Brian P. Lamb · 1993
Brian P. Lamb helped found C-SPAN – the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network – and has served as the company’s chief executive officer since its beginnings.
The concept of a public affairs network that provides in-depth coverage of national and international issues was a natural for Lamb, who has been both a journalist and a political press secretary. Interested in broadcasting from childhood, he worked at Indiana radio and TV stations while attending high school and college, spinning records, selling ads, and eventually hosting the locally popular “Dance Date” television program.
After graduation from Purdue University, Lamb joined the Navy; his tour included White House duty and a stint in the Pentagon public affairs office. In 1967, he went home to Lafayette, Ind., and the local television station. Washington beckoned, however, and he soon returned to the nation’s capital. There, he worked as a freelance reporter for UPI Audio, a Senate press secretary and a White House telecommunications policy staffer.
In 1974, Lamb began publishing a biweekly newsletter called The Media Report. He also covered communications issues as Washington bureau chief for CableVision magazine. It was from this vantage that the idea of a public affairs network delivered by satellite began to take shape.
By 1977, Lamb had won the support of key cable industry executives for a channel that could deliver gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. Congress. Organizing C-SPAN as a not-for-profit company, the group built one of D.C.’s first satellite uplinks by March 1979 – just in time to deliver the first televised session of the U.S. House of Representatives to 3.5 million cable households.
With cable industry support, C-SPAN grew rapidly from a part-time video programming service. Today’s C-SPAN employs 170 people and offers two 24-hour video channels (C-SPAN and C-SPAN II) and two audio networks. Still known best for live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. Congress, each C-SPAN service also provides unique public affairs programming on a wide range of news and public policy issues. More than 50 million households can tune in C-SPAN’s flagship television network.
Lamb, who is also one of C-SPAN’s on-air hosts, lives in Arlington, Va.