Television Innovator Charles L. Dages II ’70 Sees the Big Picture
Whether navigating a challenging corporate initiative or tackling a serious humanitarian issue, you can count on Charles L. Dages II ’70 to unpack the question until he arrives at a solution. Dages’ leadership is responsible for innovative, iconic entertainment programming — as well as significant humanitarian accomplishments.
Dages was never a typical media executive.
True, he spent 20 years at Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. before retiring as executive vice president of Emerging Technology in 2014. Before that, he had worked at CBS for 13 years. He rose to the roles of chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and chairman of the Board of the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California.
His career, however, reflects the innovative thinking one would expect of a Stevens graduate. He conceptualized, designed and implemented a state-of-the-art production and studio facility for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” for instance. He brought the website TMZ.com to television. And he famously developed the Ed Sullivan Theater for “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
It all seems a far cry from Dages’ teen years in Glen Rock, New Jersey, where he spent Saturdays visiting the science and engineering departments at local colleges.
“At the time, there was a big push to promote technological leadership,” he recalls. “So my high school organized these Saturday college tours.”
Stevens was actually not part of the tour program, but there were a few Stevens students in his neighborhood and they encouraged him to apply. He secured a partial scholarship from PSEG and soon obtained an electrical engineering degree.
By the time he graduated, GE had recruited Dages for its two-year Edison Engineering Development Program. He rotated through a variety of hands-on case studies, including one working on heavy military projects in upstate New York.
Dages saw plenty of students leave the program in frustration, but he pressed on.
“My Stevens education gave me a framework for meeting challenges,” he says. “I could look at a problem and see the bigger picture.”
Dages has also applied his problem-solving skill to humanitarian purposes with equal success. He directed Warner Bros.’ involvement with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a partnership between the studio and the U.S. State Department, which earned him the Global Business Coalition Award. He contributed time and expertise to a number of companies and organizations, including startup ContentGuard, the nonprofit Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation, and Digivation Camps for Innovation. And he recently accepted an invitation to serve as a technical advisor to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
As if that weren’t enough, Dages, who later obtained a master’s from Pennsylvania State University, also holds three patents and has won three Emmy Awards for Outstanding Technical Achievement.
“Stevens gives you the tools to be successful, but it’s up to you to do the work,” Dages says.