Coral Gables Senior High School in 1980, and received his A.A. degree in political science from Miami-Dade Community College in 1983. Mercado-Valdes went on to earn his B.S. degree in political science from the University of Miami in 1985.

In 1985, Mercado-Valdes founded the first Miss Collegiate Black American Pageant, held at the Miami Marine Stadium. He was then hired as the media coordinator for the 1988 Bush-Quayle presidential campaign. In 1990, he secured a deal with Universal Studios to televise the Miss Collegiate Black America Pageant. He also launched the African Heritage Network, a television syndication and production company, which bought the syndication rights to films like Cotton Comes to Harlem, Porgy and Bess, and Shaft. In 1993, The African Heritage Network introduced the “Movie of the Month” series, hosted by actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Mercado-Valdes went on to serve as an executive producer of Stomp!, a nationally televised stepping competition and performance program. In 1994, The African Heritage Network served as an executive producer for A Tribute to Alex Haley, a program highlighting the accomplishments of the Roots author. In 1996, Mercado-Valdes secured the weekend syndication rights of the popular police drama New York Undercover, making The African Heritage Network the first minority-owned company to purchase a major network series for syndication. In 1997, Mercado-Valdes also purchased the rights to Kensington Publishing Group’s Arabesque Books, the first and only African American romance book line. In 2002, Mercado-Valdes developed the televisions shows The Source: All Access, based on the popular hip-hop magazineThe Source, and N’Gear, a behind-the-scenes look at urban fashions, designers, and models. Later that year, The African Heritage Network was renamed to The Heritage Networks, and Mercado-Valdes developed the television program Livin’ Large, a hip-hop version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. In 2003, Mercado-Valdes secured syndication and production rights for Showtime at the Apollo. He resigned from The Heritage Network in 2004, and served as the chief strategic officer for Soul of the South Television from 2011 to 2014. Mercado-Valdes became the managing director of Fair Market Value Consultants and the executive director of San Juan Hill Partners in 2016.

Frank Mercado-Valdes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 30, 2018.

Accession Number

A2018.075

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/30/2018

Last Name

Mercado-Valdes

Maker Category
Organizations
First Name

Frank

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

MER03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Catskill Mountains

Favorite Quote

It's Up To You To Make It Happen.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

5/18/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Favorite Food

Pork Chops

Short Description

Broadcast executive Frank Mercado-Valdes (1962- ) launched The African Heritage Network, a syndication and production company.

Favorite Color

Purple

Lyne Pitts

Television executive and journalist Lyne Johnson Pitts was born on December 12, 1954 in Washington, D.C. She attended the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and graduated from Stanford University with her B.A. degree in communications in 1976.

Upon graduation, Pitts was hired as an editor for the Ravenswood Post in East Palo Alto, California. From 1977 to 1978, she worked as a writer at KPIX-TV, the CBS owned station in San Francisco. Pitts went on to serve as a writer and producer at KTLA-TV from 1978 to 1980 and at CBS’s KNXT (now KCBS-TV) from 1980 until 1984. She was then hired by CBS News in 1984 as a broadcast producer for the CBS Morning News. She served as a producer for CBS News Sunday Morning and the CBS News weekend broadcasts in 1987, and then as senior producer and producer of 48 Hours from 1987 to 1996. In 1996, Pitts was named executive producer of "The Class of 2000", a four-year ongoing project of CBS News. During this period, she also served as executive producer of "Before Your Eyes," a series of critically acclaimed CBS News primetime specials. Pitts was then appointed as executive producer of the CBS Evening News weekend broadcasts in 1997, and was promoted to executive producer of CBS’s The Early Show in December 1999. In 2003, she moved from The Early Show to senior broadcast producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.

Pitts left CBS News in 2004 and was hired as executive producer of NBC News’ Today, Weekend Edition in February of 2006. In 2007, Pitts was named vice president of strategic initiatives for NBC News, where she worked until 2009. Then, after briefly serving as head of U.S. operations for Nduka Obaigbena’s Arise News, she was named The Root’s interim managing editor in September of 2013. She took on the permanent role of The Root managing editor in February of 2014. Pitts also serves as chief executive officer of BLP Productions LLC and of Maltese Productions, Inc.

Her honors include several national Emmy Awards and the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. She is married to ABC News chief national correspondent Byron Pitts. Together they have six children.

Lyne Pitts was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 19, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.209

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/19/2014

Last Name

Pitts

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Emma Willard School

Stanford University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Lyne

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

PIT32

State

District of Columbia

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

12/12/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Short Description

Television executive and journalist Lyne Pitts (1954 - ) was managing editor of The Root, served as NBC News’ vice president of strategic initiatives from 2007 to 2009, and worked as a producer at CBS News for over twenty years. Her honors include several Emmy Awards.

Employment

Ravenswood Post

KPIX-TV

KTLA-TV

KCBS-TV

CBS News

NBC News

Arise News

The Root

BLP Productions LLC

Maltese Productions, Inc.

Allison J. Davis

Television and non-profit executive Allison Jeanne Davis was born on April 7, 1953 in New York City, New York to Doris Nelson and Walter Davis. She graduated from Boston University with her B.S. degree in journalism in 1975.

Upon graduation, Davis was hired as a writer and producer for WBZ-TV in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1978, she was hired at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she worked as an on-air reporter. From 1981 to 1998, Davis was employed at NBC, where she served as a writer-producer and as an executive producer for NBC News and MSNBC.com. At NBC, Davis built the original team of “cyberjournalists” overseeing the first original news content on the internet. She also helped launch MSNBC and, from 1994 through 1997, she served as the first executive producer of MSNBC on the Internet. Davis developed, wrote and produced The Scholastic-NBC News Video from 1993 until 1997. She also worked as a writer and producer for NBC News’ Today, as well as a producer for the NBC News broadcasts Monitor, First Camera, and NBC Nightly News.

From 1998 to 2004, Davis served as senior vice president/creative of CBS and Dunbar Productions. At CBS, she created and executive produced the public television series “The Reading Club”. Then, from 2004 until 2009, Davis worked as vice president, chief operating officer, and special assistant to the Jackie Robinson Foundation's chief executive. In 2008, she founded Coopty Productions, which provides organizations with video production services. Davis was then appointed director of communications and media at New York’s Riverside Church in 2009, and, in 2011, she returned to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, where she was hired as director of communications and worked on the promotion for the Jackie Robinson movie 42. Davis has also been an adjunct professor at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, Howard University’s School of Communications and the City College of New York.

Davis was a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, where she served as its first parliamentarian, and later as its vice president. She was also on the founding board of the National Visionary Leadership Project, an oral history project established by Camille Cosby, and serves on the board of Poets & Writers.

Davis has received numerous awards and honors, including two Women in Communications Awards and several Emmy nominations. She also received Boston University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009, has received the University’s Alumni Award for Service to Profession twice, and has been a National News Emmys judge since 2009. Davis also contributed to the 2001 book Global News Perspectives on the Information Age, edited by Tony Silvia.

Davis and her husband, Robert G. Wright, live in Teaneck, N.J. They are the parents of two sons: Tyler and Cooper.

Allison Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 13, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.002

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/13/2014

Last Name

Davis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Jeanne

Schools

Bryant School

Benjamin Franklin Junior High School

White Oak Junior High School

Springbrook High School

Boston University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Allison

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

DAV30

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Success Is Your Best Revenge.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

4/7/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Englewood

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Lobster

Short Description

Television executive and non-profit executive Allison J. Davis (1953 - ) was an executive producer for NBC News and MSNBC, and senior executive of CBS, Dunbar Productions and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. She was one of the founding members of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Employment

WBZ TV

KDKA TV

NBC

CBS

Jackie Robinson Foundation

Coopty Productions

Riverside Church

City University of New York

Howard University

City College of New York

Favorite Color

Royal Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Allison J. Davis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis describes her mother, Doris Nelson

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about tracing her maternal ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes her paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about how her parents met and her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis describes her earliest memories including having tuberculosis

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis describes moving to Teaneck, New Jersey in 1958

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis talks about the busing program in Teaneck, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis shares her school memories

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis talks about her relationship with her brothers

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis shares her holiday memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis describes her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis talks about her Caribbean ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis describes the food she ate while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis describes her personality

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis talks about her father's political activism

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis talks about the telegram that President John F. Kennedy sent to her father

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about moving to an all-white neighborhood in Silver Spring, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis talks about her mother's social life

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis remembers when her father discovered her brother's baseball talent

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about the relationship between her father and President Richard Nixon

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis remembers her family's political discussions and her involvement with the Black Panther Party

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about her father's concerns about the labor movement

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis describes attending Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis talks about her brother's education

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis talks about attending Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis describes how her studies at Boston University prepared her for the working world

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Allison J. Davis describes joining the Black Panther Party at Boston University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about her brief involvement with the Nation of Islam

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis recalls her parent's reaction to her graduating from college early

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis describes working at WBZ-TV in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about her mentor and the lack of African Americans at WBZ

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes her preference for being a news producer

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis tells the story of how she became a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis describes the original members of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis describes Chuck Stone's leadership of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis describes the vision of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis shares her memories of HistoryMaker Vernon Jarrett

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about her husband, Robert Wright, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis talks about her husband, Robert Wright, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing a story on lottery corruption at KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing a story on overweight cops at KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis talks about working at NBC Nightly News from 1981 to 1983

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing the television news program, "Monitor"

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing "Summer Sunday"

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis describes what she learned in her early career as a television news producer

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis describes her schedule while producing "Summer Sunday"

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about becoming a producer for the "Today Show" in 1984

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis describes her schedule as a working mother at the "Today Show"

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis tells the story of the births of her children while working at the "Today Show"

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis remembers producing stories in Africa and Cuba for the "Today Show"

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes the audience's reaction to "Today in Africa"

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about General Electric's takeover of NBC News

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis comments on racial representation in news reporting

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis remembers Bryant Gumbel's interview with Ike Turner

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis describes Bryant Gumbel's personality

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about Bryant Gumbel's leaked memo in 1989

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis talks about Today Show hosts Deborah Norville and Katie Couric

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis talks about producing Scholastic-NBC News Video

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis talks about helping NBC News transition to the digital realm

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes the beginning of cyberjournalism at NBC Supernet

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about backlash from the development team after she was featured on The New York Times business page

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis talks about MSNBC

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis talks about her work with Bryant Gumbel's Dunbar Productions

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis recalls witnessing the events of September 11, 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis describes her husband's health problems

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis talks about her sons

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis describes her frustration with nonprofit work, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis describes her frustration with nonprofit work, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Allison J. Davis describes her nonprofit work

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Allison J. Davis describes working on the movie 42 for the Jackie Robinson Foundation

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Allison J. Davis talks about her desire to continue telling stories

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Allison J. Davis talks about her lack of career regrets

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Allison J. Davis comments on the current state of television news

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Allison J. Davis comments on the success of online journalism

