SCTE Panel 2 – The Middle Years

scte logo blue195

Panelists: Tom Gorman and Rickey Luke
Interview Date: Thursday October 18, 2012
Interview Location: Orlando, FL
Interviewer: Lela Cocoros

COCOROS: Hi, I’m Lela Cocoros and we are at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Orlando, Florida. It is October 18, 2012 and I’m here to talk about SCTE’s history with Tom Gorman, who is principle of opXL and with Rickey Luke, who is a cable technologist from a long time back and a stalwart in the industry. So good afternoon gentlemen and thank you for joining us today. So we’d like to start out just by asking you a little bit about your own personal experiences in SCTE and how you got started and how you got involved in the organization, so Tom, why don’t you lead us off here.

GORMAN: My start in the industry was in 1976 and kind of grew up in that old fashion way of starting installing and working my way up through the ranks. It was probably around the 1980 time frame that I heard about SCTE and my first thought was, well it’s for engineers and I’m not, I’m just a cable guy. But quickly found out that it was available. So in 1982, I actually became a member of SCTE. Through that there wasn’t any meetings that were close by. I was in in the Baltimore/Washington area. So with a couple of other folks we put together a group of people and created a meeting group which evolved eventually into what is now the Chesapeake Chapter of SCTE. So I was its first president right there in the early ‘80s as well. Just been involved with it ever since.

LUKE: Well, I started in the industry in 1973 and Storer Communications kind of acquired my little small company probably in about 1975 and basically, I met Harold Null in 1976 and he just grabbed me and said “Hey you going to the meeting?” and so the next thing I know we’re at the regional meeting out in San Francisco kind of going through it. So that was my introduction in to it and as a result of that, Storer was a good company. They were always actively participating in the SCTE. We went through a few different things, like with the aeronautical channels and things of that nature. We kind of grew through it. So I was just very fortunate that I had a good group of people working with me and I just went to the SCTE thing with those at local chapter levels and we just kept from there.

COCOROS: So in the early ‘80s, is it 1983 when the first Cable-Tec Expo was held. Did you both attend that first one?

GORMAN: I didn’t go to my first one until the late ‘80s. Just because of where I was with in my company and its ability to go do those things at that point in time, so it took me a little while before I was able to get to one and I haven’t missed one since then.

LUKE: I honestly don’t know. That’s a long time back. I was there, I remember working with Bill Riker and a lot of early ones, doing that and going from there. Sally Kinsman, I think, might have been involved in that one because she did a lot of design work. So it was good from that standpoint. It seemed like I was in a position where they still kind of pushed me to go to them and I was pretty active in them from that standpoint.

COCOROS: So can you tell us any good stories about your experiences at the Expo over the years or the ones you can share with us today.

LUKE: I don’t have any I really want to tell you. (Laughter)

GORMAN: I think for me it was kid in the candy shop kind of thing. It was this first experience of seeing all of this stuff. There weren’t MSOs to speak of so you were still learning from the guys at the cable company in the next county or next town and so it was…that’s what made SCTE so cool was that it was, it became a fraternity of sorts. It was this group of people, all with this common interest and all eager and desperate to learn what was out there. So you walk into a convention center hall with booth after booth of all of this stuff that you were not exposed to because you were just doing what your company has, that was the greatest thing in the world. You know, I call this; it’s like going to Cheers nowadays because everyone knows your name. You’ve been at it for so long. You go every year and you see the same friends. Rickey and I will catch up. We won’t see each other for a whole year but we’ll catch up at this and that’s what makes it such a great thing.

LUKE: Really when you get down to it, these conventions, Cable-Tec Expo and things like that are just phenomenal for the chance to network and then at the same time, you’d just rather get to so many vendors that we have in our industry and talk to them. And then you have other companies…this is a small industry; everybody knows what everybody’s doing. So if everybody knows what you are doing, what not teach some people and let them learn about it. So it’s a great learning opportunity when they do the tutorial sessions and things of that nature. So it’s good there. You know, I beat up on our vendors all the time but God bless them, if it wasn’t for those guys coming and listening to what we had to do and what we were trying to do, it would just be a whole different world. So it’s a great group we work with.

COCOROS: So it’s a really good combination of the vendor side and also the operator side kind of coming together?

LUKE: One without the other, you can’t have one without the other.

COCOROS: That’s great. So, do have any experience or knowledge about, there is a magazine out there called the Interval?

GORMAN: I don’t know what is that?

LUKE: Is that that piece of paper they used to send out every bi-monthly or something like that? (Laughter)

COCOROS: Can you tell us a little bit about it and how it helped the membership?

GORMAN: The Interval was kind of the first publication that was coming out on a regular basis from SCTE, if I recall correctly. So, it was something that kind of what was going on in the industry. Something that started letting people know that there was something outside of their own area of what was going on in the world. You heard about other cable companies and what they were doing. Today it’s electronic. Those kind of things are coming out via e-magazine formats of course. It’s just always been there, kind of a product of SCTE that’s been there for members.

COCOROS: So helpful hints and best practices and here’s what this system is doing?

GORMAN: Yeah, and there are things that have grown out of there. Remember DigiPoints and some of those other publications?

LUKE: You bet, yeah. [?]kind of spun off of it. I remember the first one we got, it was a piece of paper that was folded over so this was the front, middle, back and it was like bam that was it. But it’s good about giving updates about what’s happening in the industry and technical tidbits and where you can be to see what’s going on. Like Tom said, it’s now, I haven’t seen a physical copy but I do get the electronic version but maybe it’s because I’m moving around a lot but it’s good updating. It used to be where it got to one point where it was bi-monthly, then it became monthly and now I believe it’s quarterly. I may be mistaken there.

GORMAN: But it’s all electronic now. There’s not….

COCOROS: Yes, Newsweek is now going totally digital as of the first of the year or something like that. It’s still content. You know, it’s just writing on a different channel. So let’s talk a little bit about the industry standards, that part of SCTE that evolved into being the standard setter for the industry. The technical standards. Were you involved in any of that? So, talk us through the importance of that for SCTE.

LUKE: From a – I think it came out in ’95, if I’m not mistaken, it started off with the DOCSIS standard which was very instrumental in taking a cable modem from $600 down to the day where we’re at $37 and everybody can spit them out. You can get phenomenal bandwidth and that’s just growing. That group had done a phenomenal job and the reason why I say this is just because I’ve been involved with it. The digital video standards has been another one that has taken off and then of course, there’s another group – and I’m not getting them all by any shape or means, but just an HFC type of one that has the specifications and everything for a simple thing like cable connectors and cable sizes and things of that nature. And then there’s another one that’s getting into systems, how you can use systems to maintain your networks and become more progressive and fix problems that crop up a lot faster. Those are just some of them off of the top of my head. I just remember and I go back before the standards were ever there, Rex Porter, Harold Null and those guys were sitting there and they were just trying to standardize on just a cable and a cable connector. So when you put the cable on the connector, it would stay there because we would have suck outs and all kinds of things like that. We had diaphone cable that you know just sucked water through it and nobody hears about those kinds of things, so that in itself has taken over and it’s been a real exciting time for us. Tom, help out with this some more.

GORMAN: Well, there’s a couple of things that were great. First of all, just the creation standards was necessary but SCTE is a great vehicle to create the standards because a lot of technology, a lot of the specs might come out of CableLabs. CableLabs is not a standard making body and cannot be by their makeup and that’s an ASCII requirement that it must be an open organization so SCTE allows anybody to be members and CableLabs is kind of specific to the MSO space. So they can’t really create standards. So a lot of that work is handed off to SCTE to turn into a standard for some of the higher tech things and then it gets down to the interfaces, so those are the connectors. That type of thing. All the way to how we insert digital advertising. So it runs a whole gamut of physical to high-end technical types of standards. Probably the best thing that we’ve done is we’ve taken cost out of our industry’s result. We’ve commoditized a lot of things. You think about the DOCSIS thing, Rickey’s talking about, there was a day at the Western Cable Show in the late 90s where they had a whole hall just dedicated to high-speed internet and it was 30 different manufacturers with 30 different ways to do this. There was, it was pretty crazy and everyone trying to be the standard without ever thinking we need to all kind of think how to work together. So, it drove that cost way up because we were paying that $600 a modem back in the day.

LUKE: One thing about the standards is every company can be a member. One company, one vote. Everybody’s equal. They all have a thing, so if there’s a company that’s not a member of the standards body; they definitely ought to be.

COCOROS: And then the other thing that SCTE is known for is obviously training and development and certification programs. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and how they’ve changed over the years?

