Cablefax The Magazine - July 2013 - 30

2013 Top Ops Awards
INDEPENDENT LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Martin 'Marty' Brophy
Talk about reality TV. It doesn't get any
more real than a cold February evening
in Shenandoah, a former coal-mining
town about 112 miles northeast of
Philadelphia, PA.
It was Super Bowl Sunday in Feb
2010, and Marty Brophy, the affable
President/CEO of Shen-Heights
Cable, took his customary position:
" Watching the game at home, worrying
that nothing would happen " to the
TV reception, he recalls. " It was the beginning of the third
quarter [of Super Bowl XLIV, Colts vs Saints] and boom, it
went off the air. Before I could even get my coat on to run
to check on the problem, I heard my neighbors yelling right
through my back yard: 'Brophy, you better get this thing
back on!' We ask if that was the printable version of what
they screamed. " Yes, " he laughs.
But that was Brophy's world heading Shen-Heights, one of
cable's oldest systems. When you live in an area with about
6,500 residents, " you walk down the street and people know
you, " he says. Add to this the fact that the Brophy family
has owned and run the cable system for some 60 years, and
well... you're going to hear from people.
Born and bred in the area, where today Mrs. T's Pierogies
is the biggest employer, Brophy worked at Shen-Heights during
high school vacations. He's got cable in his veins. " I've
been here like forever, " he jokes. Says Dan Tunnell, President
of Broadband Cable Association of PA: " No one is more
deserving of a cable lifetime achievement award than Marty. "
And ACA VP/COO Rob Shema only half jokes when he
describes ACA's Treasurer as " legacy cable personiied... His
father was in the room when the irst cable systems started;
Marty was there soon after. " Perfect: CableFAX's Lifetime
Achievement Award goes to someone who's been in cable
his entire lifetime.
Brophy's father Frank hooked up Shen-Heights' irst
customer in 1951. When Marty sold the system to Electric
Services Co. just a few months ago, Shen-Heights served
3,000 customers. Brophy, 66, is helping with the transition
until the golf course beckons. He works from an ofice with
two ield techs and three CSRs; Marty's brother Anthony
is the engineer, and brother Frank Jr. is the construction
supervisor. Customer care is a point of pride for the staff of
9. " When we get a call in the morning, we're usually there
that day, if not right after we get the call, " he says. " The big
boys don't care as much about customers as individuals...
they don't know you, or where you live. You're a number. "
" Our ofice is just a plain storefront, nothing fancy, " he
* WWII veteran and Bronze Star recipient Frank Brophy
Sr and Albert Kersewicz began building Shen-Heights in
1950, mainly so they could pull NY stations to watch NY
Yankees games. It took years until microwave technology
arrived to grab the signals. By that time, Frank Brophy had
died and son Marty was running Shen-Heights.
* The buyer of Shen-Heights is Service Electric Cablevision,
an affiliate of Service Electric Co, the country's oldest
cable operator, founded in 1948 by John and Margaret
Walson. Service Electric Cablevision remains family
owned, serving 100K customers in 100
PA communities.
* Marty Brophy was chairman and
board member of Broadband Cable Association
of PA (BCAP), the country's
first state cable association.
He's now Treasurer of ACA.
30
cablefaxmag.com
insists. Perhaps, but the services he provided his customers
were. Well before many small systems offered Internet and
digital cable, Shen-Heights provided them. HD came later;
telephone came on line a bit more than 2 years ago.
A modest man, Brophy sometimes downplays his accomplishments.
" Our engineer, George Yudisky, kept us on
the cutting edge, " he says. " We knew we had to modernize,
but we waited until others had experience. We learned from
them and noted which vendor's products performed best in
the ield. " Brophy also took notes at cable shows and ACA
meetings. " I heard [Buford Cable's] Ben Hooks talk at a
convention about expanding channel capacity... and that's
what we did. "
But this story of homespun cable is bittersweet and all
too predictable. " The retransmission consent fees, programming
costs and technology upgrades got to be too
much for us, " Brophy says, explaining the main inancial
reasons for selling. " The day you install a piece of technology,
it's out of date, " he laments. When Brophy initially
expanded channel capacity from three stations to six in the
late 60s, the family inanced it.
Still, he's upbeat about cable's future. " If you have the
right people and the right system, it's still a good business, "
he says.
Oh, and Brophy also handled that Super Bowl blackout.
" We were on it instantly. We had it ixed before the end of
the quarter, " he says proudly.
- Seth Arenstein
July 2013
CableFAX: The Magazine
http://www.cablefaxmag.com

Cablefax The Magazine - July 2013

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