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Allison J. Davis talks about her parents' deaths

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Allison J. Davis describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Allison J. Davis reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Allison J. Davis talks about her pride in her family

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

10$6

DATitle
Allison J. Davis talks about the busing program in Teaneck, New Jersey
Allison J. Davis tells the story of how she became a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)
Transcript
I was also a part of the first sixth grade school because as the, we started to matriculate through elementary school, we discovered that the schools now were becoming a little bit more segregated than--so we segregated, there was a, segregated elementary schools. And we'd all meet up in junior high school. And we didn't know each other. So they decided to bus all the black kids (laughter) to the various white schools in town and then bring all of the sixth graders to one central sixth grade school. And that's been written about, you know, because it was an inter--it was a voluntary busing program that was so very successful back then. And so I was part of that sixth grade.$$So describe it? So the busing, how was the busing?$$The busing, so they took the black kids from my side of town from kindergarten through fifth grade, and they dispersed them to the various elementary schools in town of which, at that time there were seven. And then they took the sixth grade, they took the school which was my home school and made it into a central sixth grade school and bused all the whites to that sixth grade school (laughter). So we all went to the sixth grade together so it eased the, what could have been a tense environment when we all got to middle--seventh grade, junior high school because that's when things can get a little nasty with kids. And so, and everybody's feeling their oats. And so they decided to get us all familiar with each other in sixth grade.$Now, around this time, I also see that--let's see, you joined in 19--you joined WBZ in 19--$$Seventy-five [1975].$$--seventy five [1975]. Now, what about this, what about NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists] and you serving the role as parliamentarian? Is that in 1975?$$It is. So I'm in, we have a small group of media workers in Boston [Massachusetts]. And I'm a part of that, but not, you know, not a big part of that. And it was just fledging. And in December of 1975, December 15th, I guess, I'm in Washington [D.C.] and at home, visiting with my parents. Number one, because I would have to work Christmas in Boston. And you kind of forget that news happens at Christmas, (laughter) on Christmas day and Thanksgiving. I was the low person on the totem pole. So I was gonna be, I was gonna be in Boston in Christmas. So I'm there a week before or ten days before, and a friend of mine, Bonnie Nance (ph.) from Chicago [Illinois], she is in Washington working as a, the PR person for U.S. News and World Report. And she's there with a woman named Jeanie Thornton, and she says that the black elected officials are meeting. And there's a party. Why don't you come into the city? And I said, yeah, what the hay? I'm not doing anything. So I asked to borrow a car, and I get there at about 4:00, you know, 'cause we're all gonna meet for drinks, and then we're gonna go to this black elected officials event, and I don't remember if it was the Shore Room, the Sheridan, it starts with a--so I get there. And both of the ladies are there, Jeanie and Bonnie. And they said, oh, by the way, there's this meeting that they've asked a lot of black journalists to come to. You have a couple, an hour or so? And I said, I don't want to go to a meeting, but, you know, fine. So I get to the conference room where this meeting is held, not knowing anybody but Bonnie and Jeanie. And Chuck Stone [HM] who was at the Philadelphia Bulletin [Philadelphia Daily News] at the time is chairing this meeting. And so I'm sitting there, and I'm somewhat looking like the sullen teenager because I'm all anxious to get to the party. And I'm sitting there and finally, they're voting on things, and they are messing up Robert's Rules of Order. And I said, "Mr. Chairman", and I said, "point of order". Now, Chuck is smart. He knew what "point of order" was, but nobody else knew. And he said, "your point?" And I gave whatever point it was, and he looks at me and he says, "and what's your name?" And I said--"and your affiliation?" I said, "my name is Allison Davis, and I'm at WBZ Television in Boston." And he said, "well, Ms. Davis"--no, I said, "and so and what is this we're doing here?" And he said, "we're starting an organization." And I said, "what's the name of this organization?" And he said, "everybody, what's the name? Are we gonna call ourselves the National Association of Black Journalists?" And everybody said, "yeah, yeah, yeah." And then I said, "okay." And he looks over, he looks over to me, and he goes, "and by the way, Ms. Davis, you are our parliamentarian." And I said, "of what again?" (Laughter) And he said, "the National Association of Black Journalists." And from there, I became the parliamentarian. I wrote the original constitution. And I am now rewriting the constitution for consideration this year.

Douglas Holloway

Television executive Douglas V. Holloway was born in 1954 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in the inner-city Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood. In 1964, Holloway was part of the early busing of black youth into white neighborhoods to integrate Pittsburgh schools. In 1972, he entered Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts as a journalism major. Then, in 1974, Holloway transferred to Emerson College, and graduated from there in 1975 with his B.S. degree in mass communications and television production. In 1978, he received his M.B.A. from Columbia University with an emphasis in marketing and finance.

Holloway was first hired in a marketing position with General Foods (later Kraft Foods). He soon moved into the television and communications world, and joined the financial strategic planning team at CBS in 1980. While there, Holloway became interested in the new field of cable television, and helped to develop the CBS Cable project. From 1982 to 1983, he served as the National Accounts Manager for Time, Inc.’s TV-Cable Week Magazine. He began working at USA Networks in 1983 and developed their affiliate relations program, becoming the president of the department in 1998. When NBC purchased USA Networks in 2004, Holloway was named president of cable investments and managed the joint venture companies of NBC, including AETN, Shop NBC, Peacock Productions, Weather Plus, and National Geographic International. From 2009 to 2011, he served as a corporate advisor to American Express and America One/One World Sports; and, in 2011, he became the president of multichannel distribution at ION Media Networks, Inc.

Holloway received the National Cable Television Association’s Vanguard Award for Marketing in 1997. He has also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, and was named one of Black Enterprise’s Top Ten Most Powerful Blacks in Hollywood in 2007. Holloway was named as one of Crain’s 40 Under 40, and has received both Columbia University’s Alumni Heritage Award and Emerson College’s Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition, he has been a trustee of Emerson College since 2002, is a member of the New York chapter of the Boule, and is a member of the Westchester Clubmen Foundation.

Douglas V. Holloway was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 13, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.322

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/13/2013

Last Name

Holloway

Maker Category
Middle Name

V.

Organizations
Schools

Northeastern University

Emerson College

Columbia University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Douglas

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

HOL17

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Teens, Adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

No, but preferred

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

Know Something, Do Something, Be Something.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/3/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chicken Wings

Short Description

Television executive Douglas Holloway (1954 - ) is the president of Ion Media Networks, Inc. and was an early pioneer of cable television.

Employment

General Foods Corporation

CBS

TV-Cable Week Magazine

USA Networks

NBC

American Express and America One

ION Media Networks, Inc.

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Douglas Holloway's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway describes his mother and maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Douglas Holloway describes his paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Douglas Holloway describes his parents' unusual relationship and how they met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Douglas Holloway remembers being featured on the children's television series, 'Romper Room,' at four years old

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Douglas Holloways describes the racial demographic in his childhood neighborhood on the north side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Douglas Holloway describes living with his mother, grandmother, three uncles, and cousins together in his Pittsburgh home

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Douglas Holloway recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood Pittsburgh neighborhood and holiday seasons

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Douglas Holloway describes building his family's summer home in Cockerton, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Douglas Holloway lists the elementary and high schools he attended

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Douglas Holloway talks briefly about his extended maternal family ancestry

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway describes his experience being bullied and fighting at Belmar Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway explains why his mother elected to have him bused, and describes his experience at Sterrett Classical Academy in Point Breeze, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Douglas Holloway talks about the influence of the Civil Rights Movement in his home life, and describes delivering papers and developing work ethic

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Douglas Holloway remembers the real-life Pittsburgh influences for August Wilson's 1983 play, 'Fences'

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Douglas Holloway talks about numbers runners

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Douglas Holloway talks about the influence of the Presbyterian faith in his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Douglas Holloway describes skiing in Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Douglas Holloway describes the social consequences of busing, and remembers the race riots in Pittsburgh's Homewood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Douglas Holloway describes the gradient of political opinions within his family

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Douglas Holloway talks about his childhood interests in arts and entertainment

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway describes Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and talks about his experience at Taylor Allerdice High School, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway describes Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and talks about his experience at Taylor Allerdice High School, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Douglas Holloway talks about being threatened at gunpoint

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Douglas Holloway talks about his undergraduate experience at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Douglas Holloway talks about racial demographics and discrimination in Boston's college communities, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Douglas Holloway talks about his roommate, the descendant of a black gangster family in Philadelphia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Douglas Holloway talks about his transfer to Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Douglas Holloway and remembers a racially-motivated altercation at Faneuil Hall

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Douglas Holloway describes the racial violence he experienced as a student at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway describes meeting HistoryMaker Peter Bynoe working in the Boston Black Repertory Theatre

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway talks about getting career advice from television executive Eugene Lothery and deciding to enter the television industry

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Douglas Holloway describes being accepted into the MBA program at Columbia University in New York, New York, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Douglas Holloway describes being accepted into the MBA program at Columbia University in New York, New York, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Douglas Holloway describes instructing an FCC licensing course at the Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan's Opportunities Industrialization Center [OIC] in Pittsburgh

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Douglas Holloway describes producing a multimedia bicentennial special on blacks in Pittsburgh in 1976

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Douglas Holloway talks about his independent study in the Riverside Church jazz radio station, and joining General Foods in consumer marketing

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Douglas Holloway describes his experience as a student in the MBA program at Columbia University

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Douglas Holloway describes his tenure at General Foods in brand management

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Douglas Holloway lists other African Americans in General Foods' corporate office

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Douglas Holloway explains why he missed his final sign off interview with the NBC network's Associates' Program due to a snowstorm

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway explains how he got hired into the finance department at CBS and describes his tenure at the network

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway describes the projects he worked on at CBS, and the climate of the broadcasting industry in the early 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Douglas Holloway describes the development of the CBS cable network and his entrance into television programming

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Douglas Holloway describes working in affiliate cable sales for CBS in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Douglas Holloway talks about joining TV Cable Week at Time, Inc., and the introduction of the broadcast and print weekly television guide

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Douglas Holloway explains how the conflict between Time Inc.'s publishing and video companies destroyed TV Cable Week

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Douglas Holloway talks about the launch of the USA network, and joining affiliate relations at USA

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Douglas Holloway lists executives involved in the sale of the USA Network to Paramount and Universal

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway explains how he became vice president of affiliate relations at the USA network

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway talks about the launch of the USA network's competitor TNT, and being dropped from Jones Intercable cable operator

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Douglas Holloway describes the success of "target marketing" and original programming production for the USA network

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Douglas Holloway talks about declining a job with Ted Turner at CNN

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Douglas Holloway describes launching the Sci-Fi Channel in 1992

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Douglas Holloway explains how the Cable Act of 1994 threatened the growth of the SyFy channel

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Douglas Holloway describes how he entertains and charms his clients

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Douglas Holloway talks about African American executives in cable and television from the early 1990s