GORMAN: Well, SCTE from one point kind of almost looked like NCTI. So they’re developing a lot of training programs and that sort of thing and had to go and say we’re not really training so much as we are standards and certification. So let’s prove that we have the knowledge, let’s go and let a company like NCTI for example, let them develop the content and training. At the same time as the cable operators were developing their own. So Comcast, they have Comtech. Charter, Charter University. They have these varying — all the companies have some learning organization now. So they do that work. What SCTE chose to do is let’s let people prove what they know by doing it in a certification methodology. So there’s a whole program from broadband premises installer up to internet professional engineering of certifications available for members to take advantage of. And those become things that are transferrable between companies so that’s a really great benefit that anybody can take with them. So it correlates to what the training that’s in anyone of the cable operators and that’s something, those are taken advantage of are definitely improving their careers as a result and then it’s a benefit to the companies that they go work for. So everyone kind of wins on those deals.

LUKE: I did their certification program for the broadband certified engineer and at that point in time I thought when I got through with it, it kind of had like this same designation as say a professional engineer. Well, it wasn’t totally recognized outside the cable industry but it’s a good tool inside the cable industry. But what, I have to applaud our senior membership, our board of directors, and guys on the SCTE and I’ll throw this one back at Daniel Howard (?). Now what they’ve done, if you got any certification, you can take them and roll them into a college degree program. That is great. So they’ve done that so number one, not only are they doing certification testing, they’re continually updating and keeping pace with the industry, but they’ve also put together a program that will allow you to get a bachelor’s degree in communications or even keep working from there, from that standpoint. So I have to really applaud our industry from that standpoint or the SCTE.

GORMAN: As a matter of fact, for years SCTE was kind of seen as blue collar organization. Frontline guys in trucks kind of organization. What’s happened over the last few years of being on the board of directors over the last few years and some of the changes we’ve made in leadership there, we’ve changed a lot of our focus to go and get, let’s get to the middle manager, let’s get to the senior and executive management levels now, so there’s even programs with Dartmouth, Tuck Institute for example for executive leadership development. University of Georgia. There’s good stuff for executive levels as well to keep their skills sharp in leading the industry. The SCTE has done a great thing from bottom to top.

COCOROS: Right, the entire spectrum. Also, the industry’s technology has become so much more complex with all the products and services, so the organization has to stay up on top of all of this. Great. I wanted to ask a little bit, you mentioned Sally Kinsman before and she was elected as the first female officer of SCTE in 1983. Do you think it’s been difficult for women to break into this industry or how do you see the women coming into the business?

GORMAN: I don’t know that, I don’t think that it’s difficult to break through, break in. We have plenty of women engineers and technicians. I don’t think they get the recognition but there’s a lot, there’s group that does a lot of recognition that goes and strives for that. Another one is Yvette Kanouff, who is our first female chair, she was the chair previous to me and it was a great accomplishment, a great thing to see. It says a lot about SCTE that it’s blind to those issues, you know and that’s what I’ve enjoyed about this. I mean blind by saying that everyone’s equal, you know. The Women in Technology Award and purposefully making sure that something that’s important to the industry. There’s standing ovations for Women in Technology Award winner every year. And there are countless applications for that or recommendations for that. There’s a lot there. There needs to be a lot more and there always should be but I think there’s been, in SCTE the opportunities have been there and keep trying to promote that and make sure that that’s relevant. There’s more partnering starting to go with WICT now and that’s been a good thing. So there’s more local chapters getting in with local WICT organizations for like the Tech it Out type of things that go on. So there’s — I like that we’re doing that.

LUKE: It’s been good from that standpoint what Tom just went through kind of high level, where you see that, we’ve done the Women in Cable work, the Women in Technology Awards and then we have our scholarship program that we’re doing where you can take advantage of that. I kind of like backup at the local level and what I’m talking about there the chapter level. I’ve never even thought about it as being an issue but women; they make our local chapters work. They always been very active in it from that standpoint and a lot of them have grown out of that and gotten the recognition that they deserve or they get it as far as they want to go but I do not weigh into this as an industry that holds you back or tries to get in your way because of your sex, or race or anything, just haven’t seen it. I’ve not even thought about it until that question was mentioned because it’s just not that way. We’re not that way. I mean we’re just don’t think that way. So it’s been good from that standpoint. But I do see after thinking about it what’s happening at our local chapter levels and things like that and how those people, the women have taken it and evolved and grown our chapters for everybody. I remember when I started at the little chapter in the DC chapter and Crystal Filippo was there and she wound up being the secretary and they ran that organization. Pam Nobles has done the same thing through Comcast, the other different organizations. A lot of people recognize her from that standpoint. We see the same thing happen at the Chattanooga Chapter. I’m just kind of loosely involved with. It’s exciting.

GORMAN: The Rocky Mountain Chapter, that I’m on the board of, Maria Popo works with us on the board. She’s president of Ubee. That’s awesome to have that kind of involvement.

COCOROS: There’s a lot of different awards that the SCTE gives in recognition and different conferences over the years and that’s evolved along with industry. Do you think that it’s a good thing to look at? This is what SCTE does, it looks at what’s going on in the industry, what are the needs of the industry and shifting and changing and evolving its programs and its conferences and its awards and recognition programs to what’s happening with the industry?

LUKE: I look at like it’s what we do. It’s business as usual to be that way because this is an ever changing industry. It’s like I was mentioning earlier on the BCT/E certification that I’ve done, well that’s kind of they’re rolling over to an emeritus type status because okay, that’s passé so we’re moving on to some other things with broadband privacy. We’re continuously changing. That should be the norm of business to make sure that we’re staying on the cutting edge and learning what we need to do and do things like that. And that’s really what the SCTE’s all about.
GORMAN: If you look at the Cable Games as an example. So tonight’s going to be the Cable Games, at the end of Expo’s, it’s a big thing. Chapters send their folks in and they’re putting connectors on cable and they’re splicing fiber and they’re reading test equipment. They’re doing these various things. But now there’s a new one, it’s IP. It’s the IP challenge because we had to deal with that 10 years ago. So this IP thing shows up, well now we’re doing an IP certifications, internet engineering certification. Now there’s this IP challenge to test your skills of understanding internet protocols and how that all works. It evolves with that. I would imagine over time, right now we have Excellence in Engineering awards, but there may be something that goes off into a vein for specific to things in the IP world if it’s significant enough for that. Engineering’s kind of pretty broad, I guess to cover a lot of things. We’ll always stay with that I think. That’s really the E in SCTE. (Laughter) So, we’ll always stay on that as a primary thing.

COCOROS: How does that come about? Is it something that the leadership really discusses about these changes and get together and really look at how you can freshen it up or make it more relevant as time goes by.

GORMAN: Well, if you look at the continuum of development of technology, whatever that is, so let’s take really simply DOCSIS, like this is simple, DOCSIS 3.0. It’s really easy – plug it in and it works, right? Just all works. Thanks to a lot of work, it works. But so CableLabs goes and develops a DOCSIS [?] standard and they say 8 downstream QAMs and 4 upstream QAMs and they do all this stuff and it kind of comes out. SCTE goes and has some standards work around deploying that as well but the Standards Committee while they’re doing their work on it; they are talking to the professional development committee saying “You need to get some stuff out there because this is the next thing.” Be out in front of that and so as the new technology is developed, SCTE is already saying how do we, what’s our response to that? It might just be, we do a, it’s called information primers, just a quick hit, high level bulletin, this is the things that are going on. What does it mean to you if you deploy MoCA? In your house or something like that. All the way to “this is something we might need to go and do a certification program for.” And so, there’s a continually, because you are getting this feel of what’s coming you can also plan to have that available as it’s finally becoming adopted within the cable space. So it’s kind of a nice little continuum to have the advantage of doing that and not something’s that deployed for three years and you know maybe we ought to go and address this.

COCOROS: It’s not like a silent organization where one committee doesn’t really communicate with the other. It’s really very collaborative.

GORMAN: It has to be.

LUKE: The classic example of that would be like when the industry, broadband industry started going after businesses. Okay, we’re going to start doing business communications, how are we going to do that? Do you want to do it with fiber? Do you want to do it with coax? Which makes the most sense? Is it the right time? Also, let’s make sure we have people trained to take care of that because now we might…we need as a business premises installation person versus a residential one. So you can allow somebody to advance there and that allows you to go compete in that arena and take care of them. So that’s kind of the whole collaboration of it all together.

COCOROS: Are there any other ways that you’ve seen that SCTE has changed over the years in your own personal experience with the organization?

