Home Team Sports' first GM Bill Aber answers questions at RSN's anniversary party
Roughly 250 people, including several DC sports celebrities and veteran sports business execs, gathered in Bethesda, Md., on Thursday night to celebrate Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic's 30th anniversary. A panel of the RSN's original exec team spoke of some of the struggles they had in the channel's early days after its '84 launch as Home Team Sports. The group referenced a '84 Washington Post story that quoted an unnamed cable exec as saying, "I predict they will fail." "That was encouragement for us," said Bill Aber, the RSN's original GM. "[The source] ended up carrying the service -- and paying for it." The RSN launched with well-known on-air talent including Hockey HOFer Gordie Howe in the Capitals broadcast booth and former CNN talk show host Larry King as a studio host. "You could wind the guy up and he'd talk for 14 hours straight," the channel's original Exec Producer Jody Shapiro said of King. As for the on-air product in the early days, the net's longest-serving on-air talent Al Koken said, "We made that 'Boom Goes the Dynamite' guy look like Bob Costas." About a dozen of the channel's original employees attended the event at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, including Fox Sports exec Bill Brown, who was the original producer on Orioles and Capitals games; Comcast exec Mike Ortman, who was the original PR manager; and Jeff Wagner, who was the original marketing director. Sports business execs in attendance included the RSN's current GM Rebecca Schulte, Comcast Sports Group Senior VP & General Counsel Amy Cohen, CSN CFO John Ruth and Comcast Chief Revenue Officer Ray Warren. DC sports celebs that attended the event included John Riggins, Phil Chenier and Craig Laughlin.