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway talks about the development of original programming at the USA network, and the sale of USA to Vivendi Universal Entertainment

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway describes the USA Network, Inc. under the leadership of Barry Diller

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Douglas Holloway describes being harassed by new executives after the acquisition of USA by Vivendi Universal Entertainment

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Douglas Holloway talks about the sale of Universal to NBC in 2004 when NBC merged with Vivendi Universal Entertainment

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Douglas Holloway explains why he left NBCUniversal in 2009

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Douglas Holloway explains how he was appointed president of multichannel distribution at ION Media Networks, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Douglas Holloway explains how he was appointed president of multichannel distribution at ION Media Networks, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway talks about competition between contemporary cable channels and systems

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway describes cable channels and systems of the future

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Douglas Holloway talks about his affiliation with the National Association of Minorities in Cable [NAMIC] and the lower earnings of minority executives

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Douglas Holloway talks about screening programming at USA, and representation of African Americans in media and the telecommunications industry

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Douglas Holloway

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Douglas Holloway describes his concerns about bias and discrimination in contemporary America

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Douglas Holloway talks about being denied phantom stock and the discrepancies between the earnings of executives in public vs. private companies

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Douglas Holloway describes USA Network founding president Kay Koplovitz's leadership

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Douglas Holloway describes what he would like his legacy to be and how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Douglas Holloway describes what he would like for his sons to know about him

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Douglas Holloway describes how he would hypothetical title his memoir

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

3$7

DATitle
Douglas Holloway describes the projects he worked on at CBS, and the climate of the broadcasting industry in the early 1980s
Douglas Holloway explains how the Cable Act of 1994 threatened the growth of the SyFy channel
Transcript
Can you talk about the overall broadcasting industry at that time, and what are the issues that they're dealing with, and what were some of the strategic--you know, issues that were presented in terms of strategic planning? Was it growing the market share? Was it, I mean, what was it?$$Well, one, at CBS and at all the broadcast networks, there were very few blacks. There were, maybe, one or two in sales, one or two in finance, nobody that I knew in programming, a couple in news, radio. But it was a very stark, very white business. And this is in 1980, right?$$Yes.$$Okay.$$And so we all kind of knew each other. And we started an organization called Braining to try to promote blacks in the industry and support them. And then at--what was going on strategically was, you know, Ted Turner was getting ready to launch CNN [Cable News Network]. The Madison Square Gardens Sports Network had launched, which later became USA [Network]. ESPN [Entertainment and Sports Programming Network] was in development. MTV [Music Television] was in development. And so there was a lot of concern about, you know, what's going to happen--were these--will these new upstart networks, you know, perform, will they get distribution, cable is not going to go anywhere; there were only a couple million cabled homes at the time, because the big cities hadn't been wired other than New York City [New York]. And most cable was rural and some suburbs, but mainly rural and in places where you had reception problems because of, you know, antenna fade. So there was also the issue of the use of satellites to transmit the signals because at that time, all of the signals from the broadcasters to the local TV stations were done via landline. And they were just beginning to use satellites for backhaul, but they were expensive and they were not that reliable. And then there was the new technology, upgrading the studio facilities. I worked on that. All the plant, the ENG [electronic news gathering] cameras, you know, the wireless cameras and use of microwave was--all those things were in development. And those were all projects that I worked on for CBS.$So when you launched that [Sci-Fi Channel, later SyFy], how much of investment did you make into the--? Do you know the--$$I believe we've paid $15 million for the concept. And we spent, I want to say, probably fifty, sixty million dollars before it turned a profit. And one of the problems, and it almost was shut down, because in, I believe it was 1993, '94 [1994], the government was feuding with cable operators. And that's when the whole process of the 1994 Cable Act was being put into place. And so what the government did was, they put a freeze, because there was so much concern about cable operators raising prices and gouging consumers on pricing and offering poor service, that they put a freeze on launching new cable networks for almost a year or so. And there was a freeze on price increases. And that freeze was right in the infancy of the Sci-Fi Channel. And so we just were dead in the water. We couldn't sell it. They--we couldn't get launched. Very, very little. There were special circumstances where you could, but we couldn't meet our targets for growth. And without the growth, we couldn't generate new and more advertising revenues. And we couldn't put marketing in--dollars in programming and marketing. And the studios who were so cost conscious, were becoming very impatient. And so, they wanted to shut it down. And fortunately, just as they were thinking about shutting it down, the freeze got lifted, and we had substantial growth right after that, which saved the business, and saved probably my career at the time, because I had this (simultaneous)--$$Because you were--you were the one who brought the project.$$Yeah, and then I was the one who was responsible for selling it and then the other thing that was going on was the rebuilding of the cable systems. And so there was a lot of tiering going on. And the (simultaneous)--$$Explain the tiering, 'cause that--$$Well, they created higher packages, higher priced packages that were full smaller services, and there was--they were launching networks, but they were putting them on these smaller packages; and so some of USA's distribution in those days was going into these smaller packages. Well, the movie studios didn't like that. And so, given their aggressiveness, they wanted, you know, USA [Network]'s--more growth, they wanted it faster, and they wanted it more profitable. And so I was kind of at the forefront of that. And it was funny, 'cause I'm on the executive committee of USA at this point, and so I sit in on all the board meetings. And I became the target of all their animosity, anger, and aggression. And since they didn't want me in the job anyway going back, they made an example out of me in those meetings. It was so bad at one point, all my fellow executives from USA, we would go into the board meetings and they would take a seat, and then everybody would move away from me. So they would joke at it and say, "We don't want any more blood splashed on our nice"--'cause in those days, everybody wore Armani suits,"--so it's like, "You know, my cleaning bill on my Armani suits is getting too high, so I'm not going to sit next to you 'cause I keep getting splashed." Because I would go into these meetings, and they would just wear me out, in particular, Tom Wertheimer, who is from Universal [Television]. And he was very, very aggressive, and just a--you know, he came out of the--he worked for Sid Sheinberg, and so that's they were just, you know, aggressive, you know, mean guys. Which is funny 'cause now Tom sees me, he's very nice to me. He's now retired. But they would--it was really--it was an arena.

June Baldwin

Television executive June M. Baldwin graduated from Stanford University with her B.A. degree in psychology. She went on to receive her J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1975.

Following graduation, Baldwin served as clerk for the jurist Luther Swygert on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, Illinois. She then moved to Los Angeles and was hired as an executive for NBC, where she was responsible for, among other things, the day-to-day business transactions for The Tonight Show and Carson Productions, the television and motion picture production company founded by the late talk show host, Johnny Carson. At NBC, Baldwin became one of the first African Americans to enter the executive ranks of the entertainment industry. She then worked for Norman Lear, Quincy Jones and Aaron Spelling, where she held the position of head of business affairs at their independent production companies.

Baldwin went on to be hired as vice president of business affairs at United Paramount Network. She also worked in a similar capacity at Columbia TriStar Television from 2000 until 2001. In 2004, Baldwin was hired as director of business and legal affairs at KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station. Then, in 2010, she was promoted to vice president and general counsel of KCET. Baldwin has negotiated a variety of production deals, and has worked on such critically acclaimed productions as Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, A Place of Our Own, Los Ninos En Su Casa, Wired Science, and SoCal Connected.  In addition, for seven years she managed business and legal affairs for the PBS late-night talk show Tavis Smiley, and the primetime series Tavis Smiley Reports.

Baldwin has served on numerous boards, including the Hollywood Women's Political Committee, the Hollywood Policy Center, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the California Women's Law Center, Planned Parenthood, the Archer School for Girls, Women in Film, Women in Film Foundation, Artists For A New South Africa, The Coalition for At-Risk Youth, NBC Credit Union, the Minority Health Institute, and the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association.

June M. Baldwin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 18, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.310

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/20/2013

Last Name

Baldwin

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Michelle

Schools

St. Madeline Sophie

Ancilla Domini Academy

Shipley School For Girls

Stanford University

Harvard Law School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

June

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

BAL04

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Everything In Its Time

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

10/4/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Vegetables

Short Description

Television executive June Baldwin (1950 - ) became one of the first African Americans to enter the executive ranks of the entertainment industry when she worked for NBC.

Employment

KCET

Columbia Tri Star TV

United Paramount Network

Spelling Television

Quincy Jones/David Salzman Entertainment

NBC

Favorite Color

Blue, Greens

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of June Baldwin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - June Baldwin lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - June Baldwin describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - June Baldwin talks about her mother's education and profession

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - June Baldwin describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - June Baldwin talks about her father's young adult years

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - June Baldwin describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - June Baldwin talks about her parents' civic activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - June Baldwin describes her early household

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - June Baldwin describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - June Baldwin describes the sights and sounds of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - June Baldwin remembers the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - June Baldwin talks about her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - June Baldwin recalls her decision to attend the Shipley School for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - June Baldwin describes her early interest in acting

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - June Baldwin remembers race relations at the Shipley School for Girls

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - June Baldwin describes her religious experiences at the Shipley School for Girls

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - June Baldwin talks about the prominent figures who inspired her

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - June Baldwin recalls developing her racial identity during the late 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - June Baldwin remembers her teachers and guidance counselor at the Shipley School for Girls

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - June Baldwin reflects upon her time at the Shipley School for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - June Baldwin talks about creating a scholarship at the Shipley School for Girls

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - June Baldwin recalls attending the March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - June Baldwin remembers studying psychology at Stanford University in Stanford, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - June Baldwin talks about Eldridge Cleaver and Timothy Leary

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - June Baldwin recalls visiting the Black Panther Party in Algeria

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - June Baldwin talks about the Black Power movement at Stanford University

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - June Baldwin recalls her decision to attend Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - June Baldwin remembers her classmates and experiences at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - June Baldwin remembers her challenges at Harvard Law School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - June Baldwin recalls clerking for Judge Luther M. Swygert

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - June Baldwin talks about her early legal career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - June Baldwin describes her experiences at Morrison and Foerster LLP

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - June Baldwin recalls working for Silverberg, Rosen, Leon and Behr

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - June Baldwin talks about joining Women In Film

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - June Baldwin recalls her entry into the entertainment industry

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - June Baldwin describes her initial experiences at NBC

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - June Baldwin recalls working on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - June Baldwin remembers the black television executives in the 1980s

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - June Baldwin talks about Michael Jackson's award at the NAACP Image Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - June Baldwin recalls her proudest moments as a television business affairs executive

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - June Baldwin remembers working at Norman Lear's company, Act III Productions

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - June Baldwin talks about working for Quincy Jones Productions, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - June Baldwin recalls working with Aaron Spelling Productions

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - June Baldwin remembers her music publishing venture with George Butler

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - June Baldwin recalls working at United Paramount Network

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - June Baldwin describes her work at Columbia TriStar Television

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - June Baldwin describes her position at KCET in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - June Baldwin talks about the merger of KCET and Link TV

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - June Baldwin describes the growth and changes at KCETLink