GORMAN: Well, there’s been significant change in the last 4 years and that was the industry, the MSOs said we need to consolidate our trade shows for example and we had the NCTA show and the SCTE show and the various state shows and all these other things going on. There was a lot of concern about the T and E line I think in everybody’s budget kind of showed up, got pretty big. So it was how do we consolidate the tradeshows, how do we push things into 2 weeks out the year? So, SCTE, CTAM, NCTA, WICT, Kaitz Foundation, all these various groups had to go and make some adjustments to their life, their world. And honestly, there was some concern for some associations that they were going to survive through that and some didn’t. Some of the smaller associations just didn’t survive through it. So SCTE had to make some serious changes to the way it operated but also the value equation, how valuable was it to the industry? Had to kind of look inwardly and say do we need to rework some things to show our value? Because, the frontline level was seen and at the executive level it was not. So SCTE had to go and make some of those changes and that’s where you started seeing some of these new programs coming out that addressed executive leadership, executive goals and so on. Most significant to the SCTE is we made a change at the president level of the organization. And it was a really great change. We had a president that was awesome. That took us to a great level and we have another president now that is taking us to the next level. You know, it’s a good continuum that’s gone on through that by making that kind of a change. And it’s hard for a board of volunteers to go and do those kind of things but that’s what the board had to do was sit down and say where are we going and how are we getting there and made some decisions to go and do that. For what the next 40 years are going to look like. So there’s been some significant change to go there and the SCTE is now seen as an extraordinarily valuable organization in the industry because it responded appropriately.

LUKE: The one thing that I’ve seen at kind of a smaller system level, grassroots level is the SCTE has started focusing on the smaller operators. There’s a ton of them. A lot more of them than big operators and the big operators pretty much have their programs set up how they’re going to work for them. What they’ve done it taken the smaller, independent operators, sometimes not independent operators, some small MSOs and they’ve provided training programs that fit their structures, that allows them to stay abreast of things that are going on. Suddenlink is one company that’s taken a phenomenal amount of interest in that. There’s a couple of others out there that are working with. I’ve seen the SCTE groups go out and go to the local chapter meetings trying to find out where those groups are and trying to benefit them from a training standpoint. Help them out there. I’m pretty excited about that. I really am because it’s going to help those smaller, rural operators. I mean you can do stuff online and just bring it there and you have a system that you work with so it helps those guys become better as well. So I’m excited about that.

COCOROS: Well, that leads me to ask you both where do you think the industry is heading and how SCTE will align itself where the changes are?

LUKE: The industry’s changing. It’s going to change pretty fast. I mean what I think has been a wild ride since ’73 till now and it’s like probably every five years we’re going to go through a 30 year transition time. The SCTE will be there. It will be stepping up the challenge. It will be training those people. If I have to look at it, I have to say we’re at the point as an industry, we’re fixing to merge wire line and the wireless industries all together so we can be the ultimate provider, whatever that customer’s need is. So that’s kind of how I see it changing. From a technology perspective, the SCTE will there on the edge of it, helping us be abreast of it.
GORMAN: I have to echo that. You know this digital world today is still really RF based. We’re putting digital signals out over RF. So us good old cable guys we get that part. This next generation of engineers that are coming in that’s not important to them. It’s an IP world, bits and bytes and it’s wireless. It’s these various transmission methods of getting things around. It’s Bluetooth, it’s Wi-Fi, it’s LTE. It’s all of these things that are all conglomerating together. We have some universal network today; you know the cloud is the happy word. I guess we’ll all just one big cloud at some point of everything available everywhere, anytime. Whether that’s good or bad, you know that’s a whole sociological discussion to have. That’s kind of what it is. The thing that SCTE has been able to do successfully is reinvent itself to change with the times but it’s also has a mission to continue looking forward and realizing internally are the right skills in SCTE to drive the next thing. Because there is a generation of people at SCTE today at some point they’ll be done and they’ve got to make sure they have a good succession plan. That’s a lot of the thing that goes on there is what’s next? Who do we have on staff to go and take it to the next level, to the next group of engineers coming up? They are being tapped into. Keep it fresh.

COCOROS: So in your opinions what do you think is the most significant technology or device that has come along thus far at least?

