Click here for the official Westwood Village Rotary Club Website

  Program Chairs:
  Elliott Turner & Sean McMillan
FEBRUARY 16, 2006   

February 23:

"Rotary Foundation"

March 2:

"War Crimes"

Program for...
Thursday, February 23
"Rotary Foundation"
Steve Day

Coming Programs
March 2: "War Crimes"
Pierre Richard Prosper

March 9: "Cuba Revisited"
Chris Bradford

March 16: "Dream Street Foundation"
Lenny Roberts

Mark Your Calendar
March 3-4: Corozon House
Build a house in a Day in Mexico

A FAST TALKER at WVRC on February 16th

But before we get to that, JACK HARRIS led us in the Pledge. JACK stayed up there, and was joined by PP JIM DOWNIE and LENNY FRIEDMAN.  Thus we had a duet at the piano, with LENNY leading us through America.  Next up was ELLIOTT TURNER, who was announced as giving the Invocation. Those of us who know ELLIOTT were perhaps a bit apprehensive about what might happen next, but – surprise – we received a straightforward message.  Before he began he held us in some suspense for another reason – were we to be seated or left standing?  Someone asked if we could sit, and ELLIOTT replied, “Just a minute, I’m in charge here”. Finally permission was granted.

“Lord, make us instruments of your peace, where doubt, let us bring faith, Grant that we may desire to console, rather than to be consoled, to love rather than to be loved” Nicely done, ELLIOTT, even though the ones who feared what he might provide were surprised.

President Don announced a Rotaract fundraiser benefiting their group at Occidental College.  It will be on Feb 24th, 6 to 8:30 pm at 650 N. Bronson.  Cost is $35. and DON has more details.  There were no Visiting Rotarians, but I had a Special Guest.  He is Barry Marlin, a neighbor of mine in Century City, and we met through our dogs – and I’ll let you figure that one out.  Anyway, Barry enjoyed the meeting.

DON had a story, this one a bit on the risqué side.  Seems this guy called home, and a young voice answered.  “Hi honey, this is Daddy – is your Mommy near the phone?” 

“No, Daddy, she’s upstairs in the bedroom with Uncle Frank”.  He pauses, “But honey, you haven’t got an Uncle Frank”.  “Oh yes I do, and he’s upstairs in the room with Mommy, right now”.  Again, he pauses, “Uh, OK then, this is what I want you to do. Run upstairs and knock on the bedroom door, and shout to Mommy that Daddy’s car just pulled into the driveway”.  “OK, Daddy, just a minute.”  A few minutes later, the little girl comes back to the phone.  “I did it, Daddy”.  “And what happened, honey?” he asked. “Well, Mommy got all scared, jumped out of bed with no clothes on and ran around screaming.  Then she tripped over the rug, hit her head on the dresser and now she isn’t moving at all!”  “Oh my God!  What about your Uncle Frank?”  “He jumped out of bed with no clothes on too.  He was all scared and he jumped out of the back window and into the swimming pool.  But I guess he didn’t know that you took out the water last week to clean it.  He hit the bottom of the pool and I think he’s dead”.  Long pause, then another longer pause. Then Daddy says, “Swimming pool?? Is this 656-7039??”

SEAN McMILLAN introduced our speaker, Paul James. SEAN pointed out that Paul had two jobs – one with Direct TV and the other as Treasurer of their Condominium Association.  This latter one means he always does his best to keep expenses down, and SEAN is grateful for this help.  Paul also has the best of two worlds – he has a BA in business economics from UCLA, plus his MBA from USC. SEAN suggested we ask Paul later who he roots for in the SC-UCLA game!  He has been with Direct TV in various financial positions since the concept began to form in the early 80’s.

SEAN ran the projector while Paul told his story.  There was a lot of talking, which he encouraged, and he spent some time being sure we understood that what he said wasn’t necessarily Gospel.  “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story”. He also briefly told a similar story to DON’S where the punch line was, “Whose cell phone IS this?”

These disclaimers brought on a full page – literally – of agate type, which I’m sure, covered every possible misinterpretation that could be found in his presentation. While the following visuals were attractive, the type was too small to be read unless you were in the front row.  He began by asking several questions, which we were to answer by raising our hands – this to give him a flavor of what kind of audience we might be.  He apparently found that we were fairly typical of the groups to whom he speaks – the title being, Direct TV – its origin and future.

In the 80’s there was a company called Hughes Aircraft, which was owned by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. They were not focused on financial performance, but on research and development in electronics.  So Hughes Aircraft was sold to GM, based on their products being counter-cyclical to the ups and downs of the automobile business.

Their products were supposed to be used in cars, being relatively small.  In 1963 Hughes had developed the first satellites, and these continued to grow and improve.  They originated the concept of their owning the satellite, and leasing parts of it to those commercial firms that wanted to participate.  This was under the umbrella of Hughes Communications.

At the same time they were building this fleet of satellites, they began to question what they could do with their unused capacity – and that’s where Direct TV and its compatriots came into the picture.  This was called Direct Broadcast Satellite.  They filed for the appropriate licenses, and were thus able to beam directly to the owner of a dish.

This meant that installing such dishes came into vogue (even though you could attach your own dish, if you so desired).  This culminated in 1991 in the birth of Direct TV and other similar services. At one point it was the fastest growing consumer electronic product since the VCR.  And while the manufacture of dishes was profitable, the servicing of them was much more profitable – this was the way to go.

As the defense business began to decline, they got out of it – selling most of the operation to Raytheon. By the late 90’s they were focused on growing the Direct TV business.  They brought in a couple of partners, with buy-ins of $125 million each, and by the end of the 90’s they were serving five million customers.  But they realized they were giving away too much of the profit, even while they were converting from manufacturing six foot satellite dishes into18 inch dishes.  So they sold the manufacturing business to Boeing. Direct TV was acquired by Murdock’s News Corporation in late 1993 after several years of regulatory reviews. That’s where it is today, completely in the consumer services business.

Where does it go from here?  They started with two satellites, now have six more, and will add another two early in 2007.  The DDR will fully replace the VCR (but don’t ask ME what a DDR is!)  They now have 225 channels available.  They are involved with FM Radio.  Their customer service is much better than that provided by cable.  And in 2007, with the two new satellites, they will have more capacity than cable does today.  ELLIOTT TURNER asked what you do to sign up, and the reply was that Verizon, for instance, can sell you Direct TV with all options included. And my final comment – I hope I haven’t confused my readers with all these facts – which, as you may recall, were not necessarily to be taken as Gospel.

—YOE, Ernie Wolfe


Don A. Nelson

President Elect
Michael Gintz

Vice President
Christopher Bradford

Sean M. McMillan

Gordon A. Fell

Executive Secretary
Ernie Wolfe

Past President
Rodolfo Alvarez

Community Service Chair
Margaret Bloomfield

International Service Chair
Edwin S. Gauld

Membership Chair
Shane Waarbroek

Vocational Service Chair
Lee J. Dunayer

Youth Service Chair
Ann Samson



Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammar

    Ingo Werk

Monday, Beverly Hills, BH Hotel, 9641 Sunset
Tuesday, WLA/Brentwood, Chez Mimi, 246 26th St, Santa Monica
Wednesday, Century City, Century Plaza Hotel, or
    Culver City, Wyndham Hotel, 6333 Bristol Parkway, CC, or
    Wilshire, The Ebell, 743 S. Lucerne Blvd, LA
Friday, Santa Monica, Riviera Country Club, 1250Capri Dr, Pacific Palisades