Glenn Valenta, HDNet/AXS TV Chief Engineer and HD Pioneer, Passes Away at 53

Glenn Valenta, a pioneer of high definition broadcast technology who was instrumental in building the first 24/7 HD television network, died on July 28 at the age of 53. He was Chief Engineer of HDNet/AXS TV since its inception 14 years ago. He passed away at home in the company of his loving wife after an eight year battle with cancer.

At HDNet, the network founded by Mark Cuban and Philip Garvin, Valenta provided the engineering acumen for numerous “firsts in high definition.” Among them were the first Olympics in HD (2002), the Triple Crown, NASA shuttle launches; video uplinks from Iraq, a regularly-scheduled news program, as well as the first series of HD MLB and NHL telecasts.

Born in 1960 in Wausau, WI, Valenta worked in radio and television his entire life, with experiences ranging from radio stations to television stations to national networks – from climbing transmission towers to building the origination center of a network.

He started at WSAU-TV out of high school and at just twenty years of age he was named chief engineer at KVOX AM/FM in Moorhead, MN.  It was there that he met his wife Carol (she was the station’s controller/accountant) and combined his great love for her with his passion for technology (they remained married until his death).

Valenta then moved into television at KODE-TV in Joplin, MO, followed by jobs at KUSA-TV and Ceavco in Denver, CO. After a brief time with his own consulting business, in 1991, he took the engineering job at Colorado Studios which transitioned to HDNet & AXS TV.

Thanks to Valenta’s work, HDNet was known for its outstanding image quality. He also helped to launch HDNet Movies, which would be known for its uncompromising commitment to airing movies only in their original theatrical broadcast ratio. Many of Valenta’s accomplishments were not easily recognized as the engineering challenges of the first HD network involved working behind the scenes with distributors, manufacturers, and with engineers at CableLabs.

Philip Garvin, HDNet, president, said, “We have lost one of the most brilliant technical minds in television. There was no challenge Glenn was unwilling to take on and he basically engineered HDNet from part and pieces of nascent hi-def technology into a functioning network.”

Valenta is survived by his loving wife Carol, his step-son Jesse (Kirsten), his parents, John and Sandra, his brother Mike (Kim) sister Kerry (John), mother-in-law Violet, sister-in-law Jeanne and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his brother Randall and his father-in-law Charles.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 23 at Colorado Studios in Denver, CO.

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