Program and Strong Alumni Network were Key for Weinberger
By Pete Rosenbery
Ben Weinberger was happy when he arrived in Carbondale in the late 1990s searching for a radio-television production program where he could learn the technical aspects of content creation and could graduate as part of a strong alumni network.
Weinberger, a native of East Greenville, Pa., would use his drive and lessons learned while still in college to launch Digitalsmiths, a multi-million dollar digital media business that began in his college residence hall with help from other Salukis. Most recently, the senior vice president and chief product officer of Sling TV, Weinberger credits former faculty and those experiences with continuing to influence his thinking as he approaches situations with creativity and a focus on positive outcomes.
A 2001 graduate in radio-television production, Weinberger came to SIU Carbondale as a president’s scholar.
Weinberger and his wife, Jill, a 1999 SIU graduate in speech communications from the College of Liberal Arts, live in Chapel Hill, N.C., with their daughter, Gemma.
“I wanted to get a hands-on education that went beyond classroom theory,” he said. “SIUC offered many such experiences. I also knew it was important to network within the industry, and I was impressed that the curriculum was taught by those that have been in industry and offered opportunities for internships and similar experiences.”
There were several faculty members who were influential, Weinberger said. They included Frederick Williams and Scott Furtwengler with the University Honors Program and Scott Hodgson and Pete Riley in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.
“Each of them had the same thing in common -- they promoted creative exploration of thought and unique approaches to problem solving,” he said. “They also showed a passion for learning and knowledge.”
Weinberger was chief executive officer and co-founder of Digitalsmiths, initially a two-person college business. The company became the leader of video search and recommendations, and under Weinberger’s leadership, it developed game-changing video discovery solutions adopted by several of the biggest names in cable, satellite, teleco and broadcast media. In 2014, Digitalsmiths was acquired by TiVo for $135 million to expand on new opportunities to commercialize and deploy TiVo’s cloud-based services and technologies to operators in conjunction with TiVo’s user interface. Weinberger then expanded Digitalsmiths’ efforts to include Latin America and Europe.
Weinberger said Digitalsmiths was “an evolving success” based on hard work and dedication.
“We built an amazingly dedicated and talented team that understood what it meant to focus on the customer,” he said. “It’s important to get your core team correct and constantly listen to the marketplace – then adjust as necessary.”
At Sling TV Weinberger oversees all aspects of product development and management and integrates content strategy through programming and editorial teams.
A member of the MCMA Dean’s Industry Council, Weinberger has been on the SIU Alumni Association Board since 2009. He helped design the organization’s first website. Weinberger said he enjoys working with the university as he is able to and remembers the fun times working on the original siualumni.com website with Gene Green and Mike Dean.
“The SIU Alumni Association will always hold a positive place with me, and I appreciate everything it did for me as a student,” he said.
As MCMA students progress through their careers, Weinberger said it is important for them to never stop exploring and listening.
“It’s amazing what you learn when you really listen,” he said. “Anything is achievable, and often the only difference between success and failure is perseverance.”