Cable Tech

Reminiscing with Bob Gold about cable milestones, Dan Aykroyd and media screwups

If you've been in the cable tech industry for more than five minutes, there's a good chance you know Bob Gold, the super-energetic PR/marketing guy and Cable TV Pioneer who's been representing cable tech companies and startups since the late 1990s. Gold got his agency start representing a video remultiplexing company (sexy, right?) called Imedia that eventually was bought by Terayon Communication Systems for a cool $100 million back when we partied like it was 1999... because it was 1999.

Since then, off the top of this hack's head, he's flacked for or is currently flacking for companies such as Canal Plus, Pioneer (back when it was making cable boxes and interactive guides), Media One, Incanta and ClearBand (we'll get to those in more detail). Of more recent note, he's worked with Plume, the rechristened National Content & Technology Association (NCTC) and Vidgo, a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD) that competes in the market with the likes of YouTube TV, Hulu, Philo and Sling TV.

Full disclosure – he and the crew at Bob Gold & Associates have pitched a ton of stories to me about many of these companies over the years. Gold and I don't always see eye-to-eye, but I've written about many of those companies over the years. And Bob did nominate me for the Cable TV Pioneers class of 2018, so perhaps I wasn't as big of a jerk to him, his staff and his clients over the years as I thought I was. Hey, I tried.

And here's where I'll plug the annual analyst/media dinner that Gold and fellow industry PR dude Paul Schneider will put on this week at Cable-Tec Expo. We'll be there with bells on this week as the show returns as an in-person gig in Philadelphia. Gold, as those who go to this dinner know, has this uncanny ability to the start the night off with a unique introduction of EVERYONE – whether he's known the person for 25 years or 25 minutes. We're talking about 50 to 60 people. At one time, it was kind of weird. Now, it's anticipated and kind of adorable.

Usually news tied to Gold has to do with a company he represents, but this time it's all about Gold – his agency recently turned 25-years-old. He got that up and running about the time I started writing about the industry and had to Google "DOCSIS" to figure out what the heck I was about to do my first story on. We also figured out that my personal AOL e-mail account, required when I joined CableFAX and still active, is nearly as old as his agency.

So, we have a lot of industry stuff in common, enough that it made sense to get together on the podcast to hop in the "Wayback Machine" and reminisce about the last two decades-plus, why and how he got into the agency biz, his biggest hits and misses and why Dan Aykroyd has a special place in his heart (yes, it's actually industry related).

You can download a lightly edited transcript of the podcast here. If you want to skip around and listen, here's a timestamped list of the convo:

  • How Gold and the crew celebrated the silver anniversary. And, yes, a PR crisis did interfere (1:15)
  • Remember FuckedCompany.com? Gold recalls a raging fire he had to tend to when one of his clients, a video streaming startup called Incanta, got nailed by the site. And this all happened while he was schmoozing with industry folk on the slopes of Vail (3:00)
  • How Gold, whose background includes marketing and communications exec roles with major cable programmers, turned a disaster into a new career as the head of an agency that focused on the crazy world of tech – and other things (5:50)
  • How a top exec of a company didn't even believe in a fiber-based product that was being pitched to the press (12:30)
  • How startups like Incanta and ClearBand had great ideas about streaming TV to devices but were just too early with respect to tech or content rights… or both (14:00)
  • How Gold pitched to me a cable theft story, and I royally screwed up the embargo and the bad guy got away (15:30)
  • Which client was Gold's greatest completed Hail Mary (18:30)
  • Why Dan Aykroyd was Gold's favorite celeb to work with, back when video-on-demand was just appearing on the cable scene (20:30)
  • Why Gold, at one time, viewed Amazon Prime as the most infuriating organization (24:00)
  • Gold's biggest gain. After the fact, he told me to add Plume to the list (26:44)
  • Gold's proudest moment – next to being my guest on the podcast, of course (27:30)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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