WASHINGTON - Rob Kennedy, a Springfield native,
has been named co-president of C-SPAN, the
public affairs cable television network based
Kennedy, 50, who graduated from Springfield
High School in 1974, said his childhood years in
the state capital fueled his love of politics
"Looking back, I think that's one of the
reasons that C-SPAN is such a good fit for me,"
Kennedy said in a telephone interview.
The announcement of Kennedy's promotion to
co-president, along with Susan Swain, was made
last week by C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, who will
continue to serve as C-SPAN's chairman and chief
"Our board is recognizing these two
professionals for the work they already do,
while also taking an important step toward an
eventual transition to new corporate
leadership," Lamb said in a statement issued by
Kennedy and Swain, 51, will retain their
current responsibilities as co-chief operating
The two have worked together for almost two
decades and have served as co-chief operating
officers since 1995. Kennedy focuses on finance,
engineering and technology, and affiliate
relations. Swain's responsibilities include
programming for C-SPAN'S three TV stations, its
radio station and the network's marketing.
C-SPAN, which employs 265 people in
Washington, was created by the cable television
industry in 1978 and launched its first public
affairs channel in 1979. Today, its flagship
channel, C-SPAN, can be seen in nearly 91
million cable and satellite homes and worldwide
on the Internet.
Kennedy said his interest in business and
technology grew out of summers he spent working
at his family's business.
Kennedy's grandfather, William Schnirring,
started Springfield Electric Supply Co., an
electrical supply company headquartered at Ninth
Street and Enos Avenue.
His uncle, also named William Schnirring,
currently runs the family business, and his
brother, John, works there. His mother, Marilyn
Kennedy, is retired but still lives in town.
"I've always been interested in engineering
and electricity, and I probably got that from my
family," he said.
But he also enjoyed the business side, which
led him to obtain an MBA. "I still look back at
those summers in the warehouse as being
formative to seeing how businesses are run and
how important people are to everything that's
done, and so I think it's all connected," he
Kennedy's promotion sets the stage for a
smooth transition when Lamb chooses to leave
"I also think it's an interesting time for
C-SPAN, not unlike the early '80s, in that
C-SPAN faces a lot of challenges in the future.
We have a great foundation and great financial
backing from the cable industry, which funds us
as a public service," he said.
"But in the future, with the explosion of the
Internet and with all of the new technologies
that are available to people who want to get
their news in different ways - more mobile, more
personal ways to get public affairs and news -
we have to find a way to make C-SPAN just as
relevant ... So, there are a lot of challenges
in the future," Kennedy said.
Swain has been an on-air moderator, but
Kennedy prefers to stay behind the scenes.
"It's not me. Those who remember me from
Springfield High School will remember me as
someone who was quiet. They won't be surprised,"
They might be surprised to hear he also plays
in a blues band.
"I don't sing," he said. "I just sort of stay
in the background and try to help keep things
Kennedy recalled with a chuckle how he and
his younger brother made the front page of The
State Journal-Register in the early '60s when
they were registering for Butler Elementary
The caption was "John and Bobbie Kennedy
register for school here," he said.
His younger sister, Janice Kennedy Singer,
lives in Dallas.
Dori Meinert can be reached at (202) 737-7686