Leo Hoarty

Leo Hoarty

Interviewer: Jim Keller
Collection: Hauser Collection

KELLER: This is the oral history of Joseph “Leo” Hoarty, generally known in the industry as Leo Hoarty, the retired president of the Hoarty Corporation and Hoarty Management Company, an extraordinary entrepreneur, an innovative entrepreneur, the past general manager of one of the early major market cable television systems in Toledo, Ohio, Buckeye Cablevision, and a host of other innovative experience in operations throughout his career in the business. Leo, what did you do before you go into cable television?

HOARTY: Well, I started out as manager of chambers of commerce in two resorts.

KELLER: Where?

HOARTY: St. Augustine, Florida and Daytona Beach area, and in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but I left that work and decided to start Virginia Beach’s first AM radio station.

KELLER: That was your own operation?

HOARTY: Yes, with a few partners.

KELLER: Did you apply for the license?

HOARTY: We applied for a license, WBOF, and went into business. Later we picked up a defunct FM station in Norfolk and a radio station in Newburn, and we sold those very successfully and I found myself in the tractor business by mistake and I got out of that and I read in the paper that Cox Broadcasting and Henry Kaiser were going to come together and build a cable TV amplification factory. I didn’t know much about cable.

KELLER: Before you get into that, were you a native Virginian?

HOARTY: No, I’m from Baltimore, Maryland, but lived there 14 years.

KELLER: What was your educational background?

HOARTY: Came out of the Navy in World War II, went to Stetson University, didn’t stay too long, didn’t finish, married and went to work in the chamber of commerce field. Later, I went to William and Mary night school and did a little short course at UNC in Chapel Hill.

KELLER: So then, after you formed this radio station, how long did you operate it before you sold it?

HOARTY: I was operating eight years, and then we sold it and I was in the tractor business a short period and I read in the paper that Cox and Kaiser were going to build this factory for cable amplifiers. I thought I was very qualified for that job as president of that company so I went down to Atlanta and applied and spoke to Leonard Reinsch. He said, “Leo, I have good news for you. You’re not going to get that job. We’ve already hired a president who probably won’t last a year. You know how big corporations in partnership fight, but I’ve got just the man you want to see. Go down the hall and see John Campbell. He’s heading up our new cable TV department and if you pass the test we’ve got a major project for you. Go see John and come back.”

KELLER: Now, John – was he the original employee of Cox Cablevision or was he still in Cox Broadcasting?

HOARTY: I think he was the original manager of the cable division which they had just formed.

KELLER: Before John Gwin, before Henry Harris, before all of those people.

HOARTY: That’s right. They had purchased a couple small mom and pop cable systems on the west coast. A fellow named Davenport owned them…

KELLER: Lou Davenport.

HOARTY: And he went to work for Cox, and they purchased a small system somewhere in lower middle Pennsylvania. So, after going to lunch with Campbell and with their treasurer, I went back down the hall to see Mr. Reinsch and he said, “We’re going to build a great…” and then he started telling me about this magnificent cable system they’re going to build in Toledo, Ohio.

KELLER: Was he talking about Atlanta also at that time, about building…? I think they had a franchise at that time for Atlanta, didn’t they?

HOARTY: He didn’t discuss that with me. They were interested in Atlanta. Atlanta was where they were headquartered and they had a beautiful white mansion. But he wanted to tell me how great this opportunity in Toledo was. I didn’t know where Toledo was at the time. Finally I got the job to go to Toledo and start the system.

KELLER: Now, before that Cox had talked to the Bloch family, the owners of the Toledo Blade, about building a system in Toledo, is that correct?

HOARTY: Yes. The Blade Company and Cox met because the Blade Company sold them a television station or license in Pittsburgh, which was a very well-performing operation and so Cox went back and said, “Here’s something we’re interested in,” and the two got together to build Buckeye.

KELLER: The Toledo Blade got the franchise in Toledo as a protective measure, is that correct? They wanted to protect their market from other communications sources – was that their primary motivation?

HOARTY: I’d say it was two-fold. They wanted to protect their newspaper, which was a very valuable property and a very respected property, and also they wanted to get into this new line of communications.

KELLER: Why didn’t they go into broadcasting such as Cox did?

HOARTY: They had some broadcast interests which they had sold.

KELLER: Who were some of the principles involved in the Toledo Blade decision to get into the business?

HOARTY: I think Wayne Current, who was the vice-president of Buckeye, and John Willey, the president.

KELLER: Buckeye or the Toledo Blade Company?

HOARTY: John Willey was the president of the Toledo Blade Company and managed the newspaper, which was then a morning and evening paper. Wayne Current was his vice-president and assistant. They both became officers of Buckeye Cablevision. I think they were the main forces in bringing the Blade into the cable business and they were the negotiators, they certainly were the liaison with Cox.

KELLER: When you became associated with the now Toledo Blade/Cox, I’ll call it joint venture for lack of a better term, what was the status of the franchise? Had they been awarded…?

HOARTY: They were awarded the franchise and we were instructed to get it built and underway as soon as possible.

KELLER: ASAP, right now. This was what year?

HOARTY: 1965.

KELLER: You made a statement earlier that you felt that the Toledo market was the first major market built… what was your terminology?

HOARTY: Where you didn’t really need cable. You had good off-the-air signals, reasonably.

KELLER: From Detroit, and they had two stations in Toledo at the time. Some parts of Toledo could receive most of the Detroit and the Windsor Canadian channels, is that right?

HOARTY: Channel 9 of Windsor and Channel 50 came into being, it only touched a little part of northern Toledo, but we had reasonably good off-the-air signal. At that time San Diego was thriving as a cable system, probably the first really successful one in America, but it was pumping in seven or eight channels from the LA area. Cox had the idea that we could improve the Toledo reception with microwave signals, and they had a plan to put a microwave chain across America. They called it a T-bone. It would go down the central United States and across the northern part.

KELLER: Coming through Toledo, right?

HOARTY: Right, and they wanted to bring in some distant signals, and at that time we thought we could bring in a lot of distant signals but later the FCC said you can only bring in two.

KELLER: At one point none, during the freeze. Could you carry the Detroit signals?

HOARTY: We had to fight for it.

KELLER: Tell me why.

HOARTY: Well, for one thing, Storer Broadcasting was suing and interfering and filing against us…

KELLER: Why Storer?

HOARTY: They had a station there.


HOARTY: In Toledo.

KELLER: In Toledo, and they wanted to keep out the network station.

HOARTY: Right.

KELLER: But they were a cherry picker, weren’t they? Was that WSPD?

HOARTY: I think they were. I think they were, yes.

