May 26, 2011  |  

by Glenn Minnis

Spewing from the entrepreneurial well that is the mind of Curtis Symonds has long been the rather simplistic notion that necessity serves as the mother of all invention and innovation. And since his days as a student athlete and returning lettermen at Ohio’s Central State University, he’s always been resolute in his belief that there is both a niche and clamor for increased exposure among History Black Colleges and Universities athletic programs.

“HBCU students and alums are some of the most loyal and passionate fans you’ll ever cross,” said Symonds, still an ardent follower of their programs more than three decades since he, himself, was taking center court to such unwavering applause. “They bleed the colors of their teams and it’s time all of us got more of what we’ve all been craving for what seems an eternity.”

The networks will be able to showcase the near century-and-a-half history of HBCUs as well as provide advertisers with a clear cut platform for reaching their multicultural high school and college-aged demographic. That magical, almost mythical, opportunity comes in the form of the new Atlanta-based HBCU Network, set to soft launch later this year and become a “stand alone, full-time, 24-7, 365 day a year sports, edutainment and lifestyle network”  by February 2012.

“Our heritage; our legacy; our channel, not only is that our mantra and motto, it’s our heartfelt belief,” said Symonds, who will serve as network CEO and as a National Cable Television Association award winner brings more than 25-years  of expertise to the venture. Fellow industry veterans Clint Evans, Executive Vice President Distribution & Marketing, and Candace Walker, Executive Vice President Programming, will join him at the controls.  Comcast Cable has confirmed ongoing talks with execs about potentially being a carrier.“We expect to be in about 10,000 homes and around 20 footprint states by the time we launch but we’re still encouraging everyone to call their cable operators to make their interest known,” said Symonds, who as a former BET senior level executive once aided the network in growing its subscriber base from 18 to 65 million homes in roughly less than a decade.

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