Cablefax The Magazine - July 2014 - 14

MSO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Patty McCaskill
Suddenlink
As baseball's Casey Stengel once said, " Who'd a thunk it? "
Certainly Patty McCaskill could not have predicted that in
the male-dominated business world she entered more than
31 years ago a woman, she specifi cally, would become the
unoffi cial dean of MSO programming offi cials.
It's not that the St. Louis native lacked the talent, smarts,
drive or personality to be successful. Business just wasn't
a woman's place back when Patty was graduating from
Maryville University, which was then an all-women's school.
" It was a total men's club, " she says. " There were very few
[female] role models for me at that time. "
Yet McCaskill found she was good at marketing and
sales. " I liked it. It stimulated and challenged me. " So she
dove into the business world. And, more baseball-her fi rst
job was working for the legendary Stan Musial at his restaurant.
From catering she moved to convention planning and
later hotels, eventually climbing the ladder to general manager.
But " I realized running hotels was not what I wanted to
do, so I looked at other industries. "
In 1980, McCaskill met cable entrepreneur Bob Brooks.
" He told me how cable TV was going to take off. " Back then
cable " was a pure video business, of course... franchising
was just being completed and we were building cable
systems... we went door to door to convince consumers
they needed more than their broadcast channels. Of course,
we didn't have the powerhouse content brands we have today. "
Networks like Discovery, MTV, Nickelodeon and ESPN
didn't exist or were in their infancy.
Skip to the present, and McCaskill is getting set to retire
January 1 after a stellar career in cable, most recently
as Suddenlink's SVP and Chief Programming Offi cer.
She's been working part-time since May, helping negotiate
retransmission consent deals, many of which come
due at year's end. But, as she readily admits, " I'm not a
retiring type of person. " She's thinking about traveling
with her husband of 42 years and working on " my very
rusty golf game-I haven't played regularly in several
years. " On the other hand, " playing golf fi ve days a week
would drive me crazy. "
That's why McCaskill plans to stay connected to cable
during retirement, perhaps consulting, working with the
Cable Pioneers or Women in Cable Telecommunications
(WICT). Her interest in helping is hardly surprising, since
McCaskill's willingness to " give back " is one of her trademarks.
For years she's been a fi xture on the cable circuit,
rarely missing an opportunity to do good, whether it was
at WICT or the Cable & Telecommunications Association
for Marketing (CTAM). She also was a steadfast supporter
of Cable Positive. " I could write a book about her
commitment & dedication, " former Cable Positive chief
Steve Villano says.
McCaskill knows she'll miss cable. " It's been a great ride.
Among her many citations, McCaskill received cable's
top honor, a Vanguard, for Distinguished Leadership,
during The Cable Show 2014.
McCaskill's been on both sides of cable's table as she
helped launch Travel Channel as director of marketing.
14
cablefaxmag.com
There was never a day that I went to work and knew exactly
what I was going to be doing. I loved that. The challenges,
the changes... that's part of my personality. " She'll miss the
people most. " So many of us have become friends over the
years. That's the thing about this industry that you don't fi nd
elsewhere. You can spend a day across from someone at
the negotiating table and then you go out at night and party.
Nobody takes it personally. " In fact, she wants to be remembered
in cable as " a tough but fair negotiator... the best
outcomes occurred when both sides won, " McCaskill says.
Now the cycle is complete. McCaskill is an executive to
emulate. " Patty has been a trailblazer throughout her career
and much of that trail has been in support of women and
WICT, " says Maria Brennan, President/CEO of WICT. " She
helped found WICT's Midwest Chapter, served on WICT's
national board and has been a mentor. Patty is a role model
to which women can aspire. " Who'd a thunk it?
- Seth Arenstein
July 2014
Cablefax: The Magazine
http://www.cablefaxmag.com

Cablefax The Magazine - July 2014

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