KELLER: So they were cherry picking from all three networks, then.

HOARTY: I believe so, but I’m not sure of that.

KELLER: I’m not either, and I don’t remember that. So they wanted to prohibit any of the Detroit network stations coming into Toledo.

HOARTY: Yes. In fact, I asked John Campbell, he said there were a lot of applicants for my job, and I asked him, “Why did you pick me?” He said, “You said the right thing.” I said, “What did I say?” In answer to a question I told him that I thought cable TV, which I knew nothing about, looked like a big threat to the networks and he said, “You’re right. It is a big threat to the networks,” and it turned out that way.

KELLER: But had Storer applied for a franchise in Toledo also at that time or was it later?

HOARTY: I can’t remember that. There was a battle going on, yes. Lamb interests were battling for…

KELLER: Lamb was from Detroit, right? Or Michigan someplace.

HOARTY: Michigan. There was a major battle going on for franchise, which the Blade won.

KELLER: Obviously. Both of them sued, didn’t they? Both the Lamb interests and Storer sued?


KELLER: On what basis?

HOARTY: I can’t recall that. I really can’t. Everything in the book.

KELLER: Consolidation of all communications and information in the market?

HOARTY: I don’t recall the details, but I can assure you, all sides had major law firms and we spent an awful lot of time as witnesses being called on for depositions and such.

KELLER: Was it tried in Toledo?

HOARTY: Most of the time, yes. Sometimes in Cleveland.

KELLER: That’s when it was appealed?

HOARTY: I think the Blade did win out. I know they did. They won out, I just can’t recall… There were so many… At one time I remember there were 13 filings against us, 13 different sets of lawyers and 13 sets of charges. It was quite a battle.

KELLER: Against Buckeye Cablevision and the Toledo Blade, or the Blade…?

HOARTY: The Blade and Cox, yeah, all three.

KELLER: Oh, yes, Cox also in there. So when all of this was ironed out, were you building while all this was going on?

HOARTY: Yes. I was a low level person in this battle.

KELLER: You were the general manager.

HOARTY: I was the general manager. I was busy trying to figure out what to do. When I was first hired I asked John Campbell, “Would you give me an operational book of some sort. You know I don’t have any background in cable.” He said, “That’s okay. We don’t have one either. You’re going to write one. I’ll tell you what you can do, go see these people,” and he gave me a list of people. He said, “Here’s some systems. Jump in your car and go visit them. Take pictures, make notes, pick up some things. There are some smart guys in this business,” and he named two or three guys in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia…

KELLER: Do you remember any of the names or any of the systems that you visited?

HOARTY: I remember visiting near Cumberland, Maryland. I went to the system that Cox had in Pennsylvania. I can’t recall right off the bat all the people I visited. I was meeting them for the first time and some of them I never met again. They were just people that he sent me to see to learn what I could about the cable industry. He was interested, John was interested in my broadcast background and marketing ability and management ability, and he said, “You’ll learn about cable.” But the truth is, the industry was very small. Cox had less than 30,000 subscribers in all of their systems combined.

KELLER: And this was what year?

HOARTY: 1965.

KELLER: Yeah, that’s probably right. New York was starting to operate, San Francisco was starting to operate. You visited with Irving Kahn at one time, didn’t you?

HOARTY: He told my boss, “When you come to the convention, I want to see Leo and discuss the problem we’re having with apartment house complexes,” and we were being bombarded with demands for payoffs by apartment house complexes. They didn’t want to let us in with the cable and yet they had a lot of renters that were asking for cable TV services, or we were trying to sell and install.

KELLER: Had you ever talked to the utility companies, the telephone company or the power company, about using their easements to get into those places?

HOARTY: To tell you the truth, that’s how we really did it. In the early days, we went into what is called a leaseback. We were probably the first major market leaseback.

KELLER: I want to discuss that.

HOARTY: A leaseback is where the telephone company supplies the transport of a signal and we lease from them.

KELLER: All the way to the set.

HOARTY: From the headend to the drop.

KELLER: Just to the drop, not to the outside of the house?

HOARTY: Right, just to the drop, and then we would make the drop and install in the house.

KELLER: How many miles of leaseback system did you have in Toledo?

HOARTY: Well, the overall plan, I remember, was 430 miles in the beginning, and by the way, John Campbell insisted I walk that 430 miles with the telephone company because he said, “If you leave it to them, we’ll have more poles leased than we need. I want you to walk it with a telephone company man and pick out the poles you need.” First I had to find out how I do that, but once I did I was to walk it out and once we walked it out we’d sign off on it and Ohio Bell would build it. The leaseback portion… I have to explain something that happened. Our headend was seven miles away from our system, so the leaseback portion was at least seven miles before we had the first customer, and we found that wasn’t very good. So we had to find a new headend within the system and transfer everything and try not to interrupt service and forsake or give up the old headend. This was not the Blade’s fault, this was a Cox problem. They picked the first headend. So that was a big problem. But in the beginning, I’d say that we went maybe 100 miles of leaseback before the Blade Company bought out the leaseback and decided to build their own and run their own cable system, which was a very wise idea.

KELLER: Oh, yes. What were some of the major problems you had with dealing with the telephone company on the leaseback?

HOARTY: Well, I wasn’t the only one that didn’t know anything about cable. Nobody at the Bell Company knew about cable and oftentimes our little office manager lady would figure out from the telephone calls where the troubles were and call Bell and tell them to go fix it.

KELLER: And they’d do it when they got around to it.

HOARTY: That was part of the problem. They had a heavy union problem in addition to not knowing much about the industry, and they wanted to learn. They wanted it to be right, but the performance was rather slow and it was not an important thing. They whole cable TV operations was so small, so tiny compared to the overall Bell operation that it was hard to get attention.

KELLER: Now, when you started to build your own system, did you interconnect that to the leaseback system or at that time had you bought out the telephone company?

HOARTY: By that time we had bought it out.

KELLER: All of this is going on while the lawsuits are still pending in Toledo, is that correct?

HOARTY: Oh, yeah. We had hearings and lawsuits for some time before they were all settled.

KELLER: What was Lamb’s part in this whole thing? They felt that they should have been awarded a franchise, that there was discrimination against them? Do you remember any of that?

HOARTY: I can’t recall that.

KELLER: It was a long, long battle.

HOARTY: It was a bitter battle, I know that.

KELLER: It was never fought out in the newspaper though, as I recall.


KELLER: I can’t even remember a mention. The reason I’m saying that is I’m from Toledo, so I remember this era and I don’t ever remember… well, ’66 I was already gone at that time, but I don’t remember anything every being published about this.

HOARTY: The newspaper kept arms length from the cable. In other words, we didn’t advertise in the Toledo Blade for a long, long time. It was many years before Buckeye was being promoted by the newspaper. It was on its own. I guess there was some fear of somebody pointing a finger and saying…

KELLER: You continued to build and you started originally building a dual cable system, is that correct? And how many channels did you carry on each one? 13 on each one?

HOARTY: We started out with one cable but then our consultant recommended a dual cable. Personally I hated dual cable because I realized the problems we had with one, we’d have more with two. People would be confused with the switches, the lady of the house wouldn’t like two black cables coming in her room. So we switched to white and tan cable color for the inside and we did our best to hide it so it was not obtrusive or invading or ugly. Later on, they switched back to single cable because converters became very, very good, but in the early days they weren’t.

KELLER: How many channels were you carrying on the dual cable system? 12 on each cable?

HOARTY: I think 12 on each cable.

KELLER: What were you carrying on those? As you said before, there wasn’t that much to carry.

HOARTY: They weren’t all filled at first. But we did originate our own channel. We had local origination. We had a camera crew and staff that went out and made films of the zoo, the churches, the school activities.

KELLER: You did it on film, huh?

HOARTY: We did it on film and later it switched to tape, but we were doing it the hard way. We also rented some films directly from Hollywood and ran all night movies. In the early days they were very poor films. They were expensive and poor films because Hollywood wouldn’t release anything that was good.

KELLER: Some of your other innovations, and other systems were doing those things but never 24-hours a day, you also had a 24-hour maintenance program or service calls on a 24-hour basis?

HOARTY: I don’t remember when, but sometime after we passed 10,000-12,000 subscribers and we knew we were in an industrial city that had a second shift, we knew that because we had such a wonderful response on our all night movie channel, people liked it. Sometime about then I had the idea that we should have a 24-hour service crew. The union fought it tooth and toenail.


HOARTY: I don’t know. I never really understood the union…

KELLER: Which union?

HOARTY: We had the Communication Workers of America. They voted in union when we started. We only had three installers but they voted union.

KELLER: That’s a union town.

HOARTY: I did my best to talk them out of it but I didn’t succeed. I said, “Why don’t you try me out? Test me. See if I’m going to be a terrible manager before you resort to union, start paying dues,” and they didn’t see the logic of that. I thought they had a wonderful chance to test me for six months or a year and see how we treated them. I knew we would treat them well. But anyway, the union objected to the 24-hour thing.

KELLER: Were your studio people union also? Your camera operators, were they union people also, your studio people?

HOARTY: No, no, just the installers and the servicemen.

KELLER: You’re talking about the union objecting to your 24-hour maintenance program or service calls?

HOARTY: Right. They were objecting to that. They also didn’t like it when we put on women as techs and installers which was something we did, we were probably the first in the industry because I remember we had some magazine that wrote us up, had a picture of one of our girls climbing a pole.

KELLER: How many of the percentage of your trouble calls did you get after say 10:00 at night?

HOARTY: It was a small percentage. I don’t mean that it was heavy duty, but I felt that we were… well, first of all, we were scheduled to be a 40,000 subscriber system. That was our goal and we were maybe 12 or 15, 10 or 12, I don’t remember. But I could see that the sooner I could get this underway and have good service around the clock, the better our reputation would be and the more customers we’d keep and the less we’d lose. Churn was a very serious problem. Not as bad for Toledo as some places like California, but it was a serious problem and we had to make up for those people who disconnected or moved.

KELLER: Now parenthetically, and I think the viewers should be aware, that all of this was before there were any satellite delivered signals in the market, before HBO came on the air or on satellite in ’74-’75. So you were doing all of this and you still reached a 52% penetration prior to putting on satellite signals?

HOARTY: Yes. We did everything. We had bingo games, in addition to the all night movies. We even had a fish tank on camera; we had a camera that scanned all the weather instruments so that people could look and see what the weather is.

KELLER: Did you have a ticker tape?

HOARTY: No, we didn’t use that right away but we did later. We did everything we could think of to make the service… well, I’ll tell you how far we went. We had FM radio, we added that, and then I came up with a suggestion to our chief engineer, “Can you put shortwave on? I’d like to put shortwave radio on in addition to the FM.” He said, “Sure.” After tinkering around he built a system for us and we put all the favorite shortwave stations on, including two, which I later found out, I wasn’t allowed to put on. I put on Voice of America because I personally could tune into it and like it, and put on BBC and put on Radio Moscow. Now this was back in the days when…

KELLER: Where were you getting the signal?

HOARTY: We rigged up antennas to pick them up.

KELLER: Shortwave antennas.

HOARTY: I later found out that I wasn’t allowed to do it. I don’t think they still do it, but somebody pointed out to me that it was absolutely illegal to put those two on. The strange thing about that, no one ever mentioned to me – I just put it on, Radio Moscow, I thought I’d get some reaction – no one ever mentioned it until I was talking to somebody at the FCC.

KELLER: Leo, I want to start from there in the next set of questions, and I want to get into how you continued to develop the system in the eight years you were there. Leo, as you were developing the Toledo market, you also then expanded outside of the city limits into the surrounding suburbs and you went after the franchises there. How did you handle that?

HOARTY: Well, it seemed like all my evenings were taken up going to city council meetings with the attorney to either explain what we were going to offer in a bid for the franchise, or explaining why we hadn’t started construction after being granted the franchise.

KELLER: And how did you answer that question? Although you were constructing…

HOARTY: Very carefully. First of all, it does take some time to study a community and to walk out the poles, to lay it out, to get the materials, to get the construction underway…

KELLER: Well, in effect you were constructing, you were doing pre-construction work.

HOARTY: So we used pre-construction activity, reported on that very honestly, and reassured them that we would start the operation as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we had to keep building Toledo and there was pressure on there to do adjacent communities or sections.

KELLER: There were? Who was pressuring you to do that? Were there other applicants in say Maumee or Sylvania…?

HOARTY: There were potential and other applicants, of course, but within the city of Toledo, we had pressure from neighborhoods, “When are you going to get to us?” So we were trying to get to them as soon as we could, meanwhile train the staff and upgrade the service within the existing system, and we did a fair job of that. Service was a very important thing. We had some problems, though. The leaseback was a major problem because we were knocked off the air a lot by the phone company and without a signal we couldn’t do anything.

KELLER: How were you knocked off the air?

HOARTY: Well, for one thing, in the winter time we had bad weather. Then sometimes a pole would get knocked down by an automobile.

KELLER: But they wouldn’t cut you off, the phone company wouldn’t cut you off?

