Tuesday, December 02, 2008

High Wire Act

Canadian communications mogul* Ted Rogers died Tuesday at the age of 75. His father died at 38 and Ted was never the healthiest of men, so he did manage to outperform expectations, just as he did in his business life. Rogers' own biography is entitled Relentless - an accurate description of a hard-driving, risk-taking entrepreneur, infamous for phoning his senior execs at 4 am. (photo below: Tibor Kolley/The Globe & Mail)
Rogers had a knack in forecasting where the technology was headed and getting his company there first. He started in Toronto radio, getting into FM radio when less than 3% of radio receivers could pick up FM. He got into cable in suburban Toronto in 1967 when no one thought this was a good idea. He lived on the edge, with a staggering level of debt, but he always managed to keep all the balls in the air.
There are two recent biographies out: High Wire Act: Ted Rogers and the Empire that Debt Built (2007) is by journalist Caroline Van Hasselt. It is unauthorized, although Rogers did cooperate with her. At 530 pages it may be more than enough detail for most readers, but it is an interesting story for folks who enjoy tales of the inner machinations of empire-building. Relentless: the True Story of the Man Behind Rogers Communications (2008) is Rogers' autobiography, ghostwritten by Robert Brehl.
Also just out is the life story of another recently deceased Canadian media giant: Izzy: the Passionate Life and Turbulent Times of Izzy Asper, Canada's Media Mogul, by veteran business writer Peter C. Newman.

(*are they still called moguls? and what's the relation to the moguls you ski through?)


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