Ralph J. Roberts
|Ralph J. Roberts|
|Born||March 13, 1920|
|Known for||Founder of Comcast Corporation|
--Ralph Roberts, Jr.
--Brian L. Roberts
--Douglas Roberts (deceased)
Ralph Joel Roberts (born March 13, 1920) is the co-founder of Comcast Corporation and was its chief executive officer for 46 years. As of 2011 he serves as founder and chairman emeritus of Comcast's board of directors.
Early life and education
Roberts grew up in a Jewish family in New Rochelle, New York and moved to Germantown, Philadelphia when he was seventeen. Roberts graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and served a four-year tour of duty in the United States Navy.
After leaving the Navy, he held various jobs, first selling golf clubs, then working for the Muzak Company, and later the Pioneer Suspender Company which he eventually owned. Using the proceeds from Pioneer, he started purchasing local community antenna television systems which brought TV to people in rural areas, a population then underserved by the big broadcasters. In 1963, he and his partners, Daniel Aaron and Julian A. Brodsky, purchased for $500,000, a 1,200-subscriber cable TV operator in Tupelo, Mississippi called American Cable Systems. They incorporated in 1969 as Comcast Corporation, a name Ralph invented by combining the words communications and broadcasting.
Philanthropy and accolades
Roberts has served on the boards of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Brandywine River Museum, the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, and the PENN Medicine Board of Trustees. Roberts has received awards from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Walter Kaitz Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, The National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Urban League of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He has been awarded honorary degrees from both Holy Family College and the University of Pennsylvania where he received their Joseph P. Wharton Award. In 1998, the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia inducted Roberts into their Hall of Fame. The Suzanne F. and Ralph J. Roberts Foundation was one of the largest contributors to the restoration of the Alfred W. Fleisher Memorial Synagogue at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia named in the honor of his father-in-law.
In 1942, Roberts married Suzanne Fleisher, who was also Jewish, an actress and playwright, and daughter of philanthropist Alfred W. Fleisher. Her name appears on the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia and she hosts a TV program aimed at seniors called "Seeking Solutions with Suzanne" on Comcast's CN8 network. They have five children: Catherine, Lisa, Ralph Jr. (Rob), Brian, and Douglas (who died in 2011); and eight grandchildren. Their son, Brian L. Roberts, is the current CEO of Comcast Corporation.
- Philadelphia Inquirer: "Love: SUZANNE (FLEISHER) ROBERTS & RALPH J. ROBERTS" By Kellie Patrick Gates February 14, 2013
- Jewish Daily Forward: "Brian Roberts' Jewish Roots and Outsized Ambition Drive Comcast's Rise in Media" By Nathan Guttman March 02, 2014 |"Comcast was established in 1969 by Roberts’s father Ralph and his two Jewish partners, Daniel Aaron and Julian Brodsky"
- University of Pennsylvania Medicine: "About the Roberts" retrieved November 25, 2013
- Los Angeles Times: "Comcast goes all in on NBCUniversal" By Meg James February 13, 2013
- Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia: Our Hall of Fame retrieved November 25, 2013
- Eastern State Penitentiary: "Funders for the Synagogue Restoration" retrieved February 19, 2014
- Philadelphia City Paper: "Starring Role - From the boards to the funding, Suzanne Roberts lives for the stage." by Steve Cohen August 25–31, 2005
- Jewish Exponent: "Howard Gerstley Fleisher, 95, Businessman and Active Volunteer" May 20, 2010
- Daily Finance: "Comcast's Brian Roberts: The low-key exec who leads a high-profile giant" By Jonathan Berr December 5, 2009
- The Cable Center: "Cable Hall of Fame Archives - Ralph J. Roberts retrieved June 29, 2012
- Jewish Daily Forward: Top 50 Jews 2012: "Brian Roberts" retrieved December 25, 2012