CSN Chicago's Jim Corno Remembered For Revolutionizing RSN Programming
Comcast SportsNet Chicago President JIM CORNO died yesterday at the age of 66 from cancer, and he is remembered as being at the "forefront of modern sports television in Chicago, from the infancy of SportsVision in 1984 to the rise of Comcast SportsNet, a dominant player in sports broadcasting," according to Toni Ginnetti of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Corno worked with Blackhawks Chair ROCKY WIRTZ to "put more Blackhawks games on television." He also was the "prime negotiator in 1999 in getting the Cubs to move some of their games from their longtime home" on WGN-TV to Fox Sports Net Chicago, "one of the precursors" to CSN Chicago. Corno helped turn SportsVision "into the first regional sports network to broadcast 24/7." It "evolved" into SportsChannel, then FS Chicago, then CSN in '04, with "Corno at the helm each time." He devised "innovative programming to go with game coverage, including bringing the longtime radio panel show 'The Sportswriters' to television and the first nightly local all-sports news show, 'The SportsChannel Report.'" Corno brought the Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox into a partnership with CSN "when the teams opted out of contracts" with FSN (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 12/11). MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds wrote under Corno's leadership over the years, Chicago TV viewers "became the first to have access to stand-alone sports news and around-the-clock programming and got fans closer to the players via locker room and postgame press conferences -- all of which are RSN programming staples today" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 12/10).
A MAN OF THE PEOPLE: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare noted Corno was "one of the longest-tenured and most well-liked figures within Chicago's sports broadcasting business." He was a "master at matching on-air talent with content and then marketing the combination to the hilt" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/10). Bulls and White Sox Chair JERRY REINSDORF said that "nobody had more of an impact on the Chicago sports fan over the last 30 years more than Jim Corno." Reinsdorf added, "He truly changed sports on TV in Chicago." In Chicago, Ed Sherman notes when Corno "signed on to run Reinsdorf's new pay-TV venture, SportsVision, in 1984, it had 13,000 subscribers." CSN Chicago now "can be seen in nearly 5 million homes." Reinsdorf said, "He always wanted to make the telecast the best in can be. He wanted to get to HD early on, and it wasn't cheap. But even if you made less money in the short term, he felt it was important for the quality to be there. He always had the viewer's best interests at heart." Sherman writes what Corno did in Chicago, also with SportsChannel and FS Chicago, was "the template for regional sports networks throughout the country." Wirtz said that Corno's death "will leave quite a void at CSN and within the entire sports landscape of Chicago" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/11).