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Shoah Salute: Personal Meaning for Comcast CEO

May 4, 2011 By:
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Brian L. Roberts

Why is this interview different from others? Because Brian L. Roberts, the Philly-born chairman and CEO of media giant Comcast Corp., rarely does interviews.

But in the spirit of this post-Passover period, Roberts, 51, who will accept the USC Shoah Foundation Institute's 2011 Ambassador for Humanity Award at a gala in Philadelphia on May 9, agreed to answer four questions by email.

Comcast, under your guidance and that of your father -- Comcast co-founder Ralph J. Roberts -- has long had a history of giving back to the community. Why does this Shoah Foundation honor (to be presented by Steven Spielberg, foundation founder and gala chairman) mean to you?

"Our partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute is a terrific example of how we can use our technology to bring awareness to an organization with a powerful mission.

"My father, Ralph, is of the generation that lived through the Holocaust. Dan Aaron, my father's business partner and one of the great mentors in my life, was a Holocaust refugee, and his world was forever altered by his family's experience. That is why it's profoundly important that we never forget. And thanks to the important work the USC Shoah Foundation Institute is doing, we never will."

You're a star Maccabiah athlete. Ever think of a comeback in an upcoming games? (Roberts took home a gold as part of the U.S. squash team in 2005, preceded by silver medals in three other games.)

"The Maccabiah Games have been an important part of my life for decades. I was just 21 when I first had the honor to represent the United States (in 1981) as a member of our squash team. I will never forget the surge of patriotism I felt when I marched into the stadium for the opening ceremony. Four years later, I was back in Israel playing once again for the U.S. squash team. It was on that trip I asked my wife, Aileen, to marry me.

"I didn't win the gold, but I won something better -- she accepted."

What were your favorite TV shows growing up in Philly? Your favorite NBC shows? (Comcast recently assumed majority ownership of NBC Universal.)

"Picking a favorite NBC television show is like trying to pick your favorite child. It's not possible."

Finally, who do you turn to when your cable goes out?

"My cable never goes out."

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