GORMAN: I think it has to be DOCSIS today for us. We’re talking hundred megabit plus services in the customers’ homes where the gold standard was 1 ½ megabits in the ‘90s. You know Key One. Was the gold standard and that service cost $3000 a month. For $59 a month you’re getting a 100, 120 megs in your house and you can put all of that stuff, all the things come with it for that bandwidth, you can deport 3 or 4 TVs or HDTV, the stuff going to your iPads, stuff connected to your iPhones, all those things, that’s an incredible amount of bandwidth. Obviously with DOCSIS 3.0 you’ve got one spec. I didn’t get to go to that meeting today but I think it’s going to take us even beyond that. So, you know, it is extraordinarily significant and it’s an equalizer for service delivery for all services that can be accomplished through what DOCSIS provides.

COCOROS: Rickey what do you think?

LUKE: Well, I’m remembering, gosh it seemed like the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

GORMAN: You don’t have to agree with me now. I just said that was significant. (Laughter)

LUKE: But I kind of remember like the question was which came firs the chicken or the egg? Well, the chicken came first so in that vein of thought I have to say RF over coax because that’s when I got into it. If it hadn’t of been for RF over coax, you wouldn’t have had this progressionary thing where we are doing the AM microwave, where we are doing the fiber, where we are doing the DOCSIS, where we are doing the digital video and now where we are talking about merging the wire line and the wireless worlds together. Now if there was somebody here a little bit older than me they would probably be saying the telegraph system or something like that but I think it was RF over coax. That was the start and then probably the most being a Loyal Order of the 704, I have to say the 704 signal level meter from a test point because you always got to benchmark where you are. If you can’t benchmark it, don’t know, never knew, never know how to go forward, so that was the first one that I kind of rolled back to that we looked at but when it’s all said and done, it’s just like, God, you can go back and say look at SCTE, that’s where they were, RF over coax, 704. And look how they’ve changed and grown and migrated and all that. So we’re in some exciting times and what’s that guy’s name…”The times they are changing, my friend”…

GORMAN: Bob Dylan.

LUKE: (Laughter)

GORMAN: And don’t ever sing again.

LUKE: Oh I can tell you a story about that but I won’t.

COCOROS: How about how SCTE has benefited you personally, just in terms of your career, your own personal journey with it?

LUKE: Wow, I mean, it’s just been a great opportunity to network with the people. The vendors, I mean anytime you can take a society of people together and they can collaborate and share information, you’re going to walk away a more intelligent person or a more drunker person, no I shouldn’t say that. You’re going to walk away as a more intelligent person. You’re all going to benefit from it and so we always have opportunities to learn and what’s been so great about this society is the members are so willing to “look what I found? Look what we can do with this.” And you know, it started off, it started off with a bunch of cowboys and we just go do this and now it’s like, now what a minute, let’s come up with a theological reason why we should do this from a technical standpoint and now we do it and that’s how we can embrace the other industries and work at it. So, I’ve always loved the comradeship that you have with the people in the industry and I don’t know about the other industries but our vendors and operators, they work together fantastically and it’s always working together to try to find the solution. So that has always benefitted me and if you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, there’s always someone out there that’s going to pick you up and help you out in this industry.

GORMAN: You know, I still see it today, something happened to me long ago and I was just having something light my fire, just to go “Oh my gosh, I get this.” And it was going to SCTE meetings and having somebody come from Scientific Atlanta or Jerrold Corporation, back in those days to talk about how amplifiers operate. I’ve been out there working but I didn’t know why. You know, I just knew what. And so all of sudden I just remember sitting in a room going “Oh, I get this. This is really cool stuff.” And being a part of the invention of this technology, coming along for that ride, putting in that first satellite dish, when there were none. Picking up TV pictures from outer space, that was like the coolest thing. And so there was enthusiasm and excitement. Well, there was always SCTE seminars and I couldn’t wait to get to the next one because I knew I was coming and could apply that and it caused me to start teaching people. Because I then learned and I knew. So that’s helped me to succeed through. Somehow I stumbled my way onto the board of directors of SCTE and through all that kind of stuff and it’s been a lot of fun and it’s definitely enhanced the career. When we go to our chapter meetings today and there’s the techs come in and they are just like happy to get a day off from work, that’s how the day starts, at the end of the day, they are going “Wow. I really got something. I learned something.” And you can see that spark showing up and that’s what jazzes me, that’s what really gets me excited and it’s helping…

LUKE: You’ve hit the nail on the head. Everytime you have an opportunity to teach someone, by teaching them you in turn are learning and it makes you that much better as well as the person you’re teaching, so that’s a very good point.

