In Memoriam: Harold Channer
Legendary community producer Harold Channer, whose pioneering public access show featured a Who’s Who of New York’s intellectual, cultural and political life for nearly 50 years, passed away on New Year’s Eve at the Montrose VA Center in the Hudson Valley. He was 86-years-old.
He leaves behind his beloved partner, Maggie Borges, a daughter Lisa of Minneapolis, a son David of Berkeley, California, and an extraordinary community of media colleagues in NYC and internationally.
“Harold distinguished himself as a dynamic and cutting-edge producer, always in search of new frontiers, new truths and new ways of ensuring human progress,” said Dan Coughlin, CEO of Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN). “His commitment to MNN, to community media and the legions of local producers reflected his unbound curiosity, his optimism in the power of ideas, and his fervent belief in the potential for human growth and transformation, no matter how bleak the picture.”
His weekly program, Conversations with Harold Hudson Channer, began airing on Manhattan public access TV in 1973 and carried over to MNN in 1992. During that time, Harold produced more than 2,200 one-hour episodes of Conversations.
Harold’s guests featured a peerless array of world leaders and politicians, artists, advocates and diverse intellectuals. They ranged from Isaac Asimov to Buckminster Fuller; Secretary of State Casper Weinberger to National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski; Colonel Muamaar Gaddafi to President Yasser Arafat; Ani DeFranco to Gordon Parks; Cornel West to Abbie Hoffman; Timothy Leary to Ambassador Andrew Young, and Vice President Hubert Humphrey to Carter Emmart, the Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History.
Long time MNN staffer and Program Director Jeannette Santiago said that staff would joke that there was hardly a major figure in New York that hadn’t been on Harold’s Show. "What made Harold special is that he could hold a conversation with me or you and it would be just as compelling and intriguing as it would be with any one the high-profile intellectuals that appeared on his program,” she said.
Channer’s love for public access TV and local media led him to serve on the MNN Board in the 1990s. His open values and ideals were a perfect fit for an organization committed to providing the Manhattan media making community with the production tools to have their voices heard on local television.
And while Channer was both a broadcaster of unparalleled talent and a passionate advocate for causes he believed in, it was his generous ability to connect with the MNN community that many of his colleagues will remember him for. Among other things, his annual December holiday party was an annual highlight for the community of artists, entrepreneurs, intellectuals and media makers that made up his peers.
"While we not only send our best wishes and deepest condolences to the Channer family, we also celebrate Harold’s life, work and the companionship he showed us,” added MNN CEO Dan Coughlin. “Harold will be missed, but we are all better for having known him.”
A memorial event is being planned and details will follow.
In the meantime, Harold’s family has asked that those wishing to honor the work and memory of Harold Channer with a contribution can do so with a donation to MNN.