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Farewell, Brian Lamb: C-SPAN exec to retire next month

If you have any sort of interest in U.S. politics, you will know the face and voice of Brian Lamb, the 70 year-old CEO of the C-SPAN networks. Today, he announced that he will resign as chief executive effective April 1.

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Brian Lamb, who created the revolutionary nonprofit cable television network C-Spanin the late 1970s and has been its public face ever since, is handing it over to two lieutenants, Rob Kennedy and Susan Swain.

Effective April 1, they will become the co-chief executives of C-Span and Mr. Lamb will become the executive chairman, formalizing a management change that has been years in the making. Mr. Lamb will continue to host “Q&A,” his Sunday night interview program, and will pursue other interests, like teaching.

The announcement will come on Monday, 33 years to the day that C-Span — short for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network — came onto cable television, predating CNN and ESPN.

There is no way to describe quickly the influence Lamb had on American politics. Before C-SPAN, the world knew of the workings of Congress only what the MSM told it. Lamb changed that when he began televising every minute of the House of Representatives’ proceedings on C-SPAN in 1979  and later added Senate proceedings on a second station in 1986.

Since then, Lamb expanded the network to a third television channel and a radio station. The entire network is still funded the same way it was when it began — by a small fee paid per subscriber by cable and satellite providers.

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There is no way to calculate the influence Lamb has had on politics and media with his creation. The word “immense” comes closest. What can be said with surety is that he has remained scrupulously neutral in his work and that he is, by every report, a man of great character and integrity. He’ll continue on at C-SPAN with his very good “Q&A” show, so he will not be gone entirely, but we will miss him nonetheless.

Let’s close with two interesting bits of trivia: 1) C-SPAN is an acronym that stands for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network and 2) the first speech televised on C-SPAN was given by Senator Al Gore, Jr. (D – TN).

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