About >> The Pied Piper of Television

Bill and The Pied Piper of Television

Author Bill Roedy has got a rocking profile. He was the chairman and CEO of MTV Networks International, one of the largest entertainment television networks in the world. Roedy and his team were the men who made it to the world’s most rocking music destination for the youth, reaching out to an audience comprising a third of the world’s population across 165 countries.

The book is a story of the author’s life and how he made MTV into what it is today; and the fact that his life has been as exciting as the brand he built, helps.

Roedy started his life dodging Vietcong 122-mm rockets in war-torn Vietnam and later, commanding a NATO nuclear missile base in northern Italy. So, when he stepped into the world of business, he was prepared for the “battle”—a kind that had not been fought before; and to win it successfully as MTV has done, he “broke all the rules”.

The book shows how the author believed in and realised the importance of the basic principles in building a successful business, like hiring the right team, focusing on distribution, successful negotiation, and revenue generation.

But, more often than not, he would do things in a way the situation called for; even if it meant doing something nobody else had done before.

“We were not a traditional company, so traditional strategies won’t work for us,” sums up Roedy. One such strategy was running high-quality ads by major prestige brands like Coca-Cola for free, so that other brands would want to be associated with them.

Breaking rules spread into the creative space as well, after all MTV was all about creativity. They were the first to start many things we now take for granted in television channels—like putting their logo in the corner of the screen so that viewers always knew which channel they were watching.

The biggest challenge Roedy faced and overcame was making MTV a global business that spanned across continents and cultures.

“We went into every market knowing that eventually we would face some type of problem in distribution, revenue, programming or even government relations. But no matter how complicated the situation, I tried to remain optimistic,” Roedy says.

It was this optimism coupled with a hands-on business strategy that led to MTV’s success as a global brand.

The book scores high on general interest; the reader is taken through the birth and growth of some of the greatest names in modern television industry that includes HBO, CNN, CNBC, its pages peppered with colourful characters—media magnates Ted Turner, Robert Maxwell, Sumner Redstone; world leaders Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and The Dalai Lama; and music legends Alicia Keys, Bono and Mick Jagger.

Remember the animated pieces on MTV always ending with the creation of a colourful MTV logo? One showed people fleeing from an approaching monster—in this case the giant letter ‘M’, the legs of which stomped through the city until it hit the electrical wires—and the bolts of electricity formed the word ‘TV’. Roedy uses the words, “elaborate, whimsical, and startlingly innovative” to describe these. The same words aptly describe the story he tells. You cannot afford to miss this one.


About The Pied Piper of Television