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - June Baldwin talks about her board memberships, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - June Baldwin talks about her board memberships, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - June Baldwin shares her plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - June Baldwin reflects upon her career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - June Baldwin reflects upon her legacy in the entertainment industry

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - June Baldwin talks about her dating life

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - June Baldwin describes her family

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - June Baldwin talks about her international travels

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - June Baldwin describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - June Baldwin narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

1$6

DATitle
June Baldwin reflects upon her time at the Shipley School for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
June Baldwin recalls visiting the Black Panther Party in Algeria
Transcript
Well, tell us the Shipley [Shipley School for Girls; The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania] story.$$So obviously Shipley was a seminal event in my life. And for all of the, the challenges, I developed some wonderful friendships with a few girls there who are lifelong friends, like sisters. And they saw me; they--it didn't matter to them that I came from a different background or that I was black. And so they were my rocks, and we're still very, very close today. Also in 2003, Shipley gave me the distinguished alumna award, which was a huge shock to me because I had not had much contact at all with the school since I left. And I had an opportunity to tell my story, which I had never done. But I wanted them to know that I loved and appreciated the education that I got and that I saw it as a very positive thing. It was very difficult for my mother [Audrey McLaughlin Harris] to decide to send to me to Shipley. That was not something that we did in the black culture. You don't send your daughter off during her adolescent years to be part of a social experiment. And I'd never really realized how much that had weighed on my mother because, of course, that shaped the rest of my life. So they gave me the award, which was very lovely, and they honored and acknowledged my mother. And the school official said, "I don't think I would have had the courage to send my child away like that." And so I was very happy because although it's been my journey it was also my mother's. So fast forward, I ran into a Shipley classmate at Stanford [Stanford University, Stanford, California] whom I hadn't even been friends with at Stanford. Again, when I left Shipley I sort of didn't wanna have anything to do with Shipley. Fast forward, I run into this classmate, and she's a, a writer for The New York Times and she said, "I ha- it's great to see you. I have an idea and I'm wondering if you'd be interested." And the idea was to create a school sca- a class scholarship for an underprivileged girl of color. And she wondered if I thought that was a good idea, and if I would work with her on it. And I said oh, I think that's a great idea. So last May we went to our forty-fifth reunion, and we proposed this to the class, and that is what we're going to do. And sh- they have said that it was because of knowing me, and it was a time when their lives changed that that inspired her to want to do this scholarship. And so it just was so overwhelming for me to come out of the blue after all these years. Because I think when you make personal sacrifices--I mean I did it willingly and gratefully. I appreciated the opportunity. But at some point when you look at where race relations are today, and you say was it worth it--you know, was it worth it? And so this validates that. It was worth it. I mean, I decided it was worth it, but this is a, a, a really gratifying validation.$Now who was in the Panther [Black Panther Party] entourage, I guess, in Algeria besides Eldridge Cleaver?$$The names of the other people I don't know. I don't remember. What--I was very excited to be there. Eldridge Cleaver was extremely nice to me, very respectful. As I said he wanted to--me to stay on because I spoke French and be a translator. And I think as a result of my Shipley [Shipley School for Girls; The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania] experience and my own sense of identity, I had the big Afro, very much wanting to claim my identity, and wanting to have a quote, unquote revolutionary experience. I was a big supporter of the Panthers. You know, they were doing wonderful work; they were feeding children; they were educating children; they were providing healthcare services. I mean, they were being portrayed as terrorists, but they were doing many wonderful things. And they were just really seeking social justice for a lot of oppression that was going on. And so I wrote my mother [Audrey McLaughlin Harris]. I also was still interested in being the actor, so I had tried out for 'Hair' ['Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical']. There was a--in Marseille [France]. And I was finished with school [Stanford University, Stanford, California], and so I was a quarter ahead of myself because I had gone a year straight through. And I didn't wanna graduate early, so I wanted to stay in Europe for another three months. And I thought I'll try out for this play. Maybe I'll get this role. And then I went to Algeria and was asked to be the translator and it--and at first really wanted to do that. And so I said to him, "Well, you'll have to write my mother." And so he did, and my mother still has the letter in pale blue stationary with the Black Panther insignia that jumps out at you. And he wrote her a very nice letter asking permission for me to stay on for a couple of months and be a translator. And by day three, there used to be--everyone would be upstairs in a room and listening, talking, and the--there were concentric circles and I was in the second circle. And someone got up and went down to do kitchen duty, and I--who was in the first circle--and so I moved up to be in the first circle. And then the person came back, and I wasn't aware the person was going to come back, and so I said, "Oh, I'm sorry I took your seat." And he said, "Oh no, sister, you didn't take my seat; it's the people's seat." And in that moment I realized, hm, everything is communal here, and there weren't--there weren't any women. I wasn't seeing any women. And all of a sudden I realized, hm, I might become communal property (laughter) if I didn't affiliate or associate with someone. And of course that wasn't what I was wanting. You know, I was wanting to have this political experience. And so I decided that I didn't wanna stay, and so I did not. Meanwhile, I would have come--had I gone back--I would have still gone back to France and then come back. In the meantime, my mother got the letter, and she and my brother [William James] were quite horrified. And they admired the Panthers. It's not that they, they didn't, but they didn't want their daughter there in Algeria with--$$Now this is--$$--Eldridge Cleaver.$$I mean 'Soul on Ice' [Eldridge Cleaver] had been published in 1960 [1968]--well, I know I read it in '67 [1967], so it was already out. And he was--he made some remarks about women that weren't really very--$$Misogynistic.$$--encouraging.$$Yes, yes, but that's what I'm saying. That's what was so fascinating, because he was not like that at all with me. He was just this amazing gentleman and intelligent and just lovely, lovely. Now I was only there three days, but that was my experience. And when my mother decided--my brother was, "You tell her to get on a plane and come home." And my mother was like, "No, no, I'm just going to use the truth and, and add something." And so she told me she was going to have to have surgery, and she really would like me to be there for the surgery and so would I mind coming home. I still hadn't heard about the play. And she said, "And if you get in the play, then I'll send you back;" so I went home. And she was having surgery, but it wasn't, you know, as serious as I had thought (laughter), and they just wanted to get me home so. And then I did not get into the play so I did not go back.$$Now did you--did you happen to talk to Timothy Leary?$$No, I did not.$$Or see him even?$$I got a glimpse, but no.$$And was he (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) They, they had him in a room. You know, we were staying at a hotel, and we would come over and be there during the days and the evenings.

Marcellus Alexander, Jr.

Television executive Marcellus Winston Alexander, Jr. was born on October 3, 1951 in Austin, Texas to Juanita Smith and Marcellus Alexander. In 1973, he graduated with his B.S. degree in speech and journalism from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.

In 1982, Alexander was hired as a general sales manager at the then-American Broadcasting Company owned and operated station WRIF-FM in Detroit, Michigan. In 1984, he was promoted to vice president and general manager of WRIF-FM. Then, in 1986, Alexander helped organize an investor group that purchased WRIF from Cap Cities/ABC, while also serving as chief operating officer of Silver Star Communications in Detroit. From 1987 to 1989, he worked as station manager and acting general manager of KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1989 until 1999, Alexander served as vice president and general manager of Baltimore, Maryland’s WJZ-TV, where he expanded the local news, brought back the Baltimore Orioles broadcasts, and through a network affiliation change, sustained WJZ’s market dominance. In 1999, Alexander returned to KYW as vice president and general manager, where he served until 2002. While at KYW, he improved the station's news product, revitalized sales and strengthened its ties to the community.

In 2002, Alexander was named executive vice president of television for the National Association of Broadcasters. His responsibilities included growing TV's membership, as well as overseeing the Futures Summit, Small Market Exchange, account executive webcasts and key events and sessions at the NAB Show. In 2004, Alexander was named president of the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF).

Alexander has served on the boards of numerous organizations, including the Baltimore Urban League, the Advertising Association of Baltimore, the Kennedy Institute, and the Advertising and Professional Club. He has been a member of the National Association of Black Journalists since 1987. Alexander has also received many awards and honors for his work. In 1991, he received both the Distinguished Black Marylander Award from Towson State University, and the Humanitarian Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Association. In 1994, his alma mater presented him with its Distinguished Alumni Award; and, in 1995, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Western Maryland College.

Marcellus Alexander was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 2, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.338

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/2/2013

Last Name

Alexander

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Winston

Schools

Texas State University

Del Valle High School

Lamar Elementary School

Pilot Knob School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Marcellus

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

ALE03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Near Water

Favorite Quote

Eat An Elephant One Bite At A Time.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

10/3/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue

Short Description

Television executive Marcellus Alexander, Jr. (1951 - ) has worked in television and radio for over thirty years. He serves as executive vice president of television for the National Association of Broadcasters and as president of the NAB Education Foundation.

Employment

National Association of Broadcasters

KYW TV/CBS

WJZ TV

WRIF Radio

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marcellus Alexander's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander describes how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his mother's family's migration to Austin, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander describes his father's childhood, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander describes his father's childhood, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander considers which parent's disposition he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander lists his siblings and their birth order

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Marcellus Alexander describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Alexander Marcellus describes his responsibilities on the family farm in Creedmoor, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Marcellus Alexander describes his elementary school experience in Creedmoor, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander describes the origin of Pilot Knob School's name

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Del Valle, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander describes his desire to be a U.S. Navy pilot as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his strengths in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his extracurricular activities as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about deciding to go to college

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander describes his childhood talents

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander describes television and radio in the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander talks about integrating Del Valle Junior High School in 1963

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander recalls two influential grade school teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander remembers an incidence of racial violence in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his senior year at Del Valle High School in Del Valle, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander describes his high school graduation night

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his religious upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - Marcellus Alexander describes his focus on academics at Del Valle High School in Del Valle, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the history of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander describes forming Umoja, a student organization at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander talks about forming a black student choir at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander describes President Lyndon Johnson's legacy at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander describes establishing a chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about student body diversity at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander describes his leadership roles at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander remembers his influential history professor Dr. Poole

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander describes his decision to major in communications

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his academic focus in college, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander talks about writing for the school paper and yearbook

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his academic focus in college, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander considers what he would have done differently in college

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Marcellus Alexander describes working with the American Heart Association

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the beginning of his broadcast radio career, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 16 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the beginning of his broadcast radio career, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 17 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his work ethic at WRIF radio in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander explains his sales technique at WRIF radio in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander recalls a memorable lunch with radio sales manager Ernie Fears

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander describes working as the general sales manager at WRIF radio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his promotion to vice president of WRIF radio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander talks about firing employees

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander describes changes in the radio business between 1980 and 1985

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander describes the culture of Detroit, Michigan in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander describes becoming CEO and part owner of WRIF radio

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander describes his experience working for Group W Television

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about 'The Mike Douglas Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander explains the Group W Television market

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander explains differences between radio and television station managing

