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1947 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
JAMES J. "JIM" CORNO Sr. Obituary
James J. "Jim" Corno, Sr., age 66, a resident of Naperville and Hinsdale, IL, died Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at Edward Hospital in Naperville after a long and courageous bout with cancer. He was born April 5, 1947 in St. Louis, MO. Jim leaves behind the love of his life since he was 14, his wife, Carolyn (nee Daily) Corno, whom he married August 12, 1966. He was the loving father of James J. "Jim" (Lora) Corno, Jr. of Batavia, IL and Christina (Bennett) West of Naperville, adored grandfather of Jackson, Max, Mitchell, Joseph and Scott, devoted son of the late Bernard and Alberta Corno, dear brother of Bernard (Shirley) Corno Jr. of O'Fallon, MO, Philomena Corno of Asheville, NC and the late Annina Kramer and the late Marie Corno Gabriel, fond uncle of many. Jim was a pioneer and respected broadcasting executive for over three decades. Simply put, every regional sports network Chicago has ever known -- SportsVision, SportsChannel, Fox Sports Net and Comcast SportsNet -- have been run by only one individual: Jim Corno. From his humble upbringing in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, Jim Corno knew that television was his destiny. His older brother Bernie worked at KPLR-TV in the early 1960s and was able to find a way to get his younger brother a job at the station. Jim actually got his start in television in the mailroom. But it didn't matter to Jim what he did, the fact that he "got in" was all he needed. He was relentless in his approach at KPLR in wanting to learn everything about how to run a television station. From the programming department, to the news department, to the editing and control rooms, you name it, Jim honed his skills to a point that he was ready to take on his next challenge. He left St. Louis in 1974 to work for Post-Newsweek Stations as Operations Manager at WTOP-TV; the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC and was quickly promoted to Post-Newsweek's Director of Corporate Operations. In 1978, Corno moved on to WDIV-TV, the NBC affiliate in Detroit, MI, where he advanced to the position of Program Manager. After ten years of working his way up the Post-Newsweek corporate ladder, he became aware that his company was looking into buying into a new regional sports network in Chicago. Jim interviewed in the fall of 1983 for the GM position with and got the job on the spot and came to Chicago to run SportsVision in March of 1984. SportsVision started off as a pay-TV service featuring only live pro games featuring the White Sox, Blackhawks, Bulls and the now-defunct Sting, but Jim knew for his network to grow, he had to have it available to everyone on basic cable. Through tough negotiations with countless affiliates, he made it happen. Subscriber growth was small at the start - only 13,000 total, but it was his vision to make it grow. He wanted everyone who could possibly receive his network to be given the chance to watch it. Once he got them to watch it, he wanted to make sure they came back the next night. With the massive popularity of local sports stars such as Michael Jordan, Denis Savard and Carlton Fisk airing on SportsVision throughout the year, it was Jim's goal to begin programming his channel like a broadcast TV station. Again, he made that happen too. SportsVision became the first regional sports network in the country to go 24/7. As SportsVision evolved into SportsChannel in the late 1980s, Jim also created another first for a regional sports network as "The SportsChannel Report" became the first all-local sports news show airing seven nights a week...not to mention he made a very smart move of bringing the ground-breaking "Sports Writers on TV" along for the ride as well. More evolutions came into play as Fox Sports Net Chicago launched in 1998 and Jim was ready to make that transition a big splash as well. Through his business savvy and gift for team relationships, he negotiated to have 70+ Cubs games a year move from its longtime home at WGN-TV to his network starting in 1999. When the Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox were given an opportunity to opt out of their contract with Fox Sports Net and partner with Comcast to form a brand new regional sports network, there was only one man they wanted to start it up. With the latest transition, Jim launched his fourth regional sports network -- Comcast SportsNet Chicago -- on October 1, 2004. The city's acclaimed 24-hour sports television network, Comcast SportsNet has provided in-depth game, pre-game, and post-game coverage for the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox, plus Bears post-game analysis. In addition, the network launched SportsNet Central, the area's most comprehensive nightly local sports news show. Jim Corno's impact on Chicago television has been nothing short of monumental. He was a visionary, a pioneer, a man who loved knowing that his network was being watched by thousands of viewers each and every night. Jim received numerous National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Emmy Awards over the years, but he was truly honored when he received the NATAS "Silver Circle" induction for 25 years of excellence and dedication in Chicago television in 2010. That same year, Jim was also inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and, just last year, he was inducted into the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. One of Jim's biggest moments of pride throughout his career was when he knew he was helping out those less fortunate than him. Among hundreds of charities he's assisted over the years, it was the annual "Sports Awards" dinner benefiting the March of Dimes that Jim was most proud of in his illustrious career. Through his support, direction and leadership, the "Sports Awards" grew to become the biggest sports charity function in the city, raising over $10 million over the past 25 years. Those were the kinds of things that mattered to Jim. He always wanted to make a difference in someone's life...and he did. Private family services will be held. A public celebration of Jim's life is being planned with details to follow soon. Interment: Private. In lieu of flowers, the Corno family has asked donations be made to: Oncology Fund, c/o Edward Foundation, 801 S. Washington St., Naperville, IL 60540, (630) 527-3954, www.edward.org/foundation "In Honor of Jim Corno Sr." on memo line. Arrangements by Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Naperville, IL. For info. 630-355-0213, www.friedrich-jones.com.
Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on Dec. 15, 2013
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