John E. “Jack” Bowen III, former president and chairman of the television news consulting firm McHugh & Hoffman Inc., one of the pioneers in the use of research in the television industry and instrumental in elevating women into the role of anchors, passed away on Saturday, March 3, in Washington, D.C., following a long battle […]
John E. “Jack” Bowen III, former president and chairman of the television news consulting firm McHugh & Hoffman Inc., one of the pioneers in the use of research in the television industry and instrumental in elevating women into the role of anchors, passed away on Saturday, March 3, in Washington, D.C., following a long battle with cancer.
Bowen applied his long-term TV research and marketing experience to assist local stations/networks in researching audience viewing habits; developing program strategies and news information concepts; and orchestrating stations’ promotion, marketing and image development.
From 1955 to 1968, Bowen worked for the Campbell-Ewald advertising agency in Detroit, rising to the position of vice president, serving in a number of key executive positions overseeing radio/television research, television program development, media strategy planning and research for accounts that included General Motors, Chevrolet, and Firestone Tire & Rubber.
In 1968 he left Campbell-Ewald to become advertising director of William B. Saxbe’s successful Ohio senatorial campaign. Saxbe later became US Attorney General and then Ambassador to India.
Following the 1968 election, Bowen joined McHugh & Hoffman as vice president.
In 1970 Bowen left McHugh & Hoffman to become president of Bailey, Deardourff & Bowen, in Washington, D.C., a newly formed political campaign and advertising company with partners Douglas Bailey and John Deardourff.
Bowen rejoined McHugh & Hoffman in 1973, becoming president in 1985, and chairman and CEO in 1988. During this period, he was the senior consultant on such accounts that included the ABC-owned stations, the NBC-owned stations, Group W/Westinghouse Broadcasting, Media General and Post-Newsweek. Along with these accounts, Bowen was increasingly involved developing M&H’s international business in the 1990s. He was the news and research consultant to SBT Network in Brazil, Caracol TV in Columbia, and TGRT, Turkey. In addition to developing and supervising TV studies for TGRT, Bowen also developed and supervised a Turkish political assessment study, a digital platform study, and a Turkish newspaper study for Ihlas Holding.
Bowen used his research to promote the first hiring of female anchors. One of his successes was to help engineer the turn-around of KYW-TV Philadelphia, then an NBC affiliate owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting Co. His research suggested that Jessica Savitch be named a co-anchor on KYW’s weeknight newscasts. Savitch’s “Q” scores were high, as were her ratings. In 1977, NBC News hired Savitch, which made her the second female network anchor after Barbara Walters, in 1976.
Leaving McHugh & Hoffman in 1999, Bowen assisted in the establishment of Convergent Communications Consultants until December 2002 when he retired.
However, he has continued to be involved in various projects relating to satellite television in the Middle East. In 2003, he analyzed media studies on five Middle East countries for Radio Sawa, the Arabic-language satellite music and news radio station heard in 22 countries in the Middle East, and for the development of Alhurra, the Arabic-language news and information satellite TV channel launched in 2003 by the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, also seen in 22 countries, with a reach of over 20 million viewers. Both Radio Sawa and Alhurra are funded by the U.S. Government.
During 2004-05, he was supervising and analyzing media studies on eight Middle East countries for the development of an Arabic-language commercial satellite television channel launched in 2006 and he continued to be a consultant with that client until his death.
In his spare time, he volunteered at the Washington National Cathedral as a docent, two days per week, as well as being one of four docents to give specially-requested architectural tours.
He is survived by his wife, Anne, two children and one grandchild.
Services will be held at 4 p.m., Monday, March 19, at St. Albans Episcopal Church on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to:
Washington National Cathedral Docent Fund
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Washington, D.C. 20816
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