Nearly 55 years ago, cable television was in hyper-growth mode. Robert Searle helped bring the stories surrounding the industry to the nation by producing “TV Communications” and “CATV Weekly,” two trade publications focused on cable TV
In 1966, he created the first NCTA Show Dallas.
Further, Searle owned cable TV systems until 2000, through his Searle Communications.
This made Searle a legendary figure in the cable TV world — and an individual who is being mourned through the Christmas holidays.
Searle died Dec. 8, following a brief illness, at the age of 72.
In 1964, Searle joined Communications Publishing Corp. for a job in ad sales. He then shifted to the role of Managing Editor. Five years later, he rose to company president, and shifted operations from Oklahoma City to the then-capital of the cable TV industry: Denver.
This led Searle to buy Cable TV systems in Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas and Texas in partnership with his brother, Stan Searle, and businessman Patrick Pogue.
Searle sold his last cable system in 2000, Tri-Lakes Cable of Monument, Colo. It is now a part of the Comcast family.
Meanwhile, Independent Cable News was formed under Searle’s leadership in 1993. The publication continues today as the voice of the American Cable Association.
A memorial service was held Dec. 18.
“We are all so very saddened by the passing of our good friend and colleague, Bob Searle,” ACA President/CEO Matthew M. Polka said. “Bob was a visionary who understood the vital role of independent cable companies in small and medium sized cities. He anticipated the expansion of cable’s channels and technology and how this investment could transform rural communities. In addition, his leadership paved the way for the cable industry in journalism and small system operations. When the Small Cable Business Association (SCBA) was formed in 1993 to represent the small and midsize operators, Bob founded Independent Cable News (ICN), a trade publication devoted exclusively to the interests of ‘the little guys’ in the business. Without Bob and ICN, no one would have heard of our fledgling Association, but Bob helped to put ACA on the map in Washington and in our industry.”
David Kinley, first chairman of then SCBA and former president of Sun Country Cable, added, “Bob was a too-seldom recognized asset for ACA. With every issue, he placed a graphic story of independent cable operators on the desks of congressmen, senators, the FCC and numerous other opinion-makers in DC. In the ‘early days’ of SCBA, ICN gave a national focus to a small group of anonymous cable operators who were desperate to talk to anyone who would listen. Bob made us look like grown-ups. With the release of every issue, I relished thinking about that impact.”