president of ABC News, has had a more profound impact on the development
of television news and sports programming and presentation than
any other individual. In fact, a 1994 Sports Illustrated
magazine ranking placed Arledge third, behind Muhammad Ali and Michael
Jordan, in a list of 40 individuals who have had the greatest impact
on the world of sports in the last four decades. In addition, a
1990 Life magazine poll listed Arledge as among the "100
Most Important Americans of the 20th Century."
In 1960, Arledge
defected from NBC to join a struggling ABC. The next year, in his
role as vice president of ABC Sports, Arledge created what would
become the longest running and most successful sports program ever,
of ABC's Wide World Sports. He brought his production specialty
to ABC, and overhauled sports programming, including introduction
of such techniques as slow motion and instant replays. These production
techniques enabled Arledge to create a more exciting and dramatic
sports event. He combined his production skills with "up close and
personal" athlete features, which changed the way the world viewed
competing athletes. He was one of the first users of the Atlantic
satellite, enabling him to produce live sporting events from around
in sports resulted in his promotion to president of the sports division
in 1968, where he served until 1986. Shortly after his promotion,
he again elevated ABC's sports prominence with NFL Monday Night
Football. This prime-time sports program gave ABC the lock on
ratings during its time slot, and earned Arledge even greater respect.
lead, ABC Sports became the unchallenged leader in network sports
programming. Arledge's innovations on Wide World were also
successful for the ten Olympic games he produced. Inducted into
the Olympic Hall of Fame for his commitment to excellence Arledge
was later bestowed the Medal of Olympic Order by the International
Olympic Committee, making him the first television executive and
one of a select group of Americans to receive this prestigious award.
successful transformation of ABC Sports, his promotion to president
of ABC News came as a surprise to many individuals because Arledge
had no formal journalistic training. He functional as president
of ABC Sports and ABC News for nearly ten years.
With the development
of shows such as 20/20, World News Tonight, and Nightline,
ABC was soon on the top of the network news battle. Among his greatest
skills is identification of potential stars. Arledge successfully
recruited the strongest and most promising journalists for his news
team, including World News Tonight star Peter Jennings. Arledge
recognized Jennings' talent and cast this once-defeated ABC Evening
News anchor in the spotlight, and it worked. Arledge's team
includes David Brinkley, Diane Sawyer, Sam Donaldson, Ted Koppel,
Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs.
news on the air in non-traditional formats and at non-traditional
times, and received high ratings. In its 15 years, Nightline
has battled entertainment personalities such as Johnny Carson, David
Letterman and Jay Leno for ratings, and in 1995 was the highest
rated late-night program. From its first show with Ali Agah, Iranian
affairs leader, and Dorothea Morefield, wife of American hostage
Richard Morefield, Nightline has been the leader in international
news show creations include PrimeTime Live, with Diane Sawyer
and Sam Donaldson; This Week With David Brinkley; World
News Now, a 2:00-6:00 A.M. Monday through Friday overnight news
program; and numerous ABC News Presents specials such as
Turning Point and Viewpoint. Arledge also designed
inventive news broadcasts such as Capital to Capital, the
first satellite news series to promote discussion between U.S. and
His shows have
received virtually every broadcasting honor possible. In 1995, ABC
News was the first-ever news organization to receive the Alfred
I. duPont-Columbia University Award, given for the network's overall
commitment to excellence.
In a speech
following his appointment at ABC, Arledge declared, "We (ABC) will
be setting the standards that everyone will be talking about and
that others in the industry will spend years trying to equal." It
is clear, based on the success of ABC Sports and ABC News, that
Arledge lived up to his immodest words.
Photo courtesy of ABC
Born in Forest Hills, New York, U.S., 8 July 1931. Educated at Mepham
High School, Merrick, New York; Columbia College, New York, B.A.
1952. Married Joan Heise, 1953 (divorced, 1971); children: Elizabeth
Ann, Susan Lee, Patricia Lu, and Roone Pinckney. Served in United
States Army, 1953-1955. Started as production assistant, DuMont
Television Network, 1952; producer-director, Radio Public Relations
Spots for United States Army, 1953-55; stage manager, director,
producer, at NBC Television, 1955-60; joined ABC Television, field
producer, NCAA Television, 1960; producer, ABC's Wide World of
Sports, 1961; vice president, ABC Sports, 1965; president, ABC
Sports, 1968; created NFL Monday Night Football, 1969; president
ABC News, 1977; group president, ABC News and Sports, 1985-90; president
ABC News since 1990. Recipient: 36 Emmy Awards; four George Foster
Peabody Awards; two Christopher Awards; Broadcast Pioneers Award;
Gold Medal, International Radio and Television Society; Distinguished
Service to Journalism Honor Medal, University of Missouri; John
Jay Distinguished Professional Service Award, Columbia University;
Distinguished Achievement Award, University of Southern California
Journalism Association; Founders Award, Academy of Television Arts
and Sciences; Grand Prix, Montreaux Television Festival; Olympic
Order, Medal of the International Olympic Committee; Grand Prize,
Cannes Film Festival; Man of the Year, National Association of Television
Program Executives; Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall
of Fame, 1990; U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, 1990, du Pont-Columbia
Howard. Like It Is. Chicago: Playboy Press, 1974.
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ABC's Monday Night Football. New York: William Morrow: 1988.
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Television Sports. New York: Harper & Row, 1989.
Phil. Razzle Dazzle: The Curious Marriage of Television and Professional
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John. "Roone Arledge." Sport (New York) December, 1986.
Benjamin G. In Its Own Image: How Television Has Transformed
Sports. New York: Free Press, 1984.
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& Cable (Washington, D.C.), 10 October 1994.
Steve. "Roone Arledge (Forty for the Ages)." Sports Illustrated
(New York), 19 September 1994.
Jim, with Dave Giles. Up Close and Personal: The Inside Story
of Network Television Sports. New York: Athaneum, 1988.
Bert Randolph. The Thrill of Victory: The Inside Story of ABC
Sports. New York: Hawthorne, 1978.
Harry F. "A Relish for Risks; The Ups and Downs of ABC's Roone Arledge."
Newsweek (New York), 15 June 1987.
See also American
Broadcasting Company; News;