Thomas S. Murphy

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Thomas S. Murphy "was chair and chief executive officer of Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. until 1996 when Disney bought the company and Murphy retired. Murphy built Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. into a multibillion dollar international media conglomerate. In addition to leading Capital Cities from its days as a small television holding company to its present position as a media empire, Murphy distinguished himself as a responsible corporate citizen by emphasizing public service.

"After service in the U.S. Navy, a Harvard MBA, and five years at Kenyon & Eckhardt and Lever Brothers, Murphy began his broadcasting career with a little help from his father's friends. The legendary broadcaster, Lowell Thomas, and Thomas's business manager, Frank Smith and a few other investors started Hudson Valley Broadcasting. They needed a station manager and turned to their friend's ambitious son.

"In 1954, at the age of 29, Murphy assumed duties as the first employee, the station manager, at WROW-TV in Albany, New York. This station and its sister radio station, WROW-AM were the Hudson Valley Broadcasting Company. It took nearly three years of red ink before the station saw a profit. As the company evolved into Capital Cities and eventually into Capital Cities/ ABC, Inc. it consistently made money. One share of this company in 1957 would have cost $5.75. In 1996, it would be worth more than $12,000.

"In 1960, chair Frank Smith moved Murphy to New York City, as executive vice president of Capital Cities. In 1964 Murphy was named president. With Smith's death in 1966, Thomas Murphy became chair and chief executive officer. Three cornerstones of Murphy's management philosophy included fiscal responsibility, de-centralized local responsibility, and social responsibility. Additionally, he always tried to hire people smarter than himself. Murphy attributed much of his success to what he learned from Smith.

"For the next two decades Murphy led Capital Cities during a time of fantastic growth. In 1985, Capital Cities became the minnow that swallowed the whale when it announced that it was merging with the highly visible ABC. At the time this was the largest merger of media companies in history. Capital Cities/ABC reclaimed this record about ten years later when it merged with the Disney Company." [1]

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  1. Thomas S. Murphy, Museum TV, accessed December 9, 2007.
  2. Trustees, New York University, accessed June 16, 2010.