Robert N. Wold, satellite communications innovator, dies at 87

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Robert N. Wold, an innovator in the use of satellite technology for the distribution of television programming, died Saturday in Irvine of complications from dementia, his family said. He was 87.

Born in Minneapolis on Sept. 11, 1925, Wold served in the Navy during World War II and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1950.

He started his career in advertising, first at CBS and later with the agencies Campbell Mithun and NW Ayer.


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In 1971, Wold left advertising to consult with sports rights holders on distribution to television and radio. At that time, live telecasts were distributed via cable. Wold pushed for using satellites and in 1975 was credited with the first satellite transmission of a live event, a baseball game.

In 1977, Wold Communications orchestrated the real-time satellite delivery of the Richard Nixon–David Frost interviews to 165 television stations around the country.

Wold Communications went on to build and operate satellite ground stations and mobile uplinks that were instrumental in the creation of daily syndicated television shows such as “Entertainment Tonight” that could be beamed to local TV stations around the country.

In 2001, Wold was inducted into the Society of Satellite Professionals International Hall of Fame.

Wold is survived by his son Peter, daughters Margaret and Molly and six grandchildren.



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