Preston Davis, ABC Ops and Engineering President, Dead at 63
Preston A. Davis, the president of Broadcast Operations & Engineering for the ABC Television Network Group since 1993 and a 35-year veteran of the company, has died at the age of 63. A native of Norfolk, Virginia, he is survived by his wife, Michelle, and two children, Ashley and Preston III.
Davis was a true pioneer who helped steer ABC engineering from analog to digital and eventually to HD and also was the first African-American to hold any president title within the company.
Richard Wolf, ABC Broadcast Operations and Engineering, SVP, Telecommunications and Network Origination Services, says that Davis was a pillar of strength, character and leadership.
“Blending superb hard and soft skills, Preston treated everyone he touched with a sense of dignity that was blind to where one may fit in the corporate structure, the size of their office or the title they may hold,” he said. “He was a champion of mutual respect and was beloved by the employees he led and the industry that was so much a part of his extraordinary life. He will be so very much missed but we are all better off to have had Preston Davis in our lives.”
Davis joined ABC in 1976, beginning as an engineer in Washington DC, and subsequently moving into various positions of increasing responsibility involving field and studio operations in Washington, Atlanta, and New York. In 1988, he was promoted to Vice President, Television Operations, East Coast, where he directed the efforts of studio and field operations, electronic newsgathering, telecommunications and the RF Operations & Engineering Group.
Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, recalls that he started at ABC around the same time as Davis.
“He was a talented and tenacious leader who earned wide respect for his abilities, and was revered for his impeccable integrity. When I had to choose someone to lead BO&E into the future, there was no question Preston was the right person, and he led that team to great achievements for the better part of two decades. Preston was a class act and a great guy who had a tremendous impact on everyone who knew him.”
Davis’ responsibilities involved not only day-to-day network broadcast operations, but also the technical planning support required for numerous news, sports, and entertainment special events, including presidential elections for the primaries through Inauguration Day, and also major sporting events, including Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl. He oversaw ABC’s multi-year transition from analog to digital technology, including the launch of the network’s high-definition television broadcasts.
Mr. Davis served in the U.S. Army as a specialist in communications technology and is a veteran of the Vietnam War.