HOARTY: No, no, I meant they would have disrupted service and they were slow getting to it. They thought getting there the same evening was very good and we thought it should be the same ten minutes. We had a difference of opinion. The other problem we had was computers were brand new, computer building was brand new and Cox was brand new in doing it.

KELLER: So Cox was still managing it. You were still reporting to them?

HOARTY: Cox was doing our billing. The billing was being done in Atlanta, it didn’t work. So then we switched and got a local computer company to do our billing and once we straightened out billing and once we got off the leaseback, then we could get rolling because those are two major problems.

KELLER: The problem was that if the system had an amplifier go out or started to vibrate or something like that, you’d call the telephone company, you would not get immediate service.

HOARTY: Would not.

KELLER: I can see that. Their cultural attitude was, well, so you don’t have phone service for awhile. So what?

HOARTY: Also, their idea of a good, clean signal wasn’t good. They would put up with snow and interference on a signal that our customer wouldn’t appreciate.

KELLER: They didn’t have any video technicians, did they? Or any electronic technicians?

HOARTY: No, they were learning, just as, really, we were.

KELLER: I don’t know of any leaseback situation that has ever worked.

HOARTY: I don’t either.

KELLER: And fortunately very few operators ever leased a telephone company plant, only under very dire circumstances did they do so when they had to do it for competitive reasons or for whatever, and there was a time, as you remember, when the telephone companies wouldn’t allow us on the poles.

HOARTY: That’s right. What amazes me is that the telephone company wound up owning so much of the cable industry and now is trying to sell it back.

KELLER: You’re talking about AT&T now. Did you have any problems with getting any of the franchises in the surrounding areas?

HOARTY: I don’t think so. I can’t recall any because Buckeye was really a very good system. For its day it was about as good as you could get, and I don’t recall any problem on the franchise.

KELLER: What did you say to them when they said, “If you get the franchise today, I want the system built tomorrow?”

HOARTY: I repeated all the true stories of how long it took to lay it out, to design it, to construct it, to hire people, train people, and get service going. It does take some time. Although Buckeye started out rather quickly, I didn’t come to work in Toledo until about November 1st and we were on the air by March 31st.

KELLER: Of what year?

HOARTY: ’65. And we were on the air, as they said, or we were active serving customers, and we had to serve, I think it was 50 customers by midnight March 31st in order to comply with some FCC ruling, but we did it.

KELLER: I don’t remember what that would have been.

HOARTY: I don’t remember what that was either, except we had an absolute deadline and meeting it was critical.

KELLER: I’d like to look into that sometime a little bit further. Now, did any of the suburbs give you any problems?

HOARTY: I can’t recall. I really can’t recall any except complaints about when are you going to start.

KELLER: And they all wanted to be next, huh?


KELLER: What if you were on the east side of Toledo and Sylvania wanted service next? How did you tell them you’d do that? You’d have to build all the way through to get to them?

HOARTY: The company handled those high level discussions. I really wasn’t in on all of that. The attorneys for the company, the offices of the company handled those negotiations I’m sure more than I did. I was more or less the operating manager reporting, answering questions, but I certainly was not the politician in charge.

KELLER: That was because it was the Blade ran everything. You were there until ’73?

HOARTY: ’74.

KELLER: ’74, so had you built a satellite receiver dish before you left?

HOARTY: No, we didn’t get into that. We had some pay TV services, but they were the kind that brought tapes and that sort of thing.

KELLER: Bicycled the tapes around.

HOARTY: Bicycled the tapes.

KELLER: Did you take the HBO service at that time?

HOARTY: No, that came a little later.

KELLER: HBO had a revolving service at one time, too.

HOARTY: They had a tape cycling service, too.

KELLER: Then they went microwave throughout parts of Pennsylvania, upstate New York and so on before they went on satellite. Your system in Buckeye didn’t receive HBO until after it went on the satellite, is that correct?

HOARTY: I think that’s correct. Buckeye is now a very big system. I think it’s over 150,000 subscribers. I’m not up to date on that. I’ve been out of cable for eight years, by the way. I was there for the first 30,000 subscribers. They made great advances after I left. I’m proud of the planning we did, which made for a big system but a lot of that came after I left.

KELLER: What kind of amplifiers were you using in the system?

HOARTY: Oak, I think. Oak, Jerrold, maybe. I know for sure Jerrold. I remember Mr. Malone was selling for them at one time, now one of the famous names in…

KELLER: He was president of Jerrold Corporation. How many channels were the maximum number that you carried while you were in the Toledo system?

HOARTY: I think it was under 24.

KELLER: Twelve on each cable?

HOARTY: Yeah, but we had a few blanks for lack of product.

KELLER: When you went to a single cable then, and of course converters had come in by that time, I would think, how many did you carry then? Just the twelve or were your amplifiers capable of going higher than that?

HOARTY: Most of the conversion came after I left, but it took some time to do that. I really don’t have a schedule of how they built out but they built up as the industry did, as the converters became more and more useful and reliable and more and more services came in, they built up to as many as anybody had.

KELLER: While you were at Buckeye you also became associated with industry associations, the Ohio Association, the Mid-Atlantic or Great Lakes Association, and you were also on the board of the NCTA for at least one term if not more, is that correct?

HOARTY: Yes, I belonged to the OCTA, the Ohio Cable Television Association, and rose to be president, and then I got elected on the NCTA board. The only part about that that I was very proud of, at the time I was the first NCTA board member that was elected by his peers, that is the systems of that region, and that was a new idea that NCTA came out with. I wasn’t a big-time owner of a cable system. I was really a small fry. In fact, I wonder why you had me on this program.

KELLER: Well, I think that will become obvious as we go on.

HOARTY: I enjoyed being on that board for a few years and one of the nice things I remember was voting for the introduction of C-SPAN and Brian Lamb. In fact, I was envious of him. I thought, wow, what an idea! I still think he’s the best person…

KELLER: Why did he come to the NCTA?

HOARTY: He was looking for a sponsor.

KELLER: He didn’t find it at NCTA.

HOARTY: At first. But he did down the road, and I’m happy to say that I voted for him. It was a great idea. It was a fantastic idea and he’s developed it into something… I don’t know what we’d do without it in the industry.

KELLER: Do you remember anything else of major importance that went through the board while you were on it?

HOARTY: Yes. At the time we had a ban on pay TV. Pay TV was locked up, Hollywood was hanging on to its movies and deathly afraid of cable. NCTA for some reason politically didn’t want to do what I wanted to do, which was to publish some letters to the President, Nixon, asking him to free up pay TV. It was a crying shame that the movies were being withheld for selfish reasons from cable and cable needed the movies to fill in the gaps that we spoke of earlier. So I borrowed $15,000 personally and I ran a letter to President Nixon in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and some magazines and I got maybe 100 cable companies and individuals in the United States to sign the letter and chip in to help me pay back the $15,000 loan.

