Syndication Loses Its King
When Roger King passed away from a stroke on Dec. 8, television lost a legend who will be remembered for an unparalleled presence both inside and outside of the workplace.For More...
'He Was a True Showman'
The CBS Corp. organizational chart may have Leslie Moonves' name at the top, but there was one man even the president and CEO never dreamed of telling what to do: the late Roger King, CEO of CBS Television Distribution.For More...
King of Candor
By every account, Roger King was unparalleled as a salesman. He was also one of the best damn quotes in the television business. And at a time when financial and Wall Street pressures have tightened the larynx (and other body parts) of most every television executive, the loss of one of the last great verbal gunslingers—who could sum up pretty much anything—hits that much harder.For More...
Tales of Roger King (the Printable Ones)
When we asked friends, colleagues and competitors to share some of their favorite stories about the CBS Television Distribution CEO, the best response came from Bill Applegate, VP/general manager of WOIO Cleveland: "I've got a lot of stories about him, but none I can tell in this publication."For More...
Syndication Legend Roger King Dies
Roger King, the larger-than-life syndication executive behind Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and The Oprah Winfrey Show, died Saturday after a suffering a stroke Friday morning at his home in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 63.For More...
From the archive:
Roger King Sounds Off
In a conversation with B&C on the eve of the 2007 NATPE convention, King discusses why he thinks the first-run market is so bad that even he couldn’t clear new projects.For More...
The King of CBS Distribution
On the heels of the October 2006 formation of the CBS Television Distribution Group, a new entity combining CBS Paramount Domestic Television, King World and CBS Paramount International Television, Roger King spoke with B&C's Ben Grossman about the growth opportunities, the biggest challenges and the strategies of the new organization.For More...
No New Kings
While the 2005 NATPE was livelier than it has been for the past several years—Oprah's appearance, her first at the event in a decade, was but one sign—it was still a far cry from the halcyon days of syndication, before government rules changed and gutsy independents like King World were absorbed into mega-media concerns.For More...
King Speaks from His Throne: Roger King/King World
Either NATPE was made for Roger King, CEO of King World Productions, or just the other way around. Even in years like this one, where he won’t be unfolding any new syndicated product, he is a larger-than-life presence at the convention.For More...
The World View from the King
By now, the history of King World is a legend in the TV business. It's not quite rags to riches, but as near to it as those stories ever get. In the early 1970s, the King brothers—Michael and Roger—inherited a struggling syndication business from their father. It had exactly one show in its arsenal: The Little Rascals.For More...
To share your favorite memories and stories about Roger, please submit a comment through the Talkback feature or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve known Roger my whole career, in excess of 30 years. He’s a great friend, and my last several jobs all came to be because Roger made a call. He’s got a very strong presence, and I’ve always been a big fan of his. He’s very honest and has tremendous integrity; despite what people might say, he never took a show away from anybody. -- Arnie Kleiner, President/General Manager, KABC Los Angeles
I’d like his family to know how much Roger and his brother meant to me in giving me such an opportunity in the beginning by syndicating my show. I greatly appreciated it. Roger was always larger than life, in many different ways. -- Martha Stewart, Founder, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
I think the thing is, if you read the many articles today, you’re going to hear from everybody pretty much the same thing: that the family with Roger and Michael at the helm--and especially Roger at the helm--really did change the business as we knew it and really did change the way people did do business. And all of that’s really true. Sometimes you read these things, and it’s not really true but in this case it really really is. I think it’s important that people really recognize when someone leaves the scene who really changed the scene remarkably in the time they had.
Roger was a savant. He was ahead of his time. He was sometimes a person who was maybe overly a bit aggressive, but what people really did like about him was that he was his own man. So that if you asked him a question, he gave you a straight answer. That ability to really say what you mean and mean what you say is pretty rare. He had the luxury for a very long time, he and his brother, of running his own company and doing very well and being wealthy, and so that sometimes gives you the extra strength to say what you want when you want to say it. But the truth of the matter is that they made the company what it was by thinking independently and taking risks and doing things that other people weren’t doing, and that’s especially an amazing trait.
When you take a look back at Wheel and Jeopardy, you take a look back at Oprah, you take a look at eventually Dr. Phil and the other things that they tried, they were not afraid to bring things to market, and they had rules about doing things the way they were going to do them. And if they didn’t think they were really going to do it right, then they tended not to do it. But when they did it, they did it they did it right. They invested. They bought time and they did promotion and they made shows look really good. They didn’t do things on the cheap. Even going back 20 years, they invested in their business in ways that people don’t often do. And I think that’s what made Roger special. On top of that, Roger, regardless of whether he was 40, 50 or 60, if there was a deal to me made, Roger got a plain and he went. He didn’t send emissaries. Roger made the deal.
