B+C Hall of Fame 2022: Curtis Symonds Induction

By Say~It~Loud!

April 14, 2022

The entire HBCUGO.TV, staff and family is thrilled to announce that Today, April 14th, 2022, one of our founders, Mr. Curtis Symonds will be inducted into the Broadcasting Cable Hall OF Fame.

The induction of the 30th anniversary class of the B+C Hall of Fame in recognition of their special contributions to the industry will be held at the exceptionally beautiful Ziegfield Ballroom in New York City.

Few television executives can say they had a hand in building two legendary cable brands while at the forefront of working to diversify the cable industry’s C-suites before launching a successful streaming business. Curtis Symonds can certainly lay claim to that fame, as well as many other TV-industry accomplishments.

From the 1980s through the 2000s, Symonds was instrumental in steering ad sales and marketing fortunes of ESPN and BET. He also worked behind the scenes to foster greater employment of people of color as an active and influential board member of the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) and as president of the T. Howard Foundation.

Later, as an entrepreneur, he launched HBCUGo.TV, one of the first national cable networks or digital services targeted specifically to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“Curtis Symonds is one of the great pioneers of the cable industry and a visionary in the new digital era,” said Byron Allen, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, BYRON ALLEN’S ALLEN MEDIA GROUP ACQUIRES HBCUGO.TV! . “Curtis has an impeccable reputation and is also an outstanding media executive.”  

High praise for the Bermuda, West Indies, native who grew up in Wilberforce, Ohio, wanting to follow in the footsteps of his mother, who taught at Central State University. Symonds would earn a bachelor of science degree at the historically Black college. 

 
“Curtis Symonds is one of the great pioneers of the cable industry and a visionary in the new digital era. “Curtis has an impeccable reputation and is also an outstanding media executive.”
Byron Allen - Chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group
 

“I believed my goal was teaching because I watched my mother for so many years,” he said. “I just loved the way she handled herself and what she did for students.” 

A part-time job laying underground coaxial cable for a local Continental Cable system launched his TV career. Symonds eventually became manager of the system in 1979. He relocated to Chicago in 1983 to work at ESPN’s regional office as a local advertising sales consultant. “At the time ESPN wasn’t the monster that it is now, so I had the opportunity to come on when they were beginning to grow,” Symonds said. 

As ESPN grew, so did Symonds’s profile, as he rose to director of affiliate marketing for ESPN’s Midwest region.

His influence transcended ESPN. He became one of the chief architects in building NAMIC, which sought to encourage African-American participation and employment  in the cable industry. Symonds served on its board for a decade beginning in 1983. 

Curtis Symonds Featured in Black Enterprise Magazine

“That was a critical time because there weren’t a lot of minorities in the business, and I liked the direction that NAMIC was going in because we were making noise about what we deserved from the business,” he said. “I think to this day, the group of individuals who were part of NAMIC’s national board did a masterful job of convincing MSOs and programmers that there was another group of folks who deserved a chance to be in this business and function at a higher level.”

His next big turn came in 1988 with a call from BET chairman Robert Johnson about coming to work at the African-American targeted channel. “I saw the vision Bob had for the network so I took a chance,” Symonds said. 

Symonds became executive VP of affiliate distribution and marketing for BET Holdings, helping transform the entertainment network into one of the industry’s most recognized and celebrated brands. Symonds was able to help increase the network’s annual sales revenue growth to 57% by 2001 by building a brand that had broad appeal. 

 

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