KELLER: Now, when you say free up pay television, did you mean for the broadcasters to free up their product, or for the FCC to allow you to carry a pay television operation?

HOARTY: Both. We wanted Hollywood to let go of the films, we wanted the FCC to relax the rules so we could carry it. NCTA wanted that. In fact, after I finished this, and I think it was a successful campaign, John Gwin personally gave me…

KELLER: John Gwin was with Cox at the time, right?

HOARTY: Yes, and he was our chairman…

KELLER: He was chairman of the NCTA?

HOARTY: Right, and he congratulated me and the board on this little project and thought it was very successful. A funny thing happened. At the time I published this letter and it was all over the place in 48 hours, the actual letter I never mailed. There was a personal reason – I was ticked off at the Vietnam War, I was ticked off at President Nixon, I was not a Republican to start with, I was a Democrat, and I just didn’t mail the letter. I published the letter but I didn’t mail it. Later, at a dinner party in Washington, one of the NCTA officers introduced me to a White House person, a lower level White House person, who said, “Leo, I had a question I want to ask you. Remember that letter?” I said, “Yeah, I do.” He said, “We never could find the letter. What happened to the letter?” I said, “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe it.” He said, “How about if I guess.” I said, “Okay.” He said, “We analyzed it because we had to give an answer and we analyzed that you never mailed the letter.” I said, “You’re absolutely correct.” But it shows you how smart they are. They figured it out.

KELLER: Were you discussing copyright on the board at that time? Whether or not the industry should pay copyright?

HOARTY: Oh, yeah. That was a big issue, that was a big issue. So was rate regulation.

KELLER: Let’s stay one at a time. I want to get on rate regulation, but let’s stay on copyright. At that time there was a battle going on, we’d already been told that we were not liable to pay copyright payments to the broadcasters. That had already been determined by the Supreme Court however, and tell me whether or not I’m correct in this assumption, the movie producers would not let their product go, nor would some of the other program producers of television let their product go, until they were paid copyright. So it’s my theory, and I think a lot of people agree with me, that without copyright we probably never would have gotten as far as we did into the multitude of programming that we were able to achieve.

HOARTY: I agree with you. I was amazed at how it came out. I thought we were going to be stuck with a much higher copyright fee than we did. I think I was the same was most of the industry – I was very amazed. I thought they really had us on that one, but it worked out.

KELLER: Well, the copyright tribunal and the single payment into the tribunal who then distributed it made it a whole lot easier. I think. Would you agree with that?

HOARTY: I agree. Yes.

KELLER: Now, the rate regulation, go into that.

HOARTY: Well, let me talk about rates. I differ with the industry in general. I thought we always charged too much. I said it before, I’ve said it at NCTA meetings. In fact, I once gave a little talk and I had a pretty good audience, about 500 showed up for this, and I said, “Would you pay me $50 cash, right now, if I promised to pay you back $5 a month for the rest of my life?” And a couple hands were raised, and one guy said, “Well, do I have to stay alive for 20…” I said, “It doesn’t matter whether you die or not, you are theoretically a customer. When you move, someone will move in. If you sell the house, somebody will buy it. Would you pay me $50 for a promise of $5 a month for the rest of my life?” And a lot of hands went up. I said, “I think that we overcharge as an industry.” We were charging $5 a month at Buckeye. Later they raised it and I didn’t like that, but they raised it.


HOARTY: For our general service, yes. When I look back on it… Well, my argument then was we could do a better job of attracting customers, and one of the things of course I did and everybody else did – free installs. Free installs for basic cable, free installs for extra outlets. Just last week, I have a friend – I’m talking about this month – I have a friend who told me that he was offered $200 cash if he’d come back on Sprint, his telephone service. Evidently they found out it was worth it to get him back because he’d pay that back in 3 or 4 or 5 months. I notice the automobile industry has a cash back thing. But at the time I felt we were charging too much and that we should pay more attention to lower rates and more incentives to come on cable. Free service – I advocated giving a month free, maybe a month and a half free, and it worked in some cases. I later got to test those ideas out elsewhere and we didn’t do that at Buckeye.

KELLER: You didn’t? You didn’t do any of those programs?

HOARTY: Well, I did some, but we never gave upfront prizes or anything like that. We did give free installs.

KELLER: How about pre-wiring homes in new subdivisions?

HOARTY: Yes, we did some of that. Yes, we did. That was something we like to do.

KELLER: What were your other innovative marketing ideas that you used?

HOARTY: Well, let me look at a couple of notes here. Most of the ideas were to improve service. We did a lot of door-to-door canvassing, of course, and we did a lot of direct mail. I didn’t like telephoning, I still don’t. I hate to receive those calls, and I’m no different… I think most people hate them. But we had to do them. We had to do some of it. The key, though, is good service, keeping that customer on. If you can reduce the churn, the disconnects in your system, you’ve got it made. If you’ve got reasonable service, you’re going to keep customers. Most people are reasonable. They’ll stay on a three-hour outage if it’s an ice storm and everything’s knocked out, they understand that. But they don’t understand it if it happens during the World Series game or a New Year’s Day football game. I think the main thing we did was service in producing sales.

KELLER: You felt that was primarily the reason you did so well? 52% penetration at that time in that market was extraordinary.

HOARTY: It was good, yes it was. I’m very proud of that. What is the industry at today? I’m eight years behind.

KELLER: The industry is 60-65% overall.

HOARTY: Considering the satellite competition that’s not bad.

KELLER: That is declining a bit at the present time, but not substantially. Most companies are weathering the competition of the satellite company. I think there’s a place for both and there will always be a service there, but cable has become, and I think you’ll agree with me on this, cable has become more than just a movie delivery service or a broadcast station delivery service, it’s become a communications method, a method of distributing internet and high-speed transmission and so on. These are things that cannot very well be done by satellite. They can be done but not on the basis or the extent they can be done on a wired system. I think you would agree with that.

HOARTY: One of the things we did – I know this will sound very, very impossible – but we sent a hand-written letter to every prospect in our system one year. I think the year was ’69, it may have been ’70, and it took me a year to do it, but I did them by hand, and it was very effective.

KELLER: You wrote out an individual letter…?

HOARTY: I made it into a valentine. I figured a woman would open it if it looked like a valentine, and if the husband got to the mail first, he’d want to know who sent the valentine. So my theme was we love you and we want to get involved and so forth, but the outside of it was strictly a valentine, and it did work. That was one new idea we had.

