Edward Spray · 2004
Biography supplied by Scripps Networks
Ed was born November 28, 1941, in Seymour, Indiana, not far from the Baltimore and Ohio railroad tracks. His Dad, a B&O conductor, first introduced him to the world outside Seymour with trips to Cincinnati Reds baseball games at Crosley Field.
Later through friends in the local FFA he found his way to the State Fair in Indianapolis and eventually to the Indy 500. His Hoosier pride was honed at Indiana University in Bloomington, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, with a radio-television major and journalism minor.
For two years he served as president of the student chapter of Sigma Delta Chi. In 1963, he married Donna Cornwell, who was getting her bachelor’s degree and master’s in elementary education at IU. Over the next three years while working on his master’s, Ed gained experience in his chosen career, as a part-time producer-director on the IU radio and television service staff, and at his first commercial job, as a film editor and cameraman at WISH-TV in Indianapolis.
In 1966, Spray left Bloomington for Chicago’s WMAQ-TV, the NBC affiliate, rising to producer/director and winning five Emmy Awards over the next nine years. He moved across town in 1974, to WBBM-TV, the CBS-owned station, as program manager until 1980 and then director of broadcasting until 1985. The outlet became the city’s highest rated and most award-winning station. In 1979 journalist Fred Friendly called WBBM-TV the “best television station in the country.”
Spray held the same job in 1986-89 at KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, which became CBS’s most profitable station during the last two years of his tenure. He then was named vice president of programming and development for all CBS-owned stations. As a sideline avocation, Spray had frequently taught undergraduate and graduate courses during his Chicago years, at Columbia College and the University of Chicago. So, his next career move was not totally surprising to those who knew him.
In 1992, after three decades in the commercial television field, Ed left Los Angeles and jumped to higher education full time, as an associate professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. But two years later, comfortably on the tenure track and convinced he’d stay in academia the rest of his life. Scripps lured him back to television. It was an adventure he couldn’t pass up-starting a cable network from scratch.
He was one of the 10 original star-gazers Scripps assembled in Knoxville in 1994 to launch Home & Garden Television. As vice president for programming. Spray was responsible for the initial development, production and scheduling of HGTV content. He moved up to executive vice president when Scripps Networks was formed in 1997; as the Food Network came on board, and later created and launched DIY the Do-It-Yourself Network.
Spray was named president of Scripps Networks in 2000, to manage and provide strategic oversight of the initial three cable operations and their websites, and fourth, Fine Living, which debuted in 2002. In January of 2004. Scripps added a fifth network, Shop At Home, based in Nashville, TN. Ed returned to after-hours academia in Knoxville, as an adjunct communications professor at the University of Tennessee in 1997-98. He still finds time to guest lecture frequently and serve on the University’s Board of Visitors. He’s a member of the National Cable Television Association and is active in several other cable and broadcast television. organizations.
Donna continued school teaching over the years, wherever Ed’s career took them. They have a daughter, Catherine, who is in television too, in ad sales at Atlanta’s Weather Channel, and one son, Brian, who lives in Chattanooga. For relaxation, the Sprays live up to their surname on the 24-fooot deck boat at a nearby TVA lake. They enjoy reading, watching late night movies and spending February’s on the Caribbean Island, Anguilla.