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the introduction of cable in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the rivalry between local television and cable

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander talks about major league baseball broadcasting on WJZ-TV

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander describes assembling WJZ-TV's news helicopter, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander describes assembling WJZ-TV's news helicopter, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander describes his management style

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander talks about adopting Northern High School in Baltimore, Maryland, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander describes adopting Northern High School in Baltimore, Maryland, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander describes WJZ-TV's network transition from ABC to CBS, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the impact of the FOX television network

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander describes WJZ-TV's network transition from ABC to CBS, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his colleagues at the WJZ news station

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander explains how television and radio ratings are measured

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander explains the significance of television ratings

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the longevity of local radio programming

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander talks about returning to KYW-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marcellus describes joining the National Association of Broadcasters as Vice President of Television, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander joining the National Association of Broadcasters as Vice President of Television, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about existing issues in broadcast radio and television

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the National Association of Broadcasters' membership and employees

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander describes his responsibilities as the vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation for underrepresented people in media

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander explains the transition from analog television to digital television in 2009, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Marcellus Alexander explains the transition from analog television to digital television in 2009, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the potential in digital television programming for minorities

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the retransmission consent process in television

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his ongoing enthusiasm for the television industry

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Marcellus Alexander talks about the internet's impact on television

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Marcellus Alexander reflects upon his professional legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Marcellus Alexander considers what he would have done differently in his career

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Marcellus Alexander shares his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Marcellus Alexander talks about his children

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Marcellus Alexander talks about building his parents' home with his siblings

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Marcellus Alexander thanks his family for helping to map out his family ancestry

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Marcellus Alexander describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Marcellus Alexander narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

15$6

DATitle
Marcellus Alexander talks about the beginning of his broadcast radio career, pt. 1
Marcellus Alexander talks about existing issues in broadcast radio and television
Transcript
Now, at this point in time, were you thinking about sales at all?$$I was thinking about sales, but I've always felt and one of my philosophies has been, do the best you can with the job that you have and other opportunities will open up. So with this job that I just described, I go now to Michigan to the annual meeting of the Michigan Heart Association. Its chapter is probably about 200 people in the audience, and I'm in front of the room explaining what our public relations plan is from the National Center. In the audience, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the HR [human resources] manager for the ABC group of stations in Detroit [Michigan]. There was a television station that was owned by ABC Radio, AM and FM radio stations that were owned by ABC.$$Okay, now, is this WXYZ?$$WXYZ Television, WXYZ AM and WRIF Radio. After my presentation, the HR manager came up to me, and she said, I really enjoyed your presentation. And I have a couple of job opportunities I'd like to talk with you about. And so just some context, I'm based in Dallas [Texas], home of the then American's team, close to home in terms of Austin [Texas], and Detroit was cold and snowy and cold and more cold. In fact, the joke there was there're three seasons in Detroit, June, July and Winter. And it wasn't far off from that as I found out. But I had, with all those thoughts going on, I had the primary tape that was playing in my head from my mother who would say to me on numerous occasions, "Before you pass on an opportunity, at least check it out." So, long story short, the jobs that she had, there was one that was of appeal. It was a sales position, a sales trainee position, and I was, I felt like if you train me, I can do pretty much anything. If you invest the time and energy to train me, I can do anything. And so decided to move to Detroit, and take the sales trainee job at a WRIF Radio, which is a rock station, and that was the beginning of my broadcast career.$What are the major issues today?$$There're several. The keys ones on the television side are maintaining the retransmission consent structure, which is a structure that allows television stations and networks to be compensated by cable and pay TV services for carrying the programs that they do. And that's an extremely important revenue stream when it comes to local stations and networks being able to provide what viewers want. Cable has two revenue streams already. They have advertising revenue and they have subscription revenue. So they're able to in some cases, outbid broadcasters for, let's say the BCS [Bowl Championship Series] Championship Bowl or some sports programming. So to be able to provide that, those types of high-profile programs, we have to protect that retransmission consent structure.$$The retransmission consent structure would make it harder for cable operators to take that kind of programming away from--(unclear) (simultaneous)--$$Well, no, they have to--the way that it works is, at these negotiations, both parties, cable and broadcast, come to the table with something to lose. If you're on the broadcast side, you wanna make sure that your station, your network continues to be carried by the pay-TV providers because that's what you need to make your business model work. You have to have viewers. And you want as many of them as you can get. If you're on the cable side of it, you certainly need the good programming that broadcasters are investing in producing. And whether that's the NFL, the Super Bowl, the Oscars or local news, the cable system wants those channels, wants that programming for its customers because they know if they don't have it, then their customers are gonna go to another pay service to get that. They, they just have--(simultaneous)--$$Yeah, also shows like American Idol, I guess or Homicide and stuff--(simultaneous)--$$Exactly.$$--like that--(simultaneous)--$$Exactly.$$--that's produced by the networks.$$Correct. So both parties come to the table with something to lose, and in 99 percent of the time, there is an agreement reached without any viewer disruption. Of late, there's been an effort for, from the cable side, the pay-TV side, to create problems that then they want to go to congress and help to get a fix. And we've--obviously, are gonna fight that. So, but that's one of the key issues on the television side. We also, on the television side have, are looking at a next generation broadcast platform, a new standard from which we would broadcast television and all that goes into that. There's a lot of conversation around that that has to be discussed and sorted through. On the radio side, the big issue is the Performance Rights Act. This is, formerly, it's also called the Performance Tax. This is, radio stations--or actually, it's record labels wanting to have radio stations pay them when they play records. And that's not a business model that makes sense for radio. It's one that the marketplace is working at in a number of different ways, but those would be the top three issues right now for radio and television in our--in our business.

Paula Madison

Television executive and journalist Paula Williams Madison was born in Harlem, New York in 1952 to Elrick Williams and Nell Lowe Williams. She attended Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx. Initially, Madison wanted to become an educator and spent her summers teaching inner-city youth about African American history. After high school, she received a scholarship to Vassar College and graduated with her B.A. degree in 1974.

Madison then moved to Syracuse, New York, where she became a graduate student at Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications and was hired as a reporter at the Syracuse Herald Journal. Her early career was spent as a newspaper reporter in New York and Texas, and as a television news manager and executive in Dallas, Tulsa, and Houston. Madison then returned to New York City as assistant news director at NBC4, and became the station’s vice president and news director in March of 1996. Shortly after, she took on a second role as senior vice president of diversity for NBC. In 2000, Madison was promoted to president and general manager of KNBC, making her the first African American woman to become a general manager of a top news network. She then stepped down from the diversity leadership role. When NBC purchased Telemundo, a Spanish-language network, Madison assumed responsibility for the newly acquired Telemundo stations in Los Angeles, California. In 2007, Madison was appointed executive vice president and chief diversity officer of NBC Universal. The parent company, GE, named her a company officer and vice president.

Madison has served in many organizations during her career. In addition to being named chairman and CEO of the Los Angeles Sparks, she also became a member of the WNBA Board of Governors. Madison is a board member of Greater Los Angeles United Way, a past chairman of the California Science Center Foundation, vice chair of National Medical Fellowships and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, and chair of The Nell Williams Family Foundation. In 2013, Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed her a commissioner of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Madison has received many awards, including the Ida B. Wells award from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) in 1998, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations in 1999, and the First Amendment Service Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation in 2000. In 2005, Madison was named one of the “75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise magazine and was included in the Hollywood Reporter’s “Power 100.” In 2010, she received the NABJ Legacy Award, was named to Ebony magazine’s 2013 Power 100 List, and received the Pinnacle Award from the Houston Association of Black Journalists.

Madison and her husband, Roosevelt Madison, live in Los Angeles, California.

Paula Williams Madison was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 19, 2013 and July 21, 2017.

Accession Number

A2013.327

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/19/2013 |and| 07/21/2017

Last Name

Madison

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Vassar College

Cardinal Spellman High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Paula

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

MAD05

Favorite Season

Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

China, Africa

Favorite Quote

Mules work hard, race horses work smartly

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

8/24/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

French Fries

Short Description

Television executive and journalist Paula Madison (1952 - ) was named vice president and news director of WNBC in 1996 and named president and general manager of KNBC in 2000, making her the first African American woman to become a general manager of a network-owned station in a Top 5 market. Madison also serves as partner in Williams Group Holdings LLC, and as chairman and CEO of the Los Angeles Sparks.

Employment

Los Angeles Sparks

Williams Capital Group, LLC

NBC

KNBC

Favorite Color

White

Timing Pairs
0,0:3212,63:25065,386:40950,564:44058,614:44946,633:67063,883:86350,1139:88235,1193:99106,1301:117735,1538:118035,1543:120810,1615:138603,1819:139404,1830:168992,2160:172334,2207:177840,2301:178080,2306:180120,2348:194966,2590:195574,2601:198951,2639:200274,2658:201345,2692:218650,2979:219040,2987:233966,3191:248979,3412:252420,3421:254890,3450:255560,3463:275460,3705$0,0:4937,74:6009,100:6277,105:7751,137:9426,177:10297,193:10766,201:11771,223:12240,231:12977,242:13312,248:13647,255:15389,297:15657,302:15992,309:22768,408:27412,465:28744,494:29262,502:31334,593:34620,616:35103,624:35655,634:38622,677:40347,733:40899,742:41175,750:41451,755:43866,782:53112,919:54400,939:54768,944:55872,970:56332,992:66394,1113:66828,1121:70176,1199:70486,1205:73710,1296:78806,1361:79202,1368:79862,1379:82898,1450:84350,1503:84944,1513:85340,1525:93580,1591:94060,1609:94480,1617:95200,1630:97240,1688:97600,1695:99940,1770:100180,1775:100900,1794:101260,1801:101560,1807:102220,1819:102460,1824:102700,1829:103420,1843:104380,1915:106480,1928:106900,1936:111760,1943:115024,1985:115339,1991:117040,2031:120168,2059:120588,2065:121428,2080:121932,2087:122268,2092:125460,2163:137520,2237:138094,2246:139242,2267:140308,2280:141128,2295:141866,2309:157720,2380:158080,2387:158320,2392:158560,2397:159280,2414:159760,2424:167482,2513:185570,2638:191250,2672:195266,2699:195514,2704:195762,2709:196134,2717:199130,2736:199770,2747:202600,2759:202996,2766:205768,2823:210844,2937:217672,3006:223258,3086:223734,3094:224346,3104:224618,3109:229854,3180:230538,3190:232438,3213:242906,3305:243518,3315:243858,3321:247249,3338:247979,3349:253761,3395:254673,3414:255243,3426:258282,3454:261368,3479:270492,3560:280150,3634:281385,3661:282165,3675:283335,3703:283725,3710:283985,3715:287690,3786:288470,3809:300204,3876:300432,3881:300888,3891:301401,3903:301914,3915:302142,3920:302940,3940:306580,3974:307049,3985:307317,3990:310130,4022:310526,4030:311978,4059:312242,4064:312506,4069:313034,4079:314222,4114:315806,4151:316994,4178:317522,4187:317786,4192:318050,4198:318314,4203:318644,4209:319172,4218:320822,4252:321218,4259:334685,4345:335010,4351:335270,4356:335725,4365:336180,4374:336635,4386:336895,4391:337480,4402:337740,4407:338000,4412:339625,4447:339885,4452:340470,4463:341315,4480:343360,4485
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paula Madison's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paula Madison lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paula Madison describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paula Madison discusses her mother's Chinese ancestry and her search for her Chinese relatives, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paula Madison talks about her search for her Chinese relatives, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paula Madison describes the culture of her Chinese ancestors

