Voice Recognition

Grant County Schools News Article

2024 Grant County Education Foundation Distinguished Alumni

Mr. David Barnes
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt 

Our 2024 Distinguished Alumni recipient, David Barnes has lived by this philosophy.  A 1966 graduate of Grant County High School, Mr. Barnes has built a career as an electrical engineer.  From an early age, David understood the value of hard work, “I spent my last two high school summers surveying tobacco allotments for the government and cutting tobacco on the big Georgetown farms in the fall for spending money.” Mr. Barnes reminisced. He recalls “College wasn’t discussed at home, it was understood that I would get a job after graduation.”
A Grant County Teacher, Mrs. Jean Reed had a huge impact on Mr. Barnes, “She stimulated my natural but latent math aptitude and made Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry exciting and challenging.” He shared. It is to Mrs. Reed that Mr. Barnes credits his successful career. While enrolled during his senior year, several local businesses would visit GCHS to talk to prospective students. One company, AT&T was piqued by young David. “Apparently, AT&T was impressed with my math and logic skills. A week after taking their aptitude and skills test, they called with the news that I had an incredibly high aptitude for electronics technology and offered me a job on the spot.” Mr. Barnes was only seventeen years old at the time, his father was required to sign a waiver allowing him to be a full-time employee.

The on-the-job training Mr. Barnes received with AT&T intrigued him. He quickly obtained a Top-Secret Security Clearance to work on government and military communications. It was during his work at the Williamstown facility maintaining the equipment that handled network television feeds from New York to the West Coast that enamored him. “I became fascinated with video and audio technology and soon decided that television broadcast engineering would be my career.” Described Mr. Barnes. 

Over the next four years, Mr. Barnes worked to teach himself electronic engineering. Steadily taking jobs to self-educate within his field. In 1967 Mr. Barnes accepted his first Broadcast Engineering position at WLWI-TV in Indianapolis.  “By 1970 I felt my level of electrical engineering knowledge was equivalent to what it would have been had I taken the academic path directly out of high school. Instead of being a fresh college graduate, I was an Engineering Manager with KET, building and maintaining television stations all over the commonwealth.” Mr. Barnes explained. With his career kickstarted Mr. Barnes spent the next eight years in broadcast engineering. In 1976, he became the youngest Chief Engineer of a TV Station in America at WVPT-TV in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
In 1976, ten years after graduating from Grant County High School Mr. Barnes felt he had achieved all of his goals within broadcast engineering, “Then my entrepreneurial inclinations took over, and I moved to the broadcast industry’s supply side.” Shared Mr. Barnes.  He joined Midwest Communications, a high-end video systems company specializing in industrial, educational, and government entities. After three years he became Vice President and General Manager. “I was responsible for all facets of the operation,” Mr. Barnes explained, “After expanding the business substantially over the next five years, I led a buyout of Midwest Communications from its parent company in 1986 and became its President, CEO, and substantial stakeholder.” He recalls. 
Under Mr. Barnes' leadership, Midwest became the largest video systems company in the world. With high-profile projects such as the new Disney-MGM Studios which opened in 1988, as well as most professional sports viewed on US TV Networks.  Midwest pioneered SNG (Satellite News Gathering) Systems, which allowed events happening anywhere in the world to be broadcast globally in real-time.  CNN used Midwest SNG systems to provide live coverage of the Reagan-Gorbachev Summit in Iceland in 1986 and even the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991. “All historical events and milestones for live television coverage that transformed the industry. We were preeminent in our field.” He mused. 

The path for Mr. Barnes has not always been successful. “I have been at the pinnacle twice in my adult life and at the absolute bottom twice, fortunately, I got the order correct and ended up on top.” Mr. Barnes confessed.  Through health issues and career misfortune, Mr. Barnes never accepted defeat. “I didn’t waste time asking, “Why me?” I have always had a strong faith in God and left it in His hands.” Mr. Barnes assured.  Through two Kidney Transplants, he has always held a positive mental approach. “Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.’ I’ve always tried to live up to that admonition” Mr. Barnes explained. 

