John Higgins, longtime journalist and business editor of Broadcasting & Cable magazine, died Monday of a heart attack in a New Jersey hospital. He was 45.
Higgins joined B&C in 1997 from Multichannel News, where he was a pioneer of the cable TV beat. He was a talented and tough reporter, known in the media industry for his in-depth knowledge of the business and for his tenacity.
When Time Warner chairman-CEO Richard Parsons was inducted into the B&C Hall of Fame last year, he mused about assuming his place in a grand hall with busts of great men who’d been inducted before him.
“What most people don’t know,” Parsons told a crowd at Gotham’s Waldorf Astoria, “is that the B&C Hall of Fame is actually in John Higgins’ basement in Hoboken, N.J.” He brought down the house.
B&C, a Reed Business Information sister publication to Daily Variety, was inundated with calls Tuesday from friends, fellow journalists and CEOs of the world’s biggest media companies, said J. Max Robins, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
“He was fearless,” Robins said. Particularly at press conferences, “If there was a white elephant in the room, he’d say, ‘What’s with the white elephant?’
“I thought he was a terrific journalist,” former FCC chairman Richard Wiley told B&C. “There was a certain edge to his writing that was appropriate. He got right to the point. He was a keen analyst, and I will really miss reading his material. I’m shocked and saddened by his passing.”
Beneath the swagger, Higgins was a kind and gentle man who nurtured young reporters and worked at soup kitchens during holidays without fanfare. He was quick with a compliment — for a story well done or for a colleague’s leather jacket. At the office, he loved to talk shop, analyze the day’s events and enjoy a spot of gossip.
Higgins is survived by his wife, Deborah Marrone, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission.