CHICAGO – Tuesday night, a giant in the cable industry joined a pantheon of luminaries that built an industry from scratch and forever changed how Americans consume television.
ESPN’s Chris Berman, a history major from Brown University, made history himself by becoming only the fifth on-air personality to be inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame, joining Larry King, Bernard Shaw, Christiane Amanpour and Maria Bartiromo. He also joins a slew of executives, including Ted Turner and former ESPN President George Bodenheimer. The ceremony was held at Chicago’s Navy Pier during NCTA’s annual Internet and Television Expo (INTX).
Chris was joined by close to 20 friends and colleagues, including his long-time on-air partner, ESPN NFL analyst Tom Jackson, and a number of ESPN corporate and production executives.
Larry Satkowiak, President and CEO of The Cable Center, who oversees the Cable HOF, said they had been keeping an eye on Berman for some time.
– Chris Berman
“When we really thought about why and who we honor, Chris stood out,” Satkowiak said. “He was there from the start, was the face of a burgeoning network and medium and has remained on top all these years. There aren’t many on-air people who’ve made the mark he has in our industry.”
Berman joined ESPN in the fall of 1979, shortly after launch, and has done pretty much everything there is to do at the company, from SportsCenter to Major League Baseball, U.S. Open golf, and of course, all things NFL.
The mood, of course, was celebratory, and not solely because of Chris’s many professional achievements.
“What people at home don’t see is that Chris is first and foremost a hall of fame person and friend,” Jackson said. “It was a great night because we were thrilled for him personally. His larger-than-life persona masks a genuinely kind and caring guy who works very hard to make the rest of us look good. We were all glad to see him rewarded.”
Berman’s remarks captured the 610 people in the room.
“Tonight is not really about me,” he said. “It’s about an industry that not even The Swami could have predicted would become so monumental….
“I’m lucky to have worked with the very best, some who are here tonight, some whose names you’ll never know. I accept this honor on behalf of every man and woman who has worked, or is working, at ESPN.”