KELLER: Did you ever hire a marketing company to assist you?

HOARTY: I did, and I’m trying to think of the name of the company. It was out of San Francisco. I can’t recall…

KELLER: Marc Van Loucks?

HOARTY: Someone associated with him, yes. A lady, and I’m very embarrassed I can’t remember the name.

KELLER: Lisa, she used to work for Mark, I can’t remember her last name. She came out of the Van Loucks organization. Jeff Marcus was…

HOARTY: Yes, that’s right. That’s who it was. You nailed it. Of course you know as much about this as I do. You’ve been in it just as long, haven’t you?

KELLER: I think so. Let’s say that you had everything pretty well established going in Ohio, in Toledo – why did you leave Buckeye and what did you do when you did?

HOARTY: Oh boy, that’s a good question. Well, number one, I wasn’t very smart and I stayed there too long. I really should have been in business for myself and that’s what I eventually did. Phil Church who was another Ohio cable operator, several years before I left Buckeye he said, “Leo, you should quit and we should go after some franchises and start a cable system.” I had seven children, a good number of them were in high school and college by that time and I was a little reluctant to get started. But I was in business before I went to work for Buckeye and I really should have done that earlier. Anyway, in 1974, I had an offer I thought I couldn’t refuse although it wasn’t very smart of me and I moved to San Jose and took over as maybe their 25th or 26th manager.

KELLER: Al Gilliland’s system?

HOARTY: Mr. Al Gilliland, yeah. He had a big problem. He was trying to raise something like 8 million dollars and he had a deadline – he had to get his customer count from I think it was from 41,000 to 52,000 subscribers and we had nine months to do it. It was a do or die thing, and he had to have that loan and it was based on the growth being there. So I went out there and we did achieve it. I didn’t get the bonus I expected and that was the last time I ever worked for a cable company because from that moment on I went in business for myself.

KELLER: Tell me a little bit about the San Jose market. How did that differ from Toledo?

HOARTY: Oh, it was a fantastic market. It was a very big, sprawling system. I can’t remember the mileage now but it was two or three times Toledo. It had a terrible churn, like 4 or 5 percent a month or something. It was high, it was very high. So the first thing we had to do was stop the churn because it ate up almost all that you could do in selling and connecting. They had a backlog. I made a list up for Mr. Gilliland on a pad like this and it took about five or six pages, just items, that had to be corrected and he didn’t like it, and I don’t blame him. I presented that to him on the first meeting that we had…

KELLER: But he knew something had to be done.

HOARTY: Oh, yes, he did. Yeah.

KELLER: He didn’t like the fact that you showed him what had to be done, even though you were hired to do that.

HOARTY: He did not like it. Another thing he didn’t like, he didn’t like my being on the NCTA board and he said if you want to stay here, you’ve got to get off the board. So I had to resign from the board.

KELLER: Why was that?

HOARTY: He didn’t want to pay the dues, he didn’t like it. He later became a board member and I think he got to like NCTA and became one of the leaders of NCTA.

KELLER: And how long did you stay at San Jose?

HOARTY: Just a year.

KELLER: Just a year there.

HOARTY: When I achieved this goal, it was goodbye Charlie.

KELLER: And as you said, that was the last job you took in the industry.

HOARTY: Yeah, I did not want to work for a cable company. The cable industry’s been very good to me but that…

KELLER: We’re going to get into how you developed your own company and how you did it and where you did it in the next segment. Leo, after you spent about a year in San Jose and in nine months increased the system from roughly 41,000 to 52,000+ subscribers and you told us that that was your last job and you made a termination at that time – that was the last time you were going to work for a company or corporation – what did you do then?

HOARTY: I listened to the advice of my old friend, Phil Church, and went in business for myself, and I found a company called Cable Communications Consultants.

KELLER: That rings a bell.

HOARTY: It rings a bell because you had a company by the same name. I went to work as a contractor for an old friend, Ray Joslin, who was then managing Sacramento, California.

KELLER: For Continental?

HOARTY: For Continental. I met Ray when he was managing the Findlay, Ohio cable system. By the way, he was the president of OCTA right before me.

KELLER: That’s the Ohio Cable Television Association?

HOARTY: Right. And I tried to hire Ray Joslin one day and I didn’t succeed. I wish I had because he’s a brilliant man. Later on we did other business, but right now…

KELLER: Excuse me. Ray Joslin is currently the president of the Hearst Corporation cable operations.

HOARTY: The last I contacted him he was, but he may have started his own business.

KELLER: As of the last time I talked to him, because I did his oral history, so that’s just parenthetically who Ray is.

HOARTY: So Ray said, “Okay, I have a problem. Leo, would you come to Sacramento and train my sales manager and kind of reorganize my sales department and start a little sales campaign?” And I did that for a few months as a contractor, and then I popped around California doing cable audits…

KELLER: Subscriber audits.

HOARTY: Subscriber audits, marketing, hired some installers, rented some trucks, did some installs, servicing. I started a little company that grew rather well and I started doing jobs all over the country. One time I got a contract with Rollins – they had wired up two-thirds of Delaware and they needed a campaign…

KELLER: In Dover?

HOARTY: They were all around, about two-thirds of the state was Rollins Cable at one time, and Dover was one but there were quite a few others. That contract alone grossed me about a million and a half dollars before I was finished. It went over a several year period. I did rather well in that business. Then I had the idea that I wanted to really listen to Phil Church’s advice and go after franchises and I began…

KELLER: The year, ’73-’74?

HOARTY: This was ’75, ’76, right. So I began applying for franchises but I didn’t have any money. Although I was paid well as a manager with seven children and college and all that, I didn’t have much money. I had less than $5,000. But I had built the business up a little bit and I was doing all right. So I had the idea of going to some of my old broadcast contacts and seeing if I can raise some money. I went to Blackhawk Broadcasting, a Midwest firm that was doing rather well in radio, but they hadn’t gone into cable and I talked them into letting me borrow their P&L sheet to show to franchise authorities and made a deal with them that we would start up a company, go after franchises, I would have 20%, they would have 80% which was kind of standard in those days, and they said, “Sure.” So they let me borrow their P&L statements and gave me a nice letter and I went off by myself applying for franchises.

KELLER: Where?