And the other side of it is, even thought those guys always tried to exact as much as they could, they weren’t the kind that left you sitting in the corner and thinking, Why did I do that? Because once the show was on your air, they supported the show. They didn’t just sort of leave you alone. They weren’t ones to make it a one-sided deal. They always invested in the show. And these are things that not everybody does. So it’s important to recognize that Roger did that.
Truly an original guy. And also truly someone who loved the business. He loved the business and that’s a special thing. Sometimes he was a bull in a china shop. He wasn’t always easy to talk to. But you knew that when you were going to go into a room to talk to Roger about something, you better know your shit. Roger made you better because if you didn’t know what you were talking about he was going to make sure that you knew that.
Through it all, he is going to be missed. -- Rick Feldman, President, National Association of Television Program Executives
When Roger was out selling Oprah, Wheel and Jeopardy, I was sales manager and couldn’t believe the numbers he was asking. "Who’s Oprah? Who’s Vanna?" Roger said, "I see you’re a little worried--that’s good, that’s how I like to negotiate." He ended up giving me a helluva deal because my former boss took care of him. When people say Roger King is a loyal guy, I witnessed it first-hand.
Years later, we were both a part of CBS (WFRV was an O&O). I thought we’d get a great deal because of that. Whoa, was I wrong. I told him I thought we should get a deal, and he said, "You should be happy--you’re a shareholder!" -- Perry Kidder, President/General Manager, WFRV Green Bay
I was really taken aback when he passed away. He was a character. The guy valued his relationships in the business, and the people he dealt with valued their relationships with him. And as much as we’re in a business where it’s about the numbers and return on the investment, you did a deal with Roger and his word was golden, and the deal was always good for both parties.
He was a pro, and people on the other side of his desk that he sold to appreciated his honesty. He will certainly be missed.
He was the consummate salesperson. He knew how to have fun. He was an old school guy--I mean that in all the best way. As the business gets more sophisticated people can learn a lot by the way Roger did business.
I just think he should be remembered for what he accomplished and the way he treated people and what he did for the business. I think of him as a guy who really did some amazing things for television and launched and put shows on the air that are some of the most iconic shows in all of television. That’s how I would hope everyone would remember him and do yhat with a smile on their face because they all knew when they were around him they had a really good time.
When I came to town 15 years ago, when I went from being a station guy who was buying shows to the syndication guy who now became people’s competitor, I can’t tell you the number of people who I thought were my friends who kind of treated me differently because I was a competitor. Roger was the same guy.
As a matter of fact, he said to me, "I used to love you because you were a buyer. Now I love you more because you’re a competitor." He just loved the competition. And he loved that battle. But when it was all over, he’d be the first guy to say, "Let’s go grab a beer." And that’s what I loved about him. It wasn’t personal. He loved the game. -- Steve Mosko, President, Sony Pictures Television
A Remarkable guy, a real throwback to the great buccaneers of the broadcasting age, both professionally and personally. He was highly entertaining to be around. Generous when it came to having fun with his friends but brutal when it came time to doing business. -- Bill Applegate, VP/General Manager, WOIO Cleveland
Roger was fiercely loyal - to his family, his friends and to his clients.
It was in the spring of 1972 (as I recall) when Charlie King died at the Saint Anthony Hotel in San Antonio - in town for an appointment to renew "The Little Rascals," which was a staple of our afternoon Kids's show on KENS-TV. We were there to help the King family arrange to have their father's body returned home. Roger and Michael never forgot that simple courtesy and remained 'fiercely loyal' to us throughout the years.
We were the first station in San Antonio to run "Wheel" and "Jeopardy." We were the first to run "Oprah." All because Roger and Michael made it a point to call on us first. Then, when the shows were ripe with success and our competititors came after them with a vengeance, Roger and Michael stood by us in helping to protect the shows for us - often taking less than they were being offered by our competitors.
Many years later, I was involved with the University of Cincinnati in presenting the "Frederick W. Ziv Award" posthumously to Charlie King. Every member of the family came to Cincinnati to receive the award in the name of their father. THAT is what it means to be "fiercely loyal to family, friends and clients!"
It has been a privilege to know them all. -- William Moll, Chairman, Clear Channel Television