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Document Details


Title: Robert and Jeanne Burull
Document type: Oral history
Accessibility: Free Only
Repository: Cable Center. Barco Library. Special Collections
Collection: Cable Center Oral History Collection
Description: Robert and Jeanne Bururll epitomize the so-called Mom and Pop cable operators who built and operated so many of the early US systems. Born in Wisconsin, they met in grade school. Robert graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and earned masters and Ph.D. degrees as well. While teaching at Bradley University he became in involved in local radio businesses and learned about cable TV. In 1969 the Bururlls founded Viking Media Corp. and won the franchise to build a cable system in Stoughton, Wisconsin, near Madison. Bob ran the business and Jeanne handled the billing, ran the office and answered the phones. In their oral history the couple recall the battles with the local theater and newspaper, the fights for pole attachment rights and other issues that confronted many local cable operators in the 1970s. Since Stoughton was within reach of broadcast television stations in Madison, it had to develop local programming to attract subscribers. The system was a pioneer in televising local sports events, city council meetings and other local activities. The Bururlls were also founders of the Wisconsin Cable Television Association and recount their battles at the state level to avoid regulation that would have strangled the industry. They sold their system in 1974 and after a return to academia for three years, Bob took a job with Telephone & Data Systems, the ninth largest phone company in the US and one of the most aggressive in attempting to build a cable television business. Bob recounts his efforts to win franchises for TDS and the necessary FCC approval for a phone company to own a cable system. He left TDS in 1981 and returned to academia in the Wisconsin University system before retiring.
URL: http://www.cablecenter.org/education/library/oralHistoryDetails.cfm?id=64
Original Language: English
Video: [Video available]
Audio: [Audio available]
Time span: Not indicated ... to 1999 (Year of interview)
Speaker: Burull, Jeanne Rowley
Speaker gender: Female
Speaker race: White
Speaker occupation: Cable operator
Document date: Nov-1999
Interviewer: Keller, Jim
Locations discussed: North America; United States
Topics discussed - ASP terms: Broadcasting; Cable television--United States; North America; Oral history; Public broadcasting; Television; Television programs; United States
Topics discussed - Other terms: Cable administrators
ASP release: 2005-06
Document code: OHI0022694-24093