HOARTY: Mainly, at the time, in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and that was about it. But I had no more than gotten started than they called up and said, “Leo, the deal’s off.” I said, “Why? What did I do wrong?” They said, “Well, we couldn’t tell you at the time but we’ve been negotiating and we’ve been bought out by a big insurance company and we told them about your project,” at that time I was in Lake Forest, Illinois, “and they said they want nothing to do with the Chicago mob, so the deal’s off. Cancel our participation.” So I had to go back to the various city councils that I’d applied to and tell them that I didn’t have my sponsor but I would soon replace them. That cost me several franchise applications, you can imagine. I then turned to a famous name in the industry, Bill Daniels, and I told him I needed his help, I wanted to find a company that would replace Blackhawk as my partner. He agreed. My goal was to go after a very famous company, a broadcast company, Capital Cities, which was founded by Lowell Thomas and headed at that time by Tom Murphy. We met with Mr. Murphy, talked him into agreeing to this deal. Bill Daniels vouched for me as far as knowing the business and a person of character, and it turned out that they did replace my former partners and we went back to the city councils and we did win a few of them although we lost a few. That was the beginning of what was called Omnicom – I had two companies, one called Omnicom of Illinois and one called Omnicom of Michigan. In Illinois we won Highwood, we won Highland Park, Deerfield franchises.

KELLER: Highland Park is a high-end suburb of Chicago.

HOARTY: High-end, very high-end. It turned out to be a very difficult system.

KELLER: All underground, isn’t it?

HOARTY: All underground, a very demanding, very upper-scale income people, and it was a very tough one. It was one that Cap Cities was almost sorry they got into. It was a difficult one. It was successful as a business but it was a pain. A lot more time had to be poured into it, a lot more time, money, than normal.

KELLER: And the number of homes per mile would be so small.

HOARTY: Oh, it wasn’t the greatest. It was good but it wasn’t the greatest. In Michigan we went after Plymouth, Michigan – that was the first franchise we won – and then Canton, Canton Township, Plymouth Township, Belleville, Hamtramck, and Northville. Hamtramck is a little city, only 10,000 people, inside of Detroit. That was not a smart move; that was a difficult one – pure industry and factory workers. Again, why we picked that one, I don’t know but it worked out. I also, before I got Cap Cities, I applied for a little town in Tennessee and I got it. I didn’t build it, though. I found myself too involved elsewhere and I sold it over the telephone. I’m almost embarrassed about that one. But at that time, that’s the way some franchises were granted. I got another few franchises in Indiana, which we sold to another company. So that’s how I got into the franchising cable development business and it worked out very nicely. Cap Cities decided they wanted to acquire ABC and they sold all their systems to the Washington Post, Katharine Graham’s company. She was a friend of Cap Cities and took that over and then Cap Cities, later ABC was acquired by Disney, and of course the Washington Post still have their cable systems and it’s grown into quite a company.

KELLER: Then you didn’t stay with them?

HOARTY: No, when Cap Cities sold out and I was paid off and I was out of it – I actually didn’t work for Cap Cities, I was a consultant and partner – and at that time I decided to become a cable broker. I was quite amazed to find out that there was no license to be a cable broker, unlike a real estate broker. There was no board of directors to report to. You just did it, and I began representing buyers and sellers in cable TV, which was a very interesting part of the business.

KELLER: How did you obtain your clients, both buyers and sellers?

HOARTY: That’s an interesting question. I remember one client, a very strange deal – I telephoned another broker who also owned the cable system and I said, “I’d like to sell your cable system for you.” He said, “Leo, you’re crazy. You don’t need the business.” I said, “Yeah, I do and that’s why I want to do it. I think I can get a better price for your system than you can because people will think you’re very bias since you’re a broker and you own the cable system. If I go in, I’m a third party, I can do a better job for you.” He said, “You know, I think you’re right,” and I went ahead and sold the system for him. Another unusual case, I had a cable system in North Carolina – I moved to Raleigh, by the way, in 1981, Raleigh, North Carolina…

KELLER: Where we are today.

HOARTY: This cable system, which is not too far from here, we were at lunch one day and I was trying to get him to let me sell his main system. He said, “Leo, I don’t want to sell my system. I want to buy my neighbor.” I said, “Why don’t you?” He said, “We don’t talk to each other. He’s a no good oh-oh-oh…” and so I said, “Well, that’s why you need a broker.” And he said, “If you can get him to sell, I’ll buy.” So I went over and talked to the other person and told him who I represented. I said, “I know you two guys don’t talk but I’m an independent broker,” and I told him my credentials. I bought that system for this other cable system. One of the most interesting and most prolonged deals I ever did was for my old friend, Ray Joslin, who we mentioned earlier. I was representing a group of systems that surround San Juan, Puerto Rico, and our negotiations with Ray and his associates, it took three years and we finally closed the deal. It was a sizeable deal, in the upper teens of millions and we had a celebration party. We declared it was the longest running negotiation in history and it probably was. Cable deals usually moved a lot quicker than that. Also, I got into some international work, did some surveys in Guatemala and Costa Rica, and I sold some systems in the Dominican Republic – places I had never been before.

KELLER: How’s your Spanish?

HOARTY: Very, very poor. Very poor. But I didn’t need to speak Spanish. Very truthfully, I was dealing mostly with people who spoke English and where I needed translation I hired it. In the case of the Dominican Republic, I had a system there I sold in Santo Domingo twice. The first buyers…

KELLER: Two commissions, huh?

HOARTY: The first buyers failed to build the system and the seller took back his franchise and what was there and said, “Leo, go sell it again.” So I sold it again to somebody who built it and built it right.

KELLER: But weren’t you doing other things other than just brokering or were you just simply in the brokerage business?

HOARTY: No, I did some consulting work. A law firm, and I really can’t go into details of this, but a law firm was representing a converter company, a manufacturer – one that I had used in my business dealings. They were being sued by a cable system that wasn’t happy with their converter and that was a sticky wicket, and they had been battling this out for several years, two or three years. The law firm said, “We got a recommendation on you from somebody, NCTA or somebody, and what we want you to do is come in and start reading. We have a roomful of paper and it’s dragged on so long and with turnover and other problems we’ve kind of lost track of the case. We don’t know whether we’ve got a winner or a loser. So your job will be to tell us if we have a winner or a loser and give us some advice on how to settle this thing.” So for a very good fee I was allowed to work at home and read and study case after case of books of the various depositions, and then we went to deposition and I surmised that the company – my employer, the law firm’s client – was right and that he should not settle but let’s enter into depositions and the lawsuit. After a few depositions, the cable company and the two law firms, they settled for one dollar. My client was very happy, saved 60 million dollars. I got a very fat check and I was very pleased. Also I could work at home. I did some of that work; I did arbitration. I got listed with the Arbitration Association and I participated in several arbitrations.

KELLER: For values of systems, is that it?