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paula Madison describes her Chinese heritage

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paula Madison talks about visiting the museum in her ancestral Chinese village and her family's educational philosophy

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paula Madison talks about well known individuals of Chinese descent

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Paula Madison describes class hierarchy and race mixing in twentieth century Jamaica

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paula Madison talks about how the marriage of Michael Manley, former Jamaican prime minister, influenced her pride in her race

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paula Madison describes the origins of Jamaica's Maroon culture, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paula Madison describes the origins of Jamaica's Maroon culture, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paula Madison compares Rastafarian religion and Maroon culture

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paula Madison discusses her mother's upbringing and immigration to the United States in the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paula Madison talks about her paternal grandfather's occupation

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paula Madison discusses her father's background, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Paula Madison discusses her father's background, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paula Madison talks about her father's occupation and his influence on her

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paula Madison talks about her father's relationship with his stepmother

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paula Madison describes how Jamaican culture influenced her to build wealth

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paula Madison describes how her parents met in Jamaica

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paula Madison talks about her parents' marriage and separation

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Pala Madison describes growing up with parents who were separated

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paula Madison talks about her parents' personalities and her childhood memories

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Paula Madison talks about her father

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paula Madison remembers the year she traveled to Jamaica with her father

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paula Madison talks about visiting Jamaica with her father

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paula Madison recalls challenging her father's colonialist mentality, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paula Madison recalls challenging her father's colonialist mentality, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paula Madison describes early childhood memories

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paula Madison describes how her daughter influenced her natural hairstyle

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paula Madison shares a few details about her brother Elrick Mortimer Williams, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Paula Madison talks about her brother Howard Courtney Williams

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Paula Madison discusses her schooling and learning to read at an early age

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paula Madison talks about her mother's protective nature

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paula Madison describes what type of student she was in grammar school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paula Madison discusses how school shaped her leadership abilities

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paula Madison remembers the assassination of Malcom X

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paula Madison talks about high school in detail

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paula Madison discusses how her background shaped her views toward school

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Paula Madison describes experiences with class and race issues pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Paula Madison Paula Madison describes experiences with class and race issues, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Paula Madison discusses how her mother's love of news media shaped her career path

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

6$8

DATitle
Paula Madison describes how her daughter influenced her natural hairstyle
Paula Madison describes experiences with class and race issues pt. 1
Transcript
But there was, I know, there was a movement in New York in the late '50s [1950s] they had the grand (unclear) models and other things in Harlem [New York City]. I mean, other groups of--some of the I think largely West Indians and Africans--(simultaneous) (unclear).$$They'd wear their hair natural but they didn't--what we today--I find it so, it's a political word, it's politically charged. I said to a young woman a few weeks ago--I talked about my fro, my afro and she said no it's a natural and I said no it's not. I said it is not. Maybe for you it's a natural; for me it's an afro and I'm not going to start flipping the word to something else that is, what? More palatable? My hair is in the fashion of an afro and that's how it will be until forever. But that's not how it always was. And my mother didn't know what to do with my hair and as I said hair for me was always like--it wasn't the--boy, I wished I had my mother's [Nell Williams] hair which draped down her back. I came at it from a different way. Like why won't you even learn how to do my hair? So eventually she did when it was long enough for her to be able to manipulate. But when my daughter [Imani] was born my daughter had short hair. And one day, she was about three or four years old, my daughter was--I had just washed my hair and I had twisted it and then I just let it drape down and my daughter was patting my hair and my mother was living with us at the time and my daughter was patting my hair. And she--mommy when is my hair going to be like yours? And I said your hair is like mine. No it's not, I want my hair like yours and I said your hair is like mine. No it's not; I said it is I promise you it is and then the next day I went out cut it all off and I had short hair.$$Cut yours?$$I cut my hair off and I had short hair that in absent being washed and conditioned and twisted which helped it stay straight. My hair texture was similar to my daughter's and when she saw my hair she was beaming, she was beaming which is an experience that I never had with my mother and my hair and her hair. When my mother was there, my mother looked at me and she said what have you done? Now this was not the first time I cut all my hair off, I did it when I was seventeen and got a fro; but my hair at that point had been kept so straight naturally that I had to put vinegar in it to--that's what they used to do back then. They'd put vinegar in it which actually kind of destroys and splits the ends and all but it got bushy. My mother was appalled, mortified, so mad at me when I did it when I was sixteen. When I did it again when my daughter was about four that would have made me like twenty six. She thought I had lost my mind, told me I looked like a pick-ninny, which is the Jamaican pronunciation for pickaninny, and that's when my mother and I had a really tough conversation. I don't know if it was a conversation. It was probably one sided with me saying to her that my daughter was not going to grow up with you making comments about her hair the way you made comments about mine. My daughter hair is beautiful and she's going to believe her hair is beautiful. My mother just kissed her teeth and walked away. And today my daughter completely shaves her head; she started shaving her head when she was in college. We--my husband and I encouraged her to do it; she continued through medical school. When I suggested to her that when you are working with cadavers and you have to--that smell might stay but I wanted my daughter to shave her head. She's got a beautiful head and a stunning long neck. So she's probably been shaving her head now for I don't know, fifteen years maybe.$But there was a period, I believe it was 1966 or '67 [1967] when the then mayor of New York [City], John Lindsay in order to balance the budget decided that he was going to cut library, public library hours. So instead of library being open seven days a week, I think it went to maybe five and a half days a week. And I used to live in the library. I mean I lived in the library. In order to keep myself interested and I--let's say I was a little more advanced than the kids who were in my grammar school [St. Rosa of Lima Roman Catholic School], I spent forever in the library. So I was crushed, you know that library hours are truncated. By this time we lived on 110th Street [New York City, New York], we'd moved from-in my freshman year in high school we moved from 164th Street, Amsterdam Avenue between 163rd and 164th. We moved to 110th Street between Manhattan and Columbus, and it was a whole different library and it just felt weird. So I didn't spend that much time in the library anymore. But we were having a current events class, history, Sister William Mary and on a particular day it was history class but same day every week it would be current events days. So you had to bring stuff out of the newspaper. Things we were going to discuss and one kid brought--one girl brought this business with the library hours and it started this entire discussion around how unfair it was that the library hours were cut and the mayor could have cut something else and he should have cut something else and it went on and on and on and of course, okay. And then the topic of people who are on welfare came up, you know and those people on welfare he should have cut those people from welfare. The people on welfare we all know the people have cars, you know they have--they're taking money from us and they have Cadillacs and they blah, blah, blah. And it just went on and on and on. And now I'm just kind of sitting there, listening. Usually I am a participant in class discussions but I really just wanted to listen to this. So in that class that had maybe twenty five students, all girls there might have been three or four of us who were Black, maybe one Latina. The difficulty in engaging in that conversation would be that you know it was welfare code word for Black people. So I just listened and when it was all over and the bordering on disgusting things that were being said about people on welfare, I let it all happen and then I raised my hand. Yes Paula, Sister I just have a question, does anybody in here know anyone on welfare? No, it's like recoiling, us no. Sister, yes, I'm on welfare. And I just let it hang in the air and I said so I want to tell you what it's like at least for me and I went on to explain how social worker would show up, case worker would show up. Pick a time; I want to see if my mother's got a man in her apartment, looking for men's clothes, men's toiletries, men's something, evidence of a man; no man. I told them how, yeah I go to midnight mass at Christmas that's right after we've gone to get the bedraggled, scrawny Christmas tree because we can't afford to buy one. That's how I grew up not buying a Christmas tree. Now the sobbing starts, now oh my God I--but we didn't know and it just--now it's like--and I said there is something about Christianity and charitable people that I think is missing here. And I'm looking at the nun because I'm thinking why didn't you say something? But it was a piling on. By the time current events was over, they're sobbing (unclear); it's like, you know what side eye. Sister William Mary asked me to stay after class for a moment and she asked me if I would be willing--would you please come back this afternoon for my class this afternoon, we'll discuss this in current events and I'd like for you to tell them your story. Sister God didn't put me on this planet to teach white people what it's like to be poor and Black, I said you didn't stop any portion of that conversation and you want me to come to your class this afternoon to help your students, right? She didn't say anything; I said who is going to take my biology class for me when I'm here teaching your kids, your white students about my life. I said no I'm not coming back, no and I'm not here as an experiment for you. Turned around and walked out. I won't even begin to tell you that all of high school was like that because it wasn't but oh boy there were instances, there absolutely were.

Winifred Neisser

Television executive Winifred White Neisser received her B.A. degree with honors from Harvard University’s Radcliffe College in 1974. She received her M.A. degree in Elementary Education from Lesley College. Neisser also completed further graduate work in Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Upon graduation, Neisser was hired at NBC where she headed several major divisions. While there, she served as Vice President of Family Programming, Director of Movies for Television and Vice President of Television Movies, NBC Productions. As vice president of family programming at NBC, Neisser oversaw special programming for children and families, including the award-winning miniseries titled, “Jim Henson’s The Storyteller.” Neisser then joined Sony Pictures Television where she served as Senior Vice President of Movies for Television and Miniseries.

Neisser has served on the board of directors for several academic and non-profit institutes. At Harvard University, Neisser was appointed to the Harvard Board of Overseers as well as the Radcliffe Institute’s Advisory Board. She served as Trustee on the board of the Otis College of Design and The Center for Early Education. Neisser was a member of the Television Academy’s Board of Governors for several years. She also served on the boards of Planned Parenthood and the National Guild of Community Arts Schools.

Neisser’s award-winning projects include “A Raisin in the Sun” for ABC, which was nominated for three Emmy Awards and won the Humanitas Award; “Broken Trail,” a western for AMC, which won four Emmy Awards including “Best Miniseries”; “The Company,” a miniseries about the CIA which won the DGA Award and the WGA Award; “Having Our Stay: The Delaney Sisters First 100 Years,” which won a Christopher Award and a Peabody Award; “The Crossing” for the Arts and Entertainment Channel (A & E), which won the Peabody award; “The Beach Boys: An American Family,” which was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Best Miniseries; and “Call me Claus,” a Christmas movie which starred Whoopi Goldberg and featured music by Garth Brooks.

Neisser is married to Ken Neisser. They live in Los Angeles and have two children, Nick and Alexis.

