Frederic W. Ziv, 96, the pioneering radio and TV syndicator (The Cisco Kid, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt
and the proverbial host of others), died Oct. 13 at his home in Cincinnati.
Ziv, born Aug. 17, 1905, in Cincinnati, founded the first radio transcription service in 1937 when he began packaging and distributing a local radio show, The Freshest Thing in Town, for a hometown baker. The show was a hit, but the production cost was too high for his sponsor. Ziv then hit on the idea of trying to sell and distribute the show nationally rather than custom-tailor the show for a single market at prohibitive expense. He moved his production operation to Chicago and began producing that and other shows for mass distribution.
Anticipating the rise of TV, he allied himself with Cisco Kid Productions in Hollywood in the 1940s, a company then turning out Westerns and adventure films. Armed with a library of such shows—and the rights to them—Ziv applied the same mass-distribution techniques to TV. In the 1950s, he was the largest independent producer-distributor of TV programming in the country. In 1959, he sold 80% of his company, Ziv TV, to Wall Street investment firms for $14 million. A year later, United Artists bought the entire company.
Ziv was a member of the inaugural class of BROADCASTING & CABLE's Hall of Fame in 1991.