First to head Disney Channel

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Alan Wagner, 76, a television executive who became the first president of the Disney Channel, died Tuesday in New York City, according to the New York Times. The cause of death was not reported.

Wagner was hired by the Walt Disney Co. in 1982 to oversee development of a cable channel dedicated to children and family programming. Armed with a $100-million budget, Wagner recruited a staff of programmers and pulled content from Disney’s extensive film and program library.

The channel started as a 16-hour-a-day service and had its premiere in April 1983. Wagner headed the operation for about a year, the Times reported.

Born in New York City, Wagner earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University.


Before joining Disney, he was the East Coast vice president for programming at CBS and, according to the Times, oversaw shows including “All in the Family,” “Kojak” “The Bob Newhart Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

An opera fan, Wagner also hosted “Living Opera,” a Sunday morning program on WYNC that featured recordings, interviews and backstage stories, the Times reported.