National Press Club

Discovery's Hendricks offers roadmap for entrepreneurs

July 1, 2013 | By Joseph Luchok |

Entrepreneurs have to go "all in" to find success, Discovery Communications founder Rick Hendricks told a National Press Club audience on Thursday, June 27.

Hendricks, executive chairman of Discovery Communications, in conversation with award-winning TV anchor Paula Zahn, discussed his book “A Curious Discovery: An Entrepreneur’s Story.” He said he wrote the book to give people an understanding of entrepreneurship and provide them a roadmap for turning dreams into reality.

Hendricks first became curious about space and science from reading “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet” stories as a child. When his father was transferred to Huntsville, Ala., home of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, he became more immersed in the space program.

The idea for Discovery Channel occurred to him during a work-study job in college, where he ordered films for professors, he said. He watched a number of documentaries and wondered why they could not be shown on television.

In 1982, with cable channels such as HBO, MTV and CNN on the air, he thought why not have a cable station about science? When he told his wife the idea she responded, “If this is such a good idea why hasn’t ted Turner done it?”

Hendricks pushed on -- raising money and launching Discovery on June 17, 1985, with only enough money to stay on the air for five months. He survived, raised more money and eventually expanded. The channel is now seen in 243 countries.

Henricks and Zahn were introduced by Rick Dunham, past president of the National Press Club and outgoing president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute.