Founder, Chairman and Chief Encouragement Officer, Sams Companies
David Sams is one of the world’s most respected marketing strategists, a nine-time Emmy winning TV producer, author, speaker, and emerging technologies guru. He has been featured in the pages of TVGUIDE, USATODAY, and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. He has appeared on 60 MINUTES, ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT, NBC’S TODAY, DATELINE NBC, and WORLD NEWS TONIGHT. He is listed in WHO’S WHO IN ENTERTAINMENT, WHO’S WHO IN AMERICA, and WHO’S WHO IN THE WORLD. Sams is the archetypal entrepreneur–a preeminent idea man whose track record is synonymous with success.
With an initial budget of less than $100,000, and a few months shy of his 26th birthday, Sams was the marketing architect who turned WHEEL OF FORTUNE and JEOPARDY into the two highest-rated shows in syndication history, while head of global marketing and creative affairs for a small, family owned syndication company called King World. Soon thereafter the company went public and became the darling of Wall Street–recognized as one of the most profitable publicly traded companies in the United States. Years later, without a penny of debt on its books, King World sold for billions of dollars–and is now part of the CBS family.
In 1986, Sams helped to launch the OPRAH WINFREY SHOW into national syndication. His creative marketing efforts made Oprah a household name even before the talk show host hit the airwaves. She was #1 in nearly every TV market from her very first day on the air. Sams re-invented the way syndicated shows and personalities are marketed. He was one of the first to preach that people watch shows and personalities they love–not networks. To this day (over two decades after they first hit the air) WHEEL OF FORTUNE, JEOPARDY and OPRAH remain the top-rated shows in all of syndication. Collectively, these three programs, which cost very little to produce compared to most TV fare, are cash cows–generating billions-of-dollars in license fees, advertising revenues, and international format rights over their run. Ironically, the King brothers originally got the rights to distribute WHEEL OF FORTUNE, after it has been cancelled on NBC’s daytime network, for only $50,000. Who would have thought?
As a TV PRODUCER, WRITER AND DIRECTOR, Sams has won 9 Emmy Awards. He has produced news magazines, music programs and specials, reality shows, and documentaries for multiple networks and syndicators. He is a member of the Director’s Guild of America.
As an INTERNET ENTREPRENEUR, Sams has launched numerous successful online ventures. In 2000, he created an Internet company that generated well over ten million dollars of revenue in less than 3 months–with fewer employees than you can count on one hand and virtually no marketing costs. He was instrumental in launching the .cc domain with Clear Channel Communications, as well as the .tv domain with the dotTV Corporation.
There’s even a good chance you’ve taken out your credit card, in the middle of the night, and bought one of the many DRTV products that Sams has either produced or distributed on TV. He has been awarded INFOMERCIAL OF THE YEAR, ENTERTAINMENT INFOMERCIAL OF THE YEAR, and PROGRAM-LENGTH ADVERTISEMENT OF THE YEAR. In 2005, he won a TELLY AWARD as well as a US INTERNATIONAL FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL AWARD for his BEST OF HEE HAW infomercial for Time-Life. In just one year, more than 1 million HEE HAW DVDs were sold. Overall, Sams is responsible for hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars in DRTV sales. He has also won five commercial ADDYs.
The son of a Midwest preacher, and the father of two daughters, Sams’ faith in God has led him to be a major force in the growth of “family friendly” entertainment media. In 1995, he brought together eleven major music labels and some 65 recording artists to release a seven CD compilation titled KEEP THE FAITH. Marketed under his own label, TVFirst, at a retail price of $124.95, the collection was certified PLATINUM by the RIAA, with over 1,000,000 albums sold. Since then, Sams has produced and distributed dozens of other compilations and music/entertainment infomercials, including several for Time Life. In early 2011, Sams and his partners launched the Keep The Faith radio network, heard on over 300 Christian radio stations across America and in some 80 countries around the world. They also recently launched a social network community at KeepTheFaith.com.
