Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Sweetwater Cable TV sold

 

September 6, 2017



The longtime owners of Sweetwater Cable TV have decided to sell their business to a Utah-based company, ending 64 years of involvement in the cable business they built from the ground up.

All West Communications of Kamas, Utah, announced its acquisition of Sweetwater Cable Television Company in a press release Friday. According to Marty Carollo, the manager for Sweetwater Cable, the closing date has not been finalized but should happen sometime in September. FCC licenses have already been transferred to All West, which Marty said was significant prior to closing. Marty said his father, Al Carollo Jr., and uncle John Carollo will retire from the business once the sale is complete and said plans for his position have not been finalized. Current staff will remain in place during and after the transition. Carollo Jr. said he appreciates the support the residents of Rock Springs and Green River have given over the years.

“We felt this natural geographic expansion of our current network just made sense. We will retain our deep commitment of investing in Wyoming to promote economic growth and development while being able to benefit from the resultant synergies provided by the merged resources of both companies,” All West Communications President Matthew Weller said in the press release

“Nobody is going to see a significant change overnight,” Marty said. “It will take many months to fully integrate our system into theirs.”

One change customers may notice later this year is a cleaner signal on the channels from Salt Lake City.

Fiber will be used to transmit the broadcast signals, directly out of Salt Lake City, stopping the interferences seen after the digital transition. Marty said Sweetwater Cable has had a number of suitors over the years seeking purchase of the company, but All West was the company that appealed most to the Carollos because of their commitment to customer service and their expertise in fiber-based telecommunications. He said that the things they’ve wanted to do at Sweetwater Cable are areas All West is experienced in.

The cable guys

The Carollo family was instrumental in bringing cable television to southwestern Wyoming. Before poles were installed and cable strung, there was a community translator system in Rock Springs. Payment was voluntary, but service unreliable.

That led to an opportunity and Al Carollo Sr., and his son Al Jr., got to work. Much of the early infrastructure in Rock Springs and Green River was installed by hand Carollo Jr., said during a 2005 discussion about the history of television in Sweetwater County, archived by the Sweetwater County Historical Museum.

He remembered the hard work and long hours involved with building up the cable system infrastructure.

“Here we are out setting 30-foot poles by hand, digging all the holes by hand, everything was done by hand,” Carollo Jr., said. “So we got that all done and I remember setting all those poles and all those towers.”

Carollo Sr., would often drive the neighborhoods at night to look for glowing windows, to verify that the cable system was working.

While Rock Springs saw early development in cable television, Green River would be left behind for about a year due to issues installing the relay system from Rock Springs to Green River. Ultimately, Sweetwater Cable brought television signals to much of southwestern Wyoming, using microwave links to send TV signals into Sublette, Lincoln and Uinta Counties.

According to Carollo Sr.’s 2009 obituary, in addition to Sweetwater Cable’s creation, he would help found United Cable Television Corporation in the 1970s along with the Schneider brothers from Casper, Joe Giovanini and a few others. He later became the director of United Global Cable Corporation as well as the president of the Wyoming Cable Television Association. He was also a member of the National Cable Television Association Pioneer Club. 

In 1976, Sweetwater Cable became the second Wyoming television company to offer HBO and 56th in the country. Carollo Jr., said he had to build a 10-meter satellite dish costing $100,000 to bring the service to the area and needed a permit from the Green River City Council.

“I was hoping they didn’t know how big 10 meters was … it was a monster, 33 feet in diameter, so it was huge,” he said.

Following HBO, the company later offered WTBS and the Disney Channel to its subscribers. An animation cell from Disney still hangs at Rock Springs City Hall, commemorating the day Sweetwater Cable started offering the Disney Channel to its subscribers.

While his father and grandfather were deeply involved in the cable business throughout their lives, Marty initially sought another profession far away from Sweetwater County.

Along with his siblings, the cable business was always integral to their lives, and they all worked at the company throughout their high school years.

However, Marty’s studies led him to become a marine biologist where he worked at Sea World in San Diego and then as a senior aquarist at the Oregon Coast Aquarium before leaving Oregon and moving his family back to Sweetwater County in 1999. He has worked at Sweetwater TV alongside his father and uncle for the past 18 years.

Marty said the sale is somewhat bittersweet for him because of his family’s longtime involvement in the cable business and involvement in the community.

“Dad will always be the original cable guy to me,” Marty said.

Going through the company’s attic, Marty said he found old equipment originally used in the company’s early local broadcasts. Amongst the items were an old bingo machine used when Sweetwater Cable hosted a bingo program, as well as an old Channel 6 light-up board and a Santa suit used for giving away bikes during Christmas, a 50-year tradition for the company.

While Marty’s future role with All West has yet to be determined, he said he does have plans should his employment end.

One of those plans is to continue his involvement with the Tomahawk Building in Green River through GRoWYO.

However, regardless of what his future holds, Marty admits there will be one aspect of his life that will forever change.

“I’m going to miss working with my dad and uncle John every day. But, I know that what we’re doing now will help take our system to the next level and that the 60 year plus commitment to our community will not end,” he said.

 

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