Charles W. Henderson is an American media executive, technology executive, and journalist. He is president of media and technology companies NewsRx LLC and ScholarlyMedia LLC. He was co-founder of Video Concert Hall the first nationwide music video TV network. A USA Today cover story named him one of “6 Who Made a Difference.” He has also been on the cover of Billboard magazine.
Early life and education
Henderson was born in Fitzgerald, Georgia, beginning his media career at eleven years old as a paperboy for the Daily Tifton Gazette. In 1964, the campaign manager for the Lyndon Johnson-Hubert Humphrey presidential election heard from a Democratic Party official about fifteen-year-old Henderson’s involvement in civil rights and contacted him to arrange a meeting with Humphrey in Tifton; this led to Henderson’s selection as an inaugural staffer with the federal Project Head Start, which began in 1965.
At 18, he enrolled in the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he wrote news releases at the university’s News Bureau, the university’s Office of Public Relations, and, over the summers, the Georgia Regional Hospital at Atlanta.
While an undergraduate at University of Georgia, he also attended Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, as a grant-funded special student where he first encountered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) located on the Emory campus. An Emory researcher took Henderson to the CDC where he participated in meetings concerning the center’s activities. These contacts helped Henderson later when he began publishing medical newsweeklies.
In addition to his 1971 undergraduate BA in Journalism, Henderson holds a 2006 MFA in English (Creative and Professional Writing) from Western Connecticut State University, Danbury. He was selected for the first week-long Yale Publishing Course. He started working on a doctorate in education at the University of Sussex, and in 2014 completed his PhD in creative writing at University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Lampeter, UK, studying under British playwright Dic Edwards.
Early media projects
Henderson served as press spokesman for the Atlanta city government as director of the Community Affairs Division in the Department of Community and Human Development. subsequently, Bert Lance, then president of The National Bank of Georgia (part of Bank of Credit and Commerce International), appointed him the bank’s first director of public relations and communications. He coordinated press activities while Lance moved to President Carter’s cabinet as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Henderson left the National Bank of Georgia when Lance left the White House in 1977. He then contributed to Atlanta magazine. His bylined articles appeared on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s front page. In 1978 Henderson was selected “Atlantan of the Week” by the Atlanta Gazette. He moved to Washington, D.C. to be staff correspondent for Bloomberg BNA for two years, reporting for Washington Financial Reports and Daily Report for Executives.
Motion pictures and television
TriStar Pictures, shortly after it was created as an independent motion picture company, hired Henderson as its National Publicist, and then as vice president of TriStar Studios. While at TriStar, he was one of three PR professionals selected in 1979 by the News Analysis Institute to receive membership in the “Over-100 Club.” Henderson was said to represent “outstanding accomplishment…and his leadership in the creation, preparation and communication of public relations news.”
Shortly before TriStar was sold to Columbia Pictures and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola in 1982, Henderson left to expand his own media company, Henderson-Crowe Communications, Inc., which founded and produced Video Concert Hall on November 1, 1979. This was the first nationwide music video television network, referred to as the precursor to MTV and VH1. Before then, it was too expensive to secure copyright privileges to air productions. Record labels featured music videos as “promotional ventures” for new albums, and Henderson secured rights to air them on national cable television. It was understood that the airing would help record companies show viewers popular records in order to increase album sales. Content on the TV network included concert footage, studio productions, and guest artists.
According to media reports, by May 1980, the show appeared on more than 400 cable TV systems in 48 states, accessing about 2.5 million homes. While with Video Concert Hall, Henderson was executive producer and writer for the nationwide broadcast TV premiere of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album's first video, Billie Jean. The company also produced the syndicated broadcast TV show Pre-Awards Special, an annual video show concerning the Grammy Awards. After the sale of Pre-Awards Special TV programming to Metromedia, the remaining assets of Video Concert Hall were sold to Georgia Public Television, including the studio equipment at Henderson-Crowe Productions in Atlanta.
In 1984, Henderson returned to news media and created a series of newsweeklies based on the CDC. NewsRx, Henderson's medical newsweekly publishing company, began with the production of AIDS Weekly in 1985. In 2008, Henderson added VerticalNews, a division of newsweeklies that covers non-health related fields. As of 2011, NewsRx publishes 194 newsweeklies on topics including education, finance, aerospace and science. Henderson is executive editor of the 194 newsweeklies. In 2011, Henderson started book publisher, ScholarlyMedia, and its imprint, ScholarlyEditions, which published 3,500 reference book titles in 2011.
In 1984, Henderson was co-executive producer of Halloween Thriller, taped in Hollywood and Atlanta. The TV special aired in the top 20 TV markets and much of the U.S. in October 1984, including TV stations WNEW (New York), WFLD (Chicago), KTTV (Los Angeles), WPLG (Miami), WQTV (Boston), and WXIA (Atlanta), for a total of 150 TV stations. Some disagreed with Henderson’s claim that the TV special contained no violence and no offensive clips although it targeted a mature, 18- to 49-year-old audience. Henderson’s promotional literature said, “Elements include video music of the spirit of Halloween – no violence and no Satanic clips.” The one-hour television special was the national broadcast TV premiere of Thriller album's first video hosted by Thriller album voice, Vincent Price. The showing incorporated the “Billie Jean” cut from Thriller and an appearance by the original cast of the cult-movie classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, who performed the song, “Time Warp.” Ozzy Osbourne also performed “Bark at the Moon” on the national broadcast.