Winifred White Neisser was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 17, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.299

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/17/2013

Last Name

Neisser

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

White

Schools

Radcliffe College

Homestead High School

Emanuel L. Philipp Elementary

Lesley University

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Winifred

Birth City, State, Country

Indianapolis

HM ID

NEI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Indiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere

Favorite Quote

Use Common Sense

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

3/23/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Television executive Winifred Neisser (1953 - ) served as Vice President of Movies and Miniseries and Vice President of Family Programming for NBC Productions, and went on to become Senior Vice President of Movies for Television and Miniseries for Sony Pictures Television.

Employment

Sony Pictures Television (Columbia Tri-Star Television)

NBC

WMTV

Caribbean School

Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:917,19:1883,36:2297,43:2573,48:4367,89:4781,96:7541,151:8024,159:8300,164:10094,213:10370,218:12371,265:12923,276:13544,287:13958,294:14234,299:23438,523:27728,601:28118,607:28586,614:28898,619:33265,648:33589,653:34237,663:36436,677:36692,682:37268,693:38548,719:38804,724:40084,759:40404,765:40852,773:45210,799:48060,823:54777,933:55274,947:55771,955:56055,960:56481,967:59420,984:59680,989:61045,1020:64598,1050:65426,1063:65978,1070:66438,1075:67082,1083:70220,1097:70640,1105:71200,1114:71550,1120:72040,1129:72740,1143:73160,1150:81370,1294:81860,1303:83050,1323:83470,1334:86410,1380:87110,1392:92596,1445:93336,1458:97332,1557:101480,1576:102168,1585:103028,1599:103544,1606:108105,1673:108690,1684:109080,1691:113890,1811:114290,1817:115570,1837:115890,1842:116370,1849:116770,1855:117330,1864:118290,1878:118610,1883:125286,1938:125814,1945:126342,1953:126870,1960:130040,1980:130859,1991:131314,1997:132406,2013:133316,2025:133953,2034:139260,2098:139680,2105:139960,2110:143413,2152:144016,2164:144284,2169:144552,2174:145490,2192:146093,2203:146495,2210:147098,2226:153360,2311:153664,2316:155184,2357:155716,2367:156324,2377:157312,2393:160580,2467:163696,2540:164380,2553:164760,2559:165064,2564:169030,2572:172326,2613:172947,2625:174258,2658:174948,2672:175500,2689:176121,2702:176397,2707:177363,2724:177639,2729:177984,2736:178536,2746:179847,2769:186390,2802:190170,2876:192340,2930:192760,2937:194790,2978:196470,3015:202740,3076:203805,3096:205050,3102:207578,3154:207894,3159:208921,3182:209395,3189:209869,3196:212655,3210:213537,3227:214167,3243:214734,3254:218351,3282:219429,3301:219968,3310:220276,3315:221200,3335:222710,3346$50,0:3040,52:7710,110:8030,116:9246,136:9630,143:9886,152:10910,175:11166,180:14494,256:15006,266:16094,305:18590,379:18846,384:19102,389:19550,398:19870,404:40165,639:51180,767:52797,793:53721,808:54260,818:54876,827:70040,998:75186,1101:76146,1122:78066,1187:79282,1212:79666,1219:79986,1225:80306,1231:85580,1290:92555,1403:95516,1473:98414,1550:99044,1562:101312,1618:101690,1628:101942,1633:106978,1682:107362,1692:111954,1749:112459,1755:114570,1761:115545,1790:116070,1798:116745,1812:117195,1820:131566,2031:132986,2057:148591,2301:148867,2306:149212,2312:151006,2342:151903,2358:152593,2371:160903,2510:164382,2615:173952,2724:175176,2747:177984,2811:181584,2895:182376,2913:182808,2920:185550,2928
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Winifred Neisser's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser describes her maternal grandfather's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser describes her maternal grandparents' move to Indianapolis, Indiana

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser talks about her maternal family's emphasis on education

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Winifred Neisser recalls her parents' decision to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser describes her mother's community involvement

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser remembers Emanuel L. Philipp Elementary School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin].

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser recalls moving to Mequon, Wisconsin, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser recalls moving to Mequon, Wisconsin, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser describes her experiences at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser describes her academic and extracurricular involvement in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser describes her early exposure to black media

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser talks about her early experiences of religion, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser talks about her early experiences of religion, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser remembers her college applications

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser recalls her start at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser recalls her start at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser describes her experiences at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser describes her extracurricular activities at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser remembers hearing Reverend Jesse L. Jackson and Alice Walker speak at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser talks about the black student movement at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser remembers the influential figures at Harvard University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser recalls her graduation from Radcliffe College

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser remembers teaching at the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser remembers teaching at the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser remembers moving to Puerto Rico, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Winifred Neisser remembers moving to Puerto Rico, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Winifred Neisser talks about her transition to the broadcast industry

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser recalls her work at WMTV-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser recalls her work at WMTV-TV in Madison, Wisconsin, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser remembers moving to Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser recalls working with Phyllis Tucker Vinson Jackson

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser describes her work as NBC's vice president of family programming

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser talks about her collaboration with Jim Henson

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser recalls her transition to the television movie division of NBC

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser describes her role in the Danielle Steel movie franchise

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser describes the changes in the television industry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser talks about the regulations on broadcast networks

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser remembers joining Columbia TriStar Pictures

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser describes her career at Sony Pictures Entertainment, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser describes her career at Sony Pictures Entertainment, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser remembers producing 'Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser recalls producing 'Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser remembers producing 'Broken Trail'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Winifred Neisser talks about the importance of stories that resist racial stereotypes

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Winifred Neisser describes her current projects

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Winifred Neisser talks about Amy Biehl, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser talks about Amy Biehl, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Winifred Neisser describes what she may do in the future

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Winifred Neisser talks about African Americans in broadcast media

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Winifred Neisser describes a story that she likes

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Winifred Neisser describes her advice to aspiring broadcasters

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Winifred Neisser reflects upon her life

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Winifred Neisser reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Winifred Neisser describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Winifred Neisser talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Winifred Neisser talks about balancing life and work

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Winifred Neisser describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Winifred Neisser narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

7$3

DATitle
Winifred Neisser recalls moving to Mequon, Wisconsin, pt. 2
Winifred Neisser remembers joining Columbia TriStar Pictures
Transcript
Yeah, so here we were, so we were moving into foreign territory. Now, you know, I was twelve years old and I didn't wanna move anyway 'cause all my friends were back in Milwaukee [Wisconsin]; I had gone to the same school from kindergarten through eighth grade; most of my friends in school were going off the Rufus King [Rufus King High School; Rufus King International High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin], so I was like, if they can do it why can't I? And my parents [Winifred Parker White and Walter White, Sr.] said well, you're not old enough. You're not old enough to understand why we--why we're making this move, and we promise that we will bring you back to visit your friends in Milwaukee. Now the drive from Milwaukee to Mequon [Wisconsin] is about fifteen minutes, but to me it was like moving to the moon because it was so different. And, and, and I didn't wanna do it, and I didn't even know what my parents were going through because they really kept it--kept it very quiet from, from us. The, the first real inkling that I got that we were moving into hostile territory was when we actually moved into the house, and my mother said to us, "Don't answer the phone," (laughter). And (unclear), "What are you talking about don't answer the phone?" She said, "I'm--until I tell you differently, do not answer the telephone." So--and it was because they were getting all kinds of threatening phone calls from people. So we moved in the middle of the school year--or not in the middle but towards the end of the school year. We mu--we must have moved in March or April, and my mother drove us into Milwaukee everyday so we could continue--so we could finish our school years at Philipps School [Emanuel L. Philipp Elementary School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin]. And, and, and the only reason I bring this up is because, even though there were the neighbors who were hostile and, and nasty, one day towards the end of the school year my mother locked her car keys inside the house just as she was supposed to come and pick us up. And so she, she didn't know what to do in the days before cell phones and all of that. So she went--she went to our next door neighbor, who was actually a Jewish doctor, who was actually very nice, Dr. Finkelstein [ph.]. He wasn't home. So then she went to the next house, and she knocked on the door. And this is a woman she actually didn't know very well, and her name was Mrs. Kenop [ph.]. And she explained her situation to Mrs. Kenop, and Mrs. Kenop said--she--and my--and my mother said, if you could just call my husband and tell him that he needs to go pick up the children, or if you would let me come in and I would, you know, call him. I just need somebody to know that I can't get there. And Mrs. Kenop said, "Take my car," and gave my mother the keys to her car. So I re- I have--I just have this very vivid memory of standing there waiting for my mother and my mother driving up and going, "Where did you get this car?" It wasn't a particularly nice car, but it was--it was not her car. And that was--and that was one of the first signs to the family that things were gonna be okay, that there were--there were really decent people in the neighborhood who were, you know, willing to help us out. And, and, and things did sort of start to turn around a little bit after that.$Your career at NBC basically ends in '95 [1995], is that--?$$ Yeah, basically NBC Productions went through a major restructuring. The people that had hired me and put me in that position were replaced, and they didn't fire me. They actually said, "What would you like to," you know, "would you like to stay on or would you like to leave?" But I realized I was kind of out of sync with this new group that was there, and at this point I had two kids. I had--let's see; this was, like, the end of '94 [1994], so Nick [Nicholas Neisser] was two and Alexis [Alexis Neisser] was four. And I thought: I don't mind taking a little time off here and regrouping and trying to figure out what I wanna do next. So I said--so I came to the end of my time there, and I was really planning on taking time off. And went to a cocktail party for a friend of mine who was an agent, and--I, I can't remember if she was being promoted or something. And I ran into a woman who worked at what was then Columbia TriStar [Columbia TriStar Television] and who had been my--who had sold movies to me. The--basically, when you were at the network, there were certain producers--you were assigned certain producers and they would always bring their projects to you. And this woman and I had worked on a few projects together, and I ran into her at this cocktail party--Helen Verno. And she said, "What are you up to?" Because since I'd been at NBC Productions I hadn't been dealing with, with her anymore because we were now competitors. And I said, "Oh, I'm just leaving NBC Productions," and she said, "Oh, my god, my development person is just leaving. Would you think of--would you consider coming to work for me?" So I was--my leave of absence was I think three weeks before I was back (laughter) working again. And I went to work at what was then Columbia. This was before Sony [Sony Pictures Entertainment] bought the studio.$$Okay, okay, all right, so, so at Columbia, which, which becomes Sony later on--$$ Right.$$Yeah--$$ Now I will say that part of way that I did--part of the reason I took the job was because she said to me--you know, she said, "I don't think I can pay you what NBC was paying you." And I said, "Well, look, I was really planning on taking time off, so if you tell me I can go home every night at six o'clock and, and that you're not going to ask questions if I take off to go on a fieldtrip at my kids' school, and give me, you know, a certain amount of flexibility, then I don't mind working for less money." It wasn't that much less, but it was still less. And she said, "Fine," and so that was--that was my compromise of going back to work.$$Okay, that was a good move for--$$ It was. It, it actually was--it was a great move. And it turned--and you know, and it was just lucky that the studio was ten minutes from my house, so (laughter). Whereas NBC had been like a forty-five minute commute.