In 1991 he faced a tremendous feat, to start again, from scratch. “After an acrimonious breakup with Midwest Communication’s majority shareholder, I was forced to leave the company I had built. I went from being one of the most powerful men in the video industry to being unemployed.” Mr. Barnes shared. It was at this moment TV One was founded with no investors or shareholders. Rather than build video systems from products manufactured by other companies, TV One became one of those companies. Over the ensuing years, TV One developed and patented a unique video conversion technology that became the heart of their products. “We named our technology CORIO, a play on the word choreography because it choreographed video.” Mr. Barnes stated. 

This technology advanced arthroscopic surgery to guide minimally invasive procedures. It is used at major sports stadiums to deliver video to multiple massive video displays. The product is at the forefront of large venue events where large groups view real-time events simultaneously.  “Even though it has been over a dozen years since I sold TV One, the core technologies and products put in place on my watch are still the backbone of the company. In an era when technology products have short lives, I am very proud of the longevity of the ones we developed.” Mr. Barnes shared.

Throughout this incredible career, Mr. Barnes never forgot his roots in Grant County. As a first-generation high school graduate, David remembers his mom and dad being supportive in every way. “Mom told me many times that I could achieve whatever I wanted in life if I worked hard enough.” He stated. Within the halls of Grant County High School, Mr. Barnes was spirited. As a member of the FFA and French Club, Vice President of his class, baseball team member, and Senior Play cast member, Mr. Barnes never missed a social function. To this day he holds a class of 1966 reunion at his home for his classmates. He married GCHS 1964 graduate, Darlene Rich in February of 1967. Their 57 years of marriage have seen so much. “We are entirely compatible and our strengths and weaknesses offset,” He smiles, “Darlene thoroughly understood what it took to succeed.”.  They have two children Dina and David II, two grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Apart from his family and business, Mr. Barnes has been involved in philanthropic work, supporting over twenty charities in the last fifty years. He is a past Trustee of the Northern Kentucky Children’s Home, and a past Board Member of the Northern Kentucky University Foundation. Mr. Barnes is currently an active member of the Grand Canyon Historical Society and the Theodore Roosevelt Association.  He has received honors such as Vision’s US Video Industry Man of the Year in 1989 and the Kentucky Exporter of the Year Award in 1986 for supplying advanced video systems to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. He is an active member of several professional organizations including the Society of Broadcast Engineers, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and the Royal Television Society (England). 

Perhaps one of his most proud accomplishments was being recognized in 2018 by the Grant County Historical Society for his book, The Cordova Kid, which depicts life growing up in Grant County in the 1950s and 60s. It is apparent our Distinguished Alumni is accomplished. As a self-educated professional, his life proves that there are many pathways to success. We are so thankful for his contributions to society as a whole.

Timeline of Mr. Barnes Career:
1962-1966         Grant County High School
1966-1967         AT&T Williamstown – Electronics Technician
1968-1976         Broadcast Engineering Career
1968                   WLWI-TV Indianapolis – Staff Engineer (Jan-Apr)
1968                   WXIX-TV Cincinnati – Staff Engineer for TV Station Construction (Apr-Dec)
1969-1970         KET Lexington – Regional Engineering Manager – TV Station Construction          
1970                   Started David Barnes Engineering - TV Station Consulting (2nd job thru 1976)
1970-1971         Founded and operated RF Associates - TV Station Construction – Owner & President
1971-1976         WVPT-TV Harrisonburg, VA - Chief Engineer
1976-1991         Midwest Communications Corporation – Global Video Systems Provider
1977-1979         Regional Manager 
1980-1984         Vice President & General Manager
1985-1991         Headed purchase of Midwest - President, CEO - Became Publicly Traded in 1987
1991-2013         TV One Corporation – Video Equipment Design & Manufacturing
1991-2013         FounderOwner, President & CEO
2002-2013         Founded and operated TV One Asia in Taiwan as a subsidiary
2004-2013         Acquired Vine Micros in England and operated it as a subsidiary
2005-2013         Founded and operated TV One China as a subsidiary
2013-                  Retired two years after selling TV One to Nortek Corp, a large public company, in 2011

Print This Article
© 2024. Grant County Schools. All Rights Reserved.