Monroe “Monty” Rifkin had a choice to make one afternoon in the spring of 1959. He could finish the sandwich on his desk in the TelePrompTer Inc. offices near New York’s Times Square. Or, he could meet the promoter from Denver waiting in the outer office to speak with whomever was in charge about something called community antenna television.
Despite his reservations about having his lunch interrupted, Rifkin recalled liking Bill Daniels almost from the moment the stocky Westerner with his signature tailored suit and pocket handkerchief strode across the office, shook his hand, and got right to the point. He had been referred to Kahn and TelePrompTer by Television Digest editor Marty Kordell. Daniels had read about the company’s closed-circuit televised fights and wanted to talk to TelePrompTer about a related opportunity: community antenna television, or CATV. “What’s that?” asked Rifkin, who like most Americans, especially those living in cities and towns served by broadcast television, had never heard of CATV.
The technology pitch was intriguing, but what especially interested Rifkin was the economics of the fledgling industry. Not surprisingly, Daniels argued that the CATV industry presented a great buying opportunity.
After visiting several of the systems Daniels was looking to sell, Rifkin was sold. First, he convinced Irving Kahn, CEO of TelePrompTer, to invest heavily in cable. In 1963, he went to work for Bill Daniels’ management company, Daniels and Associates, learning how to operate systems, grow and build new ones. From then on, his involvement in and influence on the cable industry would only increase.