Jefferi Lee

Television executive Jefferi Keith Lee was born on January 24, 1957 in South Boston, Virginia to General and Nannie Lee. He attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School and Robert E. Lee Elementary School, and then graduated from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Lee studied radio, television and film at Missouri Valley College and at the University of Maryland in College Park.

In 1979, after working as an intern at the CBS affiliate WDVM-TV in Washington, D.C., Lee was hired as a production assistant for Morning Break and Harambee. Subsequently, he joined the production staff of television's first weekly newsmagazine show, PM Magazine, and became the show's associate producer in 1981. Then, in 1982, Lee was hired as the network operations manager for Black Entertainment Television. He was promoted to executive vice president of network operations in 1992, which expanded his responsibilities to oversee the development of two new BET networks including BET On Jazz: The Cable Jazz Channel, and BET International. Lee left BET as executive vice president in 1998 and founded Lee Productions, a communications consulting firm. Then, from 2005 until 2008, he served as executive director and president of the Bio-Defense Research Group. Lee was named general manager of Howard University's PBS outlet, WHUT-TV, in 2011.

Lee has also been involved in various non-profit organizations where he served on the boards of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Easter Seals, and as a member of the Georgia Tech Presidents Advisory Board. Lee was also an elder member of the Olive Branch’s Elder Board. He serves as the chief executive officer of the Brandon Carrington Lee Foundation with his wife, Tina Mance-Lee, who serves as chief operating officer. Lee has also lectured at Howard University and taught as a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Lee and his wife live in Silver Spring, Maryland. They have two sons: Brandon Lee (deceased) and Jefferi Lee, a web developer.

Jefferi Lee was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 24, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.269

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/24/2013 |and| 2/1/2014

Last Name

Lee

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Keith

Schools

St. Joseph's Catholic School

University of Maryland

Missouri Valley College

T.C. Williams High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Jefferi

Birth City, State, Country

South Boston

HM ID

LEE06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Lake Louise, Canada

Favorite Quote

Even if I die it doesn't mean that God didn't heal me.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/24/1957

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Television executive Jefferi Lee (1957 - ) , general manager of Howard University’s WHUT-TV, founded Lee Productions and served as the executive vice president of Black Entertainment Television from 1992 to 1998.

Employment

WHUT TV

Bio-Defense Research Group

BET

WDVM TV

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jefferi Lee's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jefferi Lee lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jefferi Lee describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jefferi Lee talks about his mother, Nannie Jane Carrington, her involvement in her community, and her employment

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jefferi Lee describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jefferi Lee describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jefferi Lee talks about his father's growing up in South Boston, Virginia, and his service in the U.S. Army in the Korean War

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jefferi Lee talks about his parents' different family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jefferi Lee talks about his parents' move to Alexandria, Virginia, and his father's employment

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jefferi Lee talks about his likeness to his father, his mother's last months, and his parents' emphasis on education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jefferi Lee talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jefferi Lee describes his favorite childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jefferi Lee talks about the neighborhood where his family lived in Alexandria, Virginia, and his childhood there

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jefferi Lee talks about the demographics of Alexandria, Virginia in the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jefferi Lee talks about attending elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jefferi Lee talks about his role models in school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jefferi Lee talks about his favorite subject in school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jefferi Lee talks about his interest in baseball as a young boy

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jefferi Lee talks about his mother's death in 1971 and his family's life afterwards

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Jefferi Lee describes his experience in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jefferi Lee talks about the teachers who influenced him in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jefferi Lee talks about his cross-country trip after graduating from high school, and his trip to Canada with his father and siblings

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jefferi Lee talks about his sister's role in his family, and his initial hesitation towards attending college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jefferi Lee discusses his decision to attend Missouri Valley College

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jefferi Lee describes his experience at Missouri Valley College

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jefferi Lee talks about having his own radio show at Missouri Valley College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jefferi Lee talks about transferring to the University of Maryland, College Park, and interning at WDVM, Channel 9 in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jefferi Lee talks about his job in the mailroom at WDVM in Washington, D.C., and his opportunity to join the management trainee program

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jefferi Lee talks about his production experience at WDVM in Washington, D.C., and his mentors there

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jefferi Lee talks about leaving WDVM station to join Black Entertainment Television (BET) in 1982, during its early days

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jefferi Lee talks about his experience at Black Entertainment Television (BET) in the 1980s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jefferi Lee talks about "Petey" Greene

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jefferi Lee talks about the growth of Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jefferi Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s increased programming, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jefferi Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s increased programming, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jefferi Lee talks about brand loyalty for Black Entertainment Television (BET)

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jefferi Lee talks about Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s jazz programming and news and public affairs programming

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jefferi Lee describes his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Jefferi Lee talks about brand loyalty for Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Jefferi Lee talks about his job in the mailroom at WDVM in Washington, D.C., and his opportunity to join the management trainee program
Transcript
I know Lewis Carr was telling us that when he went to advertisers, he would often talk about how the community, the black community was more loyal to BET [Black Entertainment Television] than say, you know, the community watching some other stations.$$Right, right. We had a lot of brand loyalty, and it displayed itself in many ways, I mean just in terms of, just viewers, one, but I mean I recall several times, one time in particular, I was in San Francisco [California]. And I was checking into a hotel late one night. And I was at the counter, and I was checking in. And I gave the lady my credit card, and it had BET on the credit card. And she just went berserk. She said, "Are you with BET?" She said, wow, we love BET at my house. We, and it was that kind of feeling that you would get traveling all over the country when we would meet black people who'd seen BET. It was a sense of, we were caretakers of a, you know, a national monument to some extent, that BET was ours. And the public felt like that. I remember another time when we went public. This was back in '91 [1991], I think it was when we first went, New York Stock Exchange, when BET went public. The night before we went public, Bob [Robert Johnson] wanted all the senior staff to go up to New York and spend the night and be there for in the morning. Well, Curtis Simmons and I, our kids had games that night. So we wanted to be here for our kids' games. So we told Bob, we'll get there first thing in the morning. So we stayed, went to the game, that morning, got up, rushed up to New York. And we got in a cab from the airport and we told the guy we wanted to go to the Stock Exchange on Wall Street. And he said, what's the address? I'm like, you don't know where Wall Street is? Anyway, we finally get there. The traffic was so bad. We were running late. So we jumped out of the cab, Curtis and I, and went running up the street. And we got to the building, it was the employee entrance to the Stock Exchange. And we went in the building, and this, the guy said, I'm sorry, you have to go out and go around and go in the main entrance. And there were two gentlemen back behind the desk that were in the maintenance crew. They were African Americans. And they said, they spoke up and said, are you with BET, 'cause everybody at the New York Stock Exchange knew that BET was going public, everybody black anyway, knew that BET was going public today. They said, are you with BET? And we said, yes. They said, come on. We'll take you in there. We'll take you in. And they marshaled us in. I mean they escorted us in all the way up to the chairman's office. And the pride that was in these guys' faces and in their voice, of something that they had nothing to do with. They weren't stockholders in BET, weren't going to be stockholders in BET. But the pride on their face, the excitement that they had, just by, it was like, it's still ours. This is ours going public today. And I always remember that about BET and my time at BET in that, it made me feel like I was the caretaker of some real property that black America said was ours. And that was really touching.$$This was almost like being an ambassador for a country.$$In a lot of ways, in a lot of ways. I remember traveling in, I was in South Africa once, and I was at a reception. And a guy came up to me, he said, well, first of all, he said, how does it feel from being--being from the greatest country in the world? I said, ah, (laughter), "Don't believe the hype all the time." (Laughter) And I said, it's not all paved in gold. I said, that's not really what it's like. And he said, well, how does it feel, you know, BET, being this great entity? And I told him, I said, you know, it's hard work. I mean I told him, because for so long, I was just at work. I didn't have the idea or the sense of how the rest of the--not just the country, but the world saw us. And it was really eye opening several times to go to different places and see that the brand itself had gone beyond just a television channel. It spoke to something of black America.$$So this is the first black television cable network, first black company to go to the New York--(simultaneous)--$$Public, yeah.$$--Stock Exchange, go public. So this is, you know, people felt like it was theirs, right?$$That's right.$$Which sets us up for (laughter)--$$Yeah.$$No, we won't get there yet. We're--$$(Laughter) (whew).$$We move along, you know--$$Okay.$Now, was it, did you, did somebody at the University of Maryland [College Park] like, you know, help you get that job (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$Well, you know, I had an internship at Channel 9 when I first came there, working at 'Morning Break' first. And I did the internship there, and after the first, I think it was after my first internship ended, I got home, and I got a phone call from the production manager, and told me that there was a job open at the station and to get my behind back to the station and apply for that job that was in the mailroom. And I said, mailroom, I wanna be in TV production. And I was told, no, you wanna job in the station. You get where you wanna be later, but right now, you want a job in the station. So I came back and applied, and I got a job in the mailroom. So I was working in there. So, once again, I got great advice from people around me. The guys in the mailroom, I would sit and talk with them, and they'd say, then they would tell me, we know everything that's going on in the station before anybody else. He said, so, understand that we know everybody. And I got to know from the people in the mailroom to the general manager's cook, all the people who were behind the scenes, but heard everything that was going on in the station and knew how things worked in the station. So that was a great education for me to be in that environment, right, didn't have to be sitting in the executive suite all the time. These are the people (laughter) who really under--who knew what was going on, really, whether they understood or not was another issue. But they knew what was going on. And so after I spent some time in the mailroom, there was another job open, film--I forget the actual title of the, the name of the job, but it was the person who put breaks in film. The station ran movies in the afternoon, and somebody had to look at the movies and decide where the breaks went in the movie. Now, because of union restrictions, I couldn't actually do the film editing, but I could look at the film, but the marks in the film where the breaks would be and everything. So I did that for a while. Also, in the station doing that and doing other kinds of things whatever I could find, the people who needed something done, I would volunteer to do that to be that person, to be with them. And then the management trainee position opened up, and I was asked if I--I was, I'll never forget. I was at a function one night. The sales department was having a function at an ad agency somewhere downtown, and the general manager of the station was there. And one of the people introduced me, one of the station employees introduced me to the general manager. And he said to me, he said, what--so, after we were talking, he said, so what do you wanna do? And I said, I want your job. And he said, oh, really (laughter)? He said, okay, we'll see about that. And so from that day forward, so then I got into the management, the training--management trainee program. And I got to go around the station and see all the different areas of the station, and how they worked from the programming side to the sales side to the news side, to the operations side, technical side, all of the different things that help put the station together and make it work. So that was, again, a very good learning experience.