By BroadCasting & Cable Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 3/24/2002 7:00:00 PM
A Rose for Pat
Editor: As the world marks the passing of former NBC President Sylvester L. ("Pat") Weaver Jr., I'd like to add a rose to the bouquet of his accomplishments.
Weaver was a visionary television executive who created such enduring programs as the Today and Tonight shows. But he also was a man of generous imagination, who loaned his talents to the Muscular Dystrophy Association for more than 30 years, serving as its president for five years. Thanks in part to his efforts beginning in the early 1970s, a fledgling MDA Labor Day Telethon grew into a national institution that aids tens of thousands of families affected by neuromuscular diseases.
Pat, we salute you, and we'll miss you.
—Robert Ross, president and CEO, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Tucson, Ariz.
Editor: "It was Sarnoff who came up with the idea of stringing together radio stations around the country into a network" ("NBC at 75," March 11)?
No! It was Ma Bell's AT&T Network, with its flagship station WEAF, which inspired Sarnoff to start his RCA Network, with its WJZ as the flagship, using Western Union lines for interconnection.
Only after AT&T decided its role should be that of common carrier and not broadcaster or programmer and sold its network and station to RCA was NBC organized to operate both. The AT&T Network became NBC Red. WEAF, later WNBC, is now WFAN(AM) New York. The RCA Network, switched to higher-quality AT&T lines, became NBC Blue. WJZ later became WABC(AM) New York.
The Red and Blue names came from the colors of the lines on the AT&T network map, to which purple and gold would be added for Columbia and Mutual.
One can not overstate the value of Pat Weaver's contribution. Imagine the disaster at NBC between Weaver and Tinker-Tartikoff had it not been for the legacy of Today, Tonight and specials. After ABC's AM America failed, Weaver was hired as a consultant, and the resulting Good Morning, America not only prospered but inspired the other networks to restyle their morning offerings, too.
—Thomas D. Bratter, Los Angeles
Editor: CNN's Walter Isaacson ("The new shape of CNN's world", Feb. 18) professes an admirable desire to strengthen his domestic network's journalistic reputation.
But his description of CNN's coverage of the "summer of sharks" as "frivolous" is disingenuous. On the very morning your magazine hit the newsstands, the University of Florida published statistics illustrating that, in 2001, there were actually fewer shark attacks and shark-related fatalities in U.S. waters than in 2000.
The obsessive summer-long coverage by CNN wasn't frivolity. It was pure invention and should be noted as such.
—Simon Marks, president and chief correspondent, Feature Story News, Washington
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