It's always my very first job out of college that people find most interesting. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. My first gig right out of Buffalo State in July of 1981 was the launch of MTV - Music Television. Now don't get me wrong, I believe that my career at MTV was very interesting, but what has come since then is much more interesting to me, but less well-known than MTV. In addition to my law practice, I am very proud to look back on over sixteen years+ of management experience running television networks now seen in every corner of the world. (and a few that were great, but aren't seen anywhere anymore)
I was an original network operations staff member, my fellow crew members and I were part of the launch of the world’s first 24-hour video music channel. Back when it didn't suck! I was there for the exciting launch, and for the years of anonymity that followed before MTV was picked up by NYC-area cable systems. In 1981, Mark Goodman and I saw Elvis Costello at the Pier in Manhattan and nobody recognized him. My mom wondered aloud at family functions - when I would get a "real" job. Nevertheless, I supervised MTV broadcast operations from the launch in August 1981, guiding daily broadcasting well into its second decade. Past job titles at MTV included Technical Director, MTV Crew Chief, and Supervisor of On-Air Operations for MTV (Which was known as WASEC in those days, eventually to be bought, and ruined, by VIACOM). Here's the details and lets get it out of the way.
The Launch of MTV
Back in 1981, a network like MTV had never been seen before. A 24 hour, all-music channel, in stereo, composed entirely of short pieces of videotape was an entirely new kind of channel. The challenge involved using the available TV technology in innovative ways to create a network with the immediacy of radio and the visual impact of rock. (before computers ran everything) It was not merely a success. It became a phenomenon. MTV (such as it is) is now seen in over ninety countries around the world. Every year, new nations want their own MTV.
In the years that followed the launch, MTV’s Network Operations Center expanded rapidly. I became responsible for the operations of other networks besides MTV.
VH-1 and NICK-AT-NITE were launched. SHOWTIME and THE MOVIE CHANNEL were merged with the MTV Networks Group, which became a part of VIACOM in 1986. Even more channels were added to the lineup including SHOWTIME II, FLIX!, and VIEWERS CHOICE. Automated west coast feeds were added for most networks. Affiliate scrambling, editing, duplication and tape quality assurance were added to Network Operations responsibilities.
By 1991, when I graduated from Law school, I was managing operations for thirteen television networks. Hundreds of VIACOM staff members, VIPs, students, executives and members of the press got their first lesson in MTV-style network operations and satellite broadcast technology at one of my famous Network Ops orientation programs. Making complex systems easy to understand was the mission. I even got to explain it to CBS when 60 MINUTES featured our then-fledgling network.
Rockin’ All Over The World
A "Dave Kapp tour" to discuss operational technique was often the first stop for new MTV franchisees from around the world. I received commendations for ops training and consulting provided for executives at MTV Europe, MTV Brazil, MTV Australia, MTV Asia and MTV Latino.
An Ongoing Commitment to Education
In 1988 I decided that I wanted to do more with my life and face new challenges. I entered law school on a full merit scholarship provided by my law school and the Long Island law firm of Siben and Siben. Going to classes at night, I finished law school six months ahead of my classmates, while continuing to work full-time for MTV. After graduation, I opened a law practice on Long Island where I represented local artists and entertainment professionals.
I have since been admitted to practice before the NY State Bar, the Washington DC Bar, the Florida Bar, the US District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, The US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, The Court of Federal Claims, The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
CSN--TV That Jams!
In October 1992, I met with a group of Caribbean businessmen who were attempting to build a television network in Miami, Florida. They were six weeks away from their already-announced launch date, but there were many problems. They had not yet produced any of their own programming for the network. They did not even have a promotional tape to send to advertisers, MSO’s or the press. They had not obtained releases for the small amount of programming they had acquired. Their technical facility was unfinished and worst of all -- even if it could be finished in time, they would be unable to broadcast because of difficulties both technical and legal. (They needed a miracle!) Missing their launch date would spell disaster and time was running out. What they needed was an experienced leader who could step into the situation and immediately turn things around. One month before launch, I took charge of programming, production, operations and engineering and began to train a Caribbean crew (that had no commercial television experience) to become management of an internationally-viewed television network. During November of 1992 countless changes were made to insure that a quality broadcast would reach a vast audience:
"Miami Vice" Star and CSN spokesman Phlip Michael Thomas.
