ROONE PINCKNEY ARLEDGE, JR. (July 8, 1931 – December 5, 2002) was
an American sports and news broadcasting executive who was president
ABC Sports from 1968 until 1986 and
* 1 Early life
* 2 Career
* 2.1 Assistant Producer
* 2.2 Flying high
* 3 Honors * 4 Sources * 5 References * 6 External links
Arledge was born in Forest Hills, Queens, New York City, the son of
Gertrude (Stritmater) and Roone Pinckney Arledge, an attorney.
Wellington C. Mepham High School on
Upon graduation, he decided that sportswriting was what he wanted to
do in life, and applied to
After receiving a bachelor's degree in 1952, Arledge enrolled in
graduate studies at Columbia's School of International Public Affairs.
Restless with graduate studies, he went looking for a job where he
could use his college degree and obtained an entry-level job at the
DuMont Television Network
Contacts he made at DuMont paid off with a stage manager's job at
New York City
Even with that success, Arledge wanted to tinker with programming
ideas. Using the avante-garde magazine
Scherick had joined the fledgling ABC television network when he
persuaded it to purchase Sports Programs, Inc. Scherick had formed
this company after leaving
While Scherick wasn't interested in "For Men Only," he recognized the talent Arledge had. Arledge realized ABC was the organization he was looking to join. The lack of a formal organization would offer him the opportunity to claim real power when the network matured. So, he signed on with Scherick as an assistant producer.
Several months before ABC began broadcasting NCAA college football games, Arledge sent Scherick a remarkable memo, filled with youthful exuberance, and television production concepts which sports broadcasts have adhered to since. Previously, network sporting broadcasts had consisted of simple set-ups and focused on the game itself. The genius of Arledge in this memo was not that he offered another way to broadcast the game to the sports fan. The genius was to recognize television had to take the sports fan to the game. In addition, Arledge was intelligent enough to realize that the broadcasts needed to attract, and hold the attention of women viewers. At age 29 on September 17, 1960 he put his vision into reality with ABC's first NCAA college football broadcast from Birmingham, Alabama, between Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs won by Alabama, 21–6. That same year, ABC began broadcasting games in the fledgling American Football League and used the same innovative techniques in their broadcasts. Sports broadcasting has not been the same since.
Despite the production values he brought to NCAA college football,
Scherick wanted low-budget (as in inexpensive broadcasting rights)
sports programming that could attract and retain an audience. He hit
upon the idea of broadcasting track and field events sponsored by the
Amateur Athletic Union
So in January 1961, Scherick called Arledge into his office, and asked him to attend the annual AAU board of governors meeting. While he was shaking hands, Scherick said, if the mood seemed right, might he cut a deal to broadcast AAU events on ABC? It seemed a tall assignment, but as Scherick said years later, "Roone was a gentile and I was not." Arledge came back with a deal for ABC to broadcast all AAU events for $50,000 a year.
Next, Scherick and Arledge divided up their NCAA college football sponsor list. They then telephoned their sponsors and said in so many words, "Advertise on our new sports show coming up in April, or forget about buying commercials on NCAA college football this fall." The two persuaded enough sponsors to advertise, though it took them to the last day of a deadline imposed by ABC programming to do it.
Wide World of Sports suited Scherick's plans exactly. By exploiting
the speed of jet transportation and flexibility of videotape, Scherick
was able to undercut
Arledge, his colleague
Chuck Howard , and
Jim McKay (who left
But more importantly from Arledge's perspective, Wide World of Sports allowed him to demonstrate his ability as an administrator as well as producer. Arledge did not gain a formal title as president of ABC Sports until 1968, even though Scherick left his position to assume a position of vice president for programming at ABC in 1964.
Arledge personally produced all ten ABC Olympic broadcasts, created
Monday Night Football
In 1977, ABC made Arledge president of the then low-rated network
news division, all while Arledge retained control of the Sports
Previous to that time, the only news experience Arledge had was providing ABC's coverage of the tragedies during the \'72 Olympics in Munich . Other than that, he had no other major experience in news.
Arledge's first major creation for ABC was 20/20 , which premiered in
June 1978. The first iteration of this program fared badly, and
resulted in the firing of the original hosts, with
Shortly thereafter, Arledge reformatted the network's evening newscast with many of the splashy graphics he had developed at Wide World of Sports , and created World News Tonight . The program was unique not only because it was anchored by three newsmen, but because each of them were located in separate cities. The lead anchor became Frank Reynolds , who was based in Washington, with Max Robinson based out of Chicago, and Peter Jennings reporting from London. The program expanded to weekends in 1979. In 1983, Reynolds died of bone cancer , and Robinson departed the network, and ABC made Jennings the sole anchor of World News Tonight on September 5, 1983. Jennings anchored the broadcast until April 5, 2005, when he announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer , to which Jennings would succumb on August 7, 2005.
In 1979, the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran was taken over by Iranian
students, creating the
Iranian Hostage Crisis . And on November 4,
Frank Reynolds began anchoring a series of special reports
entitled AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE. Several nights later,
In 1981, Arledge brought