Henderson was criticized for starting the AIDS Weekly newsweekly because the non-governmental publication included policy, research, and statistics that some considered exclusive to the government. Also, the publishing staff included journalists rather than medical professionals. Others praised Henderson for being what the Boston Globe called a necessary “watchdog” publication providing needed information to the public. Henderson strongly opposed influence by pharmaceutical companies and stood against premature reporting of experiments. Henderson reported that on at least five occasions, research on the causes of AIDS and other viral diseases at the CDC might have been tampered with.
In 2010, Henderson’s NewsRx branch, VerticalNews China was the subject of a denial of service cyber attack as a result of controversial news that had been reported in the publications. The cyber attack was halted when the company’s IP service identified the source and blocked it.
Henderson was press spokesman for Kalani Rosell and his family during a Hawaii school admissions policy controversy, in which Hawaii’s Kamehameha Schools, founded to provide education with preference to students of native Hawaiian ancestry, admitted a non-Hawaiian student (Kalani Rosell) in 2002 for the first time in 40 years.
- Goss, Fred. "Charles Henderson Quietly Built one of the Largest and Most Successful Operations in Newsletter History, Title by Title, Week by Week." Newsletter on Newsletters May 23, 2005
- Goss, Fred "Charles Henderson - 'The Rupert Murdoch of Health'." Newsletter on Newsletters May 23, 2005
- Laermer, Richard. "A Source of News on AIDS." Editor and Publisher September 5, 1987
- "Index". www.siia.net. Retrieved 2016-04-21.
- McCullaugh, Jim. "Atlanta Firm Claims First Ever Nationwide Cable Music Show." Billboard. 3 March 1980 p. 1, p. 38
- Zimmerman, David, Lou Ziegler, and Patrick O'Driscoll. "6 Who Made a Difference." USA Today December 11, 1985 p. 1
- McCullough, Jim (3 March 1980). "Atlanta firm claims first ever nationwide cable music show.". Billboard Magazine.
- Vinovskis, Maris A., 2005. The Birth of Head Start, University of Chicago Press, pp.36-37.
- Powers, Judy. "Atlantan of the Week: Charlie Henderson: the PR Man as Reporter," Atlanta Gazette, 1978, Nov. 26, Vol. 5, issue 13, p. 5
- “Creating a Career” Universe volume 6 no. 2, March/April 2006
- Rovzar, Chris. "Yale Publishing Course Will Be International, Business-Oriented" New York Magazine. 20 April 2010
- Taylor, Ron. "Private Enterprise Jumps into AIDS Marketplace." Atlanta Constitution. February 4, 1986
- Gordon, Mike, “Story of Kamehameha Student Might Be Filmed”, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, July 20, 2010
- "Award for Movie Promotion." Atlanta Journal. 1979, July 11.
- Hesse, Stephen. "Movie Campaign Wins Top Award." Atlanta Journal and Constitution. 1979, July 4.
- "Video Concert Hall Returns to TV Screens Nationwide." On Location. January 1984
- King, Bill, "Atlantans Pioneering Cable Video Music Show," The Atlanta Constitution, June 3, 1980, p. 1-B, p. 10-B
- Werts, Dianne, "Din of Modern Hit Parade Invades Cable Homes," The Dallas Morning News, May 23, 1980
- Denisoff, Serge R. Tarnished Gold: The record industry revisited. Oxford, UK: Transaction books, 1986. p. 369
- The Pre-Awards Show: Sunday February 26, 1984 Metromedia, WNEW-TV New York, New York 1984.
- Levy, Alan M., "Showtime-Video Concert Hall Agreement Close," Multichannel News, Fairchild Business Publications, Oct. 27, 1980
- Fernandes, Manuela. "Health Letters: Let the Reader Beware." The New York Times News Service 18 Aug, 1995
- Ricklefs, Roger. "Medical Newsletters on AIDS Therapies Crop Up Across U.S." The Wall Street Journal. October 4, 1988
- Moore, Lisa. "AIDS Bulletin" US News and World Report. June 6, 1988: 83
- "NewsRx's VerticalNews Division Launches 86 Titles in Tech, Science and General Interest." Newsletter on Newsletters September 10, 2008
- Oliver, Suzanne. "Peddle or Perish." Forbes. October 23, 1995: 222-232
- Bellury, Phillip. Enlightening The World. Atlanta, GA: The Storyline Group, 2009.
- Hasty, Susan. "Take Control of the News" ScholarlyNews and ScholarlyEditions. ScholarlyMedia, 2011 ]
- ScholarlyEditions." ScholarlyEditions. ScholarlyMedia, 2011
- Video Concert Hall/Vincent Price Halloween Special Henderson-Crowe Syndications, Inc. Atlanta Sept 24, 1984
- Vincent Price’s Halloween Thriller, Fact Sheet, Henderson-Crowe Syndications, Inc., Atlanta, September 24, 1984
- Vincent Price Hosts His First American Halloween Special, News Release, September 24, 1984, Henderson-Crowe Syndications, Inc., Atlanta
- "NewsRx; China News from U.S. Hit by Denial of Service Cyber Attack Originating from China" Wall Street Journal Professional Edition with Factiva. January 25, 2010
- Fernandes, Manuela. "Reading All About It: Newsletters growing in number, but not all information is reliable." Atlanta Journal. August 16, 1995
- Nicholson, Joe. "Of Mice & Men: Is there too much hype in media's medical stories?." Editor and Publisher. October 3, 1998
- Schneider, Keith. "Tampering Uncovered at AIDS Research Lab" The New York Times p.1 September 17, 1986
- Higgins, Kelly. "More Victims of Chinese Hacking Attacks Come Forward" Dark Reading. January 14, 2010
- Liptak, Adam, “School Set Aside for Hawaiians Ends Exclusion to Cries of Protest", The New York Times, July 24, 2002, p.1