The first priority was to produced their desperately needed promotional tape. Construction of the flawed facility was halted. Inadequate satellite transponders were replaced with better ones. Uplink and downlink providers were replaced. An entirely different facility was found and then remodeled to provide production studio, tape library, master control, edit suites, multi-format tape transfers, computer graphics, outside broadcast trucks, emergency generator, uninterruptible power supply and offices. On-air talent, programming, studio, operations, editing, traffic and engineering staff were hired locally.
VJ Charlie Smith, Mark Wahlberg, and me in 1992
The “impossible” job of rescuing this network took only one month. Their production studio and operations center was completed in 15 days. Best of all, CSN, THE CARIBBEAN SATELLITE NETWORK was launched on-schedule on December 1, 1992. The network touched audiences in the Caribbean, the United States, Latin America, Northern South America and Southern Canada via satellite. For the first time in history, the peoples of the Caribbean and their families living in the U.S. and Canada could share their music, news, culture, arts and political views on a hemispheric scale.
As Vice President, Broadcasting, my staff and I produced long-form features, sports, concerts and interviews to enhance a rock-steady diet of the best Reggae, Soca, Calypso, Zouk, Latin, and African/World music videos. Public affairs programs, live remote broadcasts and a live evening newscast were added soon after the launch. Innovative strategies to generate revenues were put in place.
Commercial production services were provided for outside clients and CSN ad-sales clients alike, often as an incentive for Caribbean advertisers. An underground fiber optics studio-to-transmitter link was excavated in 1994. It was my dream job come true.
Q2 - QVC in NYC!
I returned to New York City in 1995 to join the world leader in electronic retailing, QVC, as Vice President, Broadcast Operations for their sister network, Q2. This was no ceramic-poodle-hocking-network for the trailer park grannies though; the Q2 concept brought the highest television production values to the home shopping format. At their two NYC sound stages, elaborate sets, lighting, state-of- the-art equipment, camerawork and network-quality live direction were provided to replace the vapid home shopping experience seen on other channels. Daily broadcasts included phone-ins, performances, remotes and (of course) fully demonstrated interactive selling of products. Q2 programs often originated from one of two rooftop garden terraces overlooking the spectacular New York City skyline.
Live shows made up a full 17 hours of each broadcast day. Tapes of the live shows would re-air during late night hours. Like at CSN, any down-time was put to good use. Outside commercial production by my Q2 crew was seen on QVC in the U.S. and on M6 BOUTIQUE/CANAL PLUS throughout France and Belgium.
Strange But True!
On June 6, 1996,this bloated attorney even appeared as a guest on The Howard Stern Show, using fourteen-and-a-half of my fifteen minutes of fame to bring "The King of All Media" a taste of what O.J. Simpson was doing on Caribbean TV in the time between his criminal and civil trials. Satanic numerologists will correctly deduce that the nature and timing of this infamous event, (6/6/96) is proof that the world is coming to an end.
Broadcast Consulting / Legal Services
I have been guest speaker at the Billboard International Music Conference and at Universities and industry conferences throughout New York and Florida. I have given a seminar for felllow attorneys on copyright (2005) the issues surrounding NAPSTER (December 2000) and also (in April 2000) a seminar for artists and attorneys on how to promote artists on the internet as co-chair the Suffolk County (NY) Bar Association Entertainment and Sports Law Committee. Over the years and by necessity, (no doubt due to my exposure to the entertainment industry) I have become well versed in the Vehicle and Traffic Law of New York State and defense of DWI charges.
Still reading this self-serving propaganda? Well then, you deserve a reward! How 'bout some photos of me with the biggest stars in reggae and Caribbean music? - Enjoy!
Here's dancehall superstar BUJU BANTON on the set at CSN.
Jamaica's most stirring and powerful voice, BARRINGTON LEVY on the set at CSN.
The greatest front man in UK reggae, DAVID HINDS OF STEEL PULSE on the set at CSN.
Soca King, ARROW on the set at CSN.
Calypso King, THE MIGHTY SPARROW on the set at CSN.
The next Bob Marley, BANKIE BANX of Anguilla on the set at CSN.
TINGA "The Singa" STEWART on the set at CSN.
I sure hope you caught my friend RED FOX on tour with Maxi Priest!
RICHIE STEPHENS on the set at CSN.
The thinking mans reggae star - SHINEHEAD.
Make way for the Don Raja, world-wide reggae music innovator - APAHCE INDIAN.