COCOROS: So I’d assume that both of you would encourage people to join SCTE for those reasons, to build their relationships and have that camaraderie and knowledge base and sharing of experiences on both the operator side and the vendor side.
GORMAN: Absolutely. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this too, because one of the other changes that was significant for SCTE was the creation of the SCTE Foundation. As part of the Foundation board, we are trying to give money away, grants for people to further their careers and education. All you need to do is be a SCTE member to have access to that and that’s brilliant to do that. And it’s funded by the industry. So there’s even that kind of thing that’s available, so why would you not want to be a part of SCTE? You have these great opportunities and great things available to you.

LUKE: It’s been a wonderful organization. Still is. It’s very beneficial to us members.

COCOROS: Do you have a lot of people who aren’t from the technology side that aren’t members? Is that something that’s growing?

GORMAN: There’s a lot more management level folks that have come in with a business degree to the industry that are showing up. I don’t know that, I’m not sure if I can answer that really well about how many are not technology people.

COCOROS: Because I’m not, when you said, I’m not a technology person at all other than the fact when I first started in cable or early on, Tom Elliot drew the hub and spoke architecture on the back of the napkin, very, very nicely tried to explain how it all worked.

LUKE: I can’t answer from a volume standpoint but you have purchasing people, who have other people that do things like that. That they have to be, they’re involved. I just met two of them today who work purchasing department for a previous company. I remember the secretary I had, she was an administrative assistant, she wound up doing it, she was coming to meetings, she wound up going to that chapter and now she’s a manager somewhere else, another organization as a result of the knowledge and things that she gained there. So it’s there. The opportunity is there, you just have to take advantage of it.

GORMAN: I have a couple of people that work for me that are business process analysts, but they are members of SCTE because we are part of the industry.

COCOROS: It’s so important to understand at least at the basic level, the technology because that’s what’s really driving a lot of our change and our growth.

LUKE: Absolutely

COCOROS: Well, is there anything else that you would like to talk about in terms of your SCTE experience? The history or anything that you want to give us some last words here?

LUKE: There’s a lot I’d like to talk about but I won’t so I’ll kind of keep it to some memorial things. It’s good when you can have your peers in the industry work with you and celebrate your successes and you theirs and along that line, I think it was last year to get to nominate into the Hall of Fame, Harold Null, who brought me to my first SCTE meeting. He was well deserved of it, so I’m very happy about that.

COCOROS: That’s a good way to close things.

GORMAN: The other thing is that for younger folks that are coming in the industry — I can’t believe I’m talking like this. I don’t think I’m this old but there’s a lot of knowledge in the folks who have been around a while. One of my earliest SCTE chapter meetings, on one side of me was a guy named Ken Simons, who invented the 704 meter; on the other side of me was Bob Tarlton, who built one of the very first cable systems in the industry. I knew those guys! We shook hands and we talked and we talked a lot and got some great insights from them. We were there putting up the first satellite dishes ever. We were the guys. We put the first fiber nodes in ever in our communities. The first ones. So there’s a lot of resources, rich resources walking around this floor here that we hope that folks in future generations tap into because one day they’ll be the guys in here doing these interviews as well.

COCOROS: Made it possible for them to…

GORMAN: Exactly right. So that’s the cool thing about this, it’s a great continuum. It’s been a really fun ride.

LUKE: I’ll give you an example, I was talking with a guy and I’ll leave his name out for right now, but he was talking about how they built this little cable system and they started off with 200 customers, it was [?] and then they wound up going down to 10 customers. What happened was everyone was pointing their antennas at the cable so they were picking it up. So as a result of that they found this cable, copper cable, I don’t know where it came from and they got it out there and they didn’t have connectors for it. So these guys were sitting here working on a race car and they got through on a Saturday and they were sitting there talking and everything and one of the guys said “You know in the race car, we use hydraulic connectors and I’ve got something with Teflon that we make with that and everything.” And as a result of that, they made the first connector and that man’s name was Gilbert.

GORMAN: Gilbert connectors.

COCOROS: That’s a great story. Well, thank you very much for your time.

LUKE: Thank you for having us.

GORMAN: Thanks for the invite, I really appreciate it.

Skip to content