HOARTY: Values of systems, disputes. I represented a dispute between some systems around Newark, New Jersey.

KELLER: See, you were with the mob!

HOARTY: Mentioning the illegalities, I’d like to say this: I was very proud of my association with Cap Cities, for instance. The chairman said, “We will not pay one dollar under the table. There was an awful lot of under the table deals in franchising.”

KELLER: See, I dispute that.

HOARTY: I think so.

KELLER: I dispute that.

HOARTY: You may. But I was under orders, “Don’t you ever buy one of those deals.” And then there were some above the table deals, as they are today, I think. There are not many franchises around.

KELLER: A lot of franchise renegotiations.

HOARTY: Renegotiations, and it’s above the table. I’d like to ask you a question.

KELLER: This is your interview.

HOARTY: You can’t do it, okay.

KELLER: I can, but I won’t.

HOARTY: I understand.

KELLER: How many arbitrations did you become involved in?

HOARTY: Three or four, three or four.

KELLER: Have you done much work with law firms?

HOARTY: Not too much, but to answer another question of yours, I did a lot of evaluations and it’s something I did fairly well. I got into computers about 21 years ago and I developed a 900 line program so you could input every aspect of a cable TV system, every aspect of it. If I thought of a new one I added it. That gave me a lot of business. Evaluations were a tough thing. I even worked for a telephone company on one evaluation. I never thought I’d work for a telephone company.

KELLER: Neither did I until I did.

HOARTY: I evaluated a system in South Carolina, by the way, for a phone company.

KELLER: Well, when you were brokering, you had to do the evaluation for the value of it anyhow, didn’t you, before you put a price on it which was agreeable to the seller?

HOARTY: Oh, sure. And of course personal recommendations go a long way in this business. One of my wonderful friends, Bill Bresnan’s company, I guess I did 15, maybe 20 evaluations or appraisals or marketing studies or something for different cities that at that time that company represented.

KELLER: Did you make a distinction between an evaluation and an appraisal?

HOARTY: Yes, yes, yes. It would be hard for me to recall all the distinctions, but there is a distinction there because the industry in general appraised things and then the evaluations were more detailed, a lot more detailed.

KELLER: So which would you use if you were setting a price on a system to be sold?

HOARTY: I would like to do every one I could.

KELLER: I mean which one of those two, an appraisal or an evaluation would you do for a system that you had obtained to sell?

HOARTY: I think I would do both but I would prefer an evaluation in detail. I’ll give you another interesting thing I did. One time one of the TelePrompTer system managers was driving on his way to a regional meeting of managers to set up budgets and he was killed in an automobile crash. The police impounded the car because it had an accident with somebody that was running drugs and they impounded both cars. So the job the regional manager put me on, he said, “Go visit his systems. He had 17 systems, and see if you can put together – very quickly – a proposed sales budget for those systems based on what records you can find because everything’s locked up in his car and we can’t get to it. That was one of the little unhappy, sad things, but an unusual type of thing I did. I visited his systems…

KELLER: Were you able to determine cash flow?

HOARTY: I did a fair job for them. They were very pleased. I know this, Mr. President offered me a job one time and I’m sorry I turned it down. It was one of those times after I quit working for cable systems but he made me an offer, I think it was for Oakland, California, and I wasn’t interested. But he certainly was an interesting man; I think one of the great leaders.

KELLER: Who was this?

HOARTY: Bill Bresnan.

KELLER: Bill Bresnan – still is!

HOARTY: Still is, yes.

KELLER: He’s the chairman of The Cable Center.

HOARTY: I had a lot of other experiences but mostly in the last years I was doing brokering.

KELLER: If you were to do it all over again, what changes would you make in your career?

HOARTY: I would have quit as a manager and gone into business earlier. That would be the main one. Also, I think I would be a little more careful in my contracts. I was a person that really ignored contracts. One time I made a deal with one of the Rollins managers – a little side issue – and we wrote it on a napkin. He said if you’ll do so-and-so, I’ll give you so-and-so, and I just made a note on the napkin and I did the thing – it was about a year later – and I took the napkin and said, “Do you remember this?” He said, “Sure do.” And he paid me right off the bat. Most of my brokerage deals were, believe it or not, verbal. I was dealing with that kind of deal, people that trusted me and I trusted them, but if I had it to do over again, if I could start from scratch, it would be on paper in great detail. I think that was one of my weaknesses.

KELLER: You had a handshake mentality, huh?

HOARTY: A handshake mentality was not smart. Also, I had a client that died in the middle of a deal and anything can happen. I learned the hard way.

KELLER: Would you have gotten into the cable industry, do you think, once you’d been associated with it in any form? Would you have stayed in the cable business?

HOARTY: Yes. In fact, during my broadcast days I used to read broadcasting magazines. It was the only thing I read, and cable was buried in the back, little FCC notices, and I hardly knew anything about it even though I was in radio eight years. I told John Campbell when he hired me, I said, “I need some help. You got a manual?” He said, “No, you’re going to have to go out and find out about the industry,” because the industry was just not well-known.

KELLER: So you helped write the book.

HOARTY: I did help write the Cox book.

KELLER: And that serves as one of the reasons that we’re interviewing you now.

HOARTY: Oh, thank you. And a copy of that book Cap Cities published for me, which we sold, we sold a good number of them, it was an operating manual.

KELLER: Do we have a copy of that in The Center?

HOARTY: No, but I will get you one. I have one. I think I’m down to two.

KELLER: I think we should have one.

HOARTY: O.D. Page was my editor, if you remember him, and John Vobrek was the president of my company. John’s deceased now – he was president of our Illinois company.

KELLER: Before we wrap this up, is there anything else that you want to add to this discussion?

HOARTY: Well, I appreciate being invited. I was amazed that you would ask me. I’m not a cable pioneer. There are some wonderful people in this industry I greatly admired. They’re all well-known and saluted in the industry, but I can remember being very impressed with so many – Mr. Hostetter, he was a success from the get-go, and I mentioned two or three others, but a lot of them helped me out, gave me business, gave me advice. John Willey was one of the finest men I ever worked for.

KELLER: President of the Blade Company, right?

HOARTY: Right. I still communicate with him and I hope you’ll interview him.

KELLER: I hope, too. Leo, I think it’s about time that we wrap this thing up. I’m delighted that we had the opportunity to visit and I think your story is going to be well-received in the archives of The Cable Center. This has been the oral history of Leo Hoarty, in my opinion an entrepreneur extraordinaire and an innovator in everything he’s ever touched. This interview will be eventually on the website of The Cable Center and I very much appreciate you talking with us, Leo. Thank you very much.

HOARTY: Thank you.

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