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"Media Perspective" from the man who launched MTV & Nickelodeon

John Lack, adjunct professor in the Department of Communication and Philosophy at FGCU
Florida Gulf Coast University
John Lack, adjunct professor in the Department of Communication and Philosophy at FGCU

During his four-decade-long career in media, John Lack has had a front row seat to the development of some household names in media, and you might even say true cultural phenomena.

Lack was Chief Operating Officer of Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment from 1979 to 1984. His mandate was to develop cable channels for specialized audiences. Over that stretch, he developed the Movie Channel — cable TV’s first stab at the 24-hour paid subscription model. They showed full movies without interruption, which was entirely new at the time. Two other specialized audience channels John created were Nickelodeon, and MTV.

When MTV launched on August 1, 1981 with the iconic rocket launch montage, the very first voice you’ll hear is John Lack saying “Ladies and Gentlemen…Rock & Roll.”

In the early 1990s, Lack was Executive Vice President of Marketing and Programming at ESPN where he developed ESPN 2 to cater to a younger audience. Since 2010, he has been a chief partner for FireMedia Partners, a media consulting firm that focuses on helping start-ups.

After moving to Fort Myers about a year ago, Lack decided he wanted to teach and is now doing just that here at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he’s an adjunct professor in the Department of Communication and Philosophy. He teaches a course called Media Perspective that helps students understand the broader trends we’ve been through with print, radio, television, the internet and social media — and tries to get students thinking about the changes we’re experiencing right now, and how best to be prepared for what seems like an uncertain future — and not just in media.

John sat down with his prior to his talk on Thursday, November 30 as part of the FGCU Provost’s Seminar Series and Naples Discussion Group.

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