Sams also created and executive produced ETC NEWSMAGAZINE, which made national headlines because of its ongoing coverage of underage teenagers getting into violent R-rated movies. Sams’ program covered the issue in-depth, including hidden camera footage of kids continuously gaining admission to movies without question from theater ticket sellers. The Clinton White House turned to Sams for his special coverage in an effort to challenge theater owners to change and police their ticket-selling policies to minors. Following a special screening of Sams’ ETC Newsmagazine, which also aired in prime time on network television, President Clinton announced pledges by thousands of members of the National Association Theater Owners that they would require photo identification from young people for R-rated movies. This policy is strictly enforced today.
Sams has created and produced multiple news magazine programs. In 1991, he created and executive produced DAY IN COURT, hosted by the Today Show’s Matt Lauer. The pilot was picked up by NBC as TRIAL WATCH, which ran for two seasons on the network. The daily program covered all of the hot legal battles of the rich and famous and led to the later development of networks such as COURT TV.
Sams is also very instrumental in raising awareness and money for numerous non-profit organizations. He has been honored by the U.S. Olympic Committee for his fund-raising efforts, made significant contributions to organizations such as MDA, was President of Christian Network Holdings, and is one of the founding members of Operation DVD, an appeal to patriotic Americans to donate their new and used DVDs which are then shipped to our fighting men and women overseas. Safe entertainment is a concept that is difficult at best for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even baseball and softball games are difficult because of snipers, mines, bombs and other terrorist activities.
Sams has strong retail alliances. Just one example is his relationship with Wal-Mart. In 2004 he created and produced a program called DVDWEEKEND that aired on the Tribune stations, including SuperStation WGN. The program enticed people to run to their phones and computers DVDWeekend (dot) com to rent and buy their favorite DVDs. Thousands of people did just that, and within weeks Sams’ wholly-owned DVDWEEKEND became #3 online affiliate for Wal-Mart in the entire world. Most recently, Sams created music compilations for Time Life and Sony, featuring superstar artists Christina Aguilera, American Idol’s Ruben Studdard, Gloria Estefan, Patti LaBelle, Wynonna, and Sarah McLachlan–just to name a few.
Sams has consulted a vast array of broadcasters, Internet companies, and record labels, including: CBS, Clear Channel, Westinghouse, Motown, Warner Music, Paxson Communications, dotTV Corporation, Time-Life, Integrity Publishers, Sony, Reunion.com, MyLife.com, EMI, Universal, Reinvent Media, and many others. He has worked on behalf of many entertainers–from Michael Jackson to Garth Brooks.
Sams got into the media business by selling freelance photos of local high school sporting events to a local, Columbus, Ohio newspaper when he was just 13 years old. A year later, the editor of the paper asked him to write an entertainment column for teenage moviegoers in an effort to get young people to read the newspaper. Sams jumped at the idea when he realized that he’d never have to pay for a movie or concert ticket again! The column was so popular that it was syndicated to other papers.
At age 15, Sams moved into radio, hosting a morning radio show for a small station in central Ohio. He then anchored a local community newscast on cable TV. By the time he graduated from high school, he moved into commercial TV, creating a magazine show for WTVN-TV (now ABC, WSYX) that put him on the list of PEOPLE TO WATCH by COLUMBUS MONTHLY magazine. He went on to create numerous shows throughout Ohio, and became executive producer and head of marketing for WBNS 10TV in Columbus–the powerhouse CBS affiliate–where he drove that station’s EYEWITNESS NEWS to a stunning 53 share at 6 p.m., making it the highest-rated local newscast in the entire nation.
Of course, there are those programs, projects, and businesses in Sams’ career that he’ll never quite live down. At about age 20, he created FRONT PAGE, which literally shocked viewers into watching. The program became so popular that it actually garnered as high as a 40 share in prime access in Columbus, Ohio. He also produced and was color commentator of a national TV show called ROLLERGAMES (high voltage roller derby)–where skaters had to maneuver around the “Wall of Death,” and keep from falling into the live Alligator Pit! After screening the program, one outraged newspaper reviewer wrote that Sams was personally responsible for the “decline of the western civilization.” Better that than global warming!
In 2003, Sams ran for Governor of California but lost to mega-movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger. While he may have lost the election, he has one incredible scrapbook for his two daughters.
Sams currently resides in Brentwood, Tennessee.
You won’t want to miss this! Imagine launching/marketing the most iconic personality brand in entertainment history, losing a fortune, losing it all, then finding the strength and courage to get back up and do it all over again — starting with a Domain — and blending old school with new media.