John Hendricks

Last updated
John Hendricks
John Samuel Hendricks

(1952-03-29) March 29, 1952 (age 68)
Known forFounder of Discovery Communications and CuriosityStream
Awards International Emmy Founders Award (2000)

John Samuel Hendricks [1] (born March 29, 1952) [2] is an American businessman and is the founder and former chairman of Discovery, Inc., a broadcasting and film production company which owns the Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet networks, among other ventures. On March 20, 2014, after 32 years at the helm, he made public his decision to retire as chairman of Discovery Communications after the annual shareholders' meeting of May 16, 2014. He moved on to found CuriosityStream, an ad-free, on-demand nonfiction streaming service. [3]


Early life

Born in Matewan, West Virginia, Hendricks' father was a home builder and his mother a clerk for city government. In 1958, the Hendricks family moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where Hendricks grew up. His father died when he was 20, and his mother died when he was 30. He attended S.R. Butler High School where he met his first wife, Pattie Miller. Hendricks graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and he received his bachelor's degree in history in 1974. While a student at UAH he worked in the audio visual department where he had the idea to bring documentaries to the public.

He was hired as director of community and government relations for the University of Alabama in Huntsville the year he graduated, and became director of corporate and foundation relations for the University of Maryland in 1975. While at the University of Maryland, he co-founded a fund-raising consulting company, the American Association of University Consultants, with Edward M. Peabody, and published several newsletters aimed at academic disciplines such as chemistry. [2] [4]

Commercial ventures

John Hendricks founded the Cable Educational Network, Inc., in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1982 to provide documentary programming to cable broadcasters. On June 17, 1985, Hendricks launched the Discovery Channel with $5 million in start-up capital led by the American investment firm Allen & Company. Today, Discovery's main shareholders include John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, and Advance/Newhouse (publishers of Vanity Fair , New Yorker , and Vogue ). [5]

Hendricks helped found the Women's United Soccer Association in 1999. After operating for three seasons, WUSA ceased operations in 2003. [6] In 2004, Hendricks and a group of investors attempted a financial rescue of the league to revive professional women's soccer in the United States. In April 2007, the WUSA announced a revival of the league, to occur in 2008. [7] The new league, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS), ran March 2009 to January 2012.

In 2013, Harper Collins published his first business memoir, A Curious Discovery: An Entrepreneur's Story. His biography recounts the struggles and triumphs of turning his passion for documentary programs into the world's most widely distributed cable channel and parlaying its popularity into a leading global media company. [8]

In 2015, Hendricks founded CuriosityStream, an online video on demand service. [9] CuriosityStream provides documentaries and series about science, technology, history and nature.


John Hendricks married his current wife, Maureen Donohue, on January 10, 1981. John and Maureen have two children, Elizabeth Hendricks and Andrew Hendricks. Elizabeth attended the Holton-Arms School and Princeton University, and serves as President of Hendricks Factual Media. [10] [11] Andrew attended the Landon School, [12] and is President of Driven Experiences, a racing and automotive company invested in many forms of the marketing media. [13] Andrew is also a professional sports car driver in Grand-Am Road Racing. [2]

Charitable activity

In 1995, Hendricks was appointed to the Lowell Observatory Advisory Board. In 2004, Hendricks donated $1 million to the Observatory for the construction of the Lowell Discovery Telescope. [14] In 2007, Hendricks donated an additional $5 million to the Observatory to complete the telescope. The Planetary Research Center at the Observatory was renamed the Hendricks Center for Planetary Studies shortly thereafter in honor of the donation. [15]

Hendricks serves on the Board of Directors of a number of non-profit organizations including United States Olympic Committee, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Institute for Advanced Study, National Forest Foundation, and Discovery Learning Alliance.

Hendricks has organized two charitable foundations. The John and Maureen Hendricks Charitable Foundation was established in 2001. It receives donations from the Hendricks family (roughly $1.1 million in 2005-2006, according to the foundation's Form 900 tax statement) and disburses grants to charitable causes. In total gifting, the Hendricks have donated over $30 million to numerous non-profit organizations supporting a wide variety of causes, from basic social services to science research. [16] [17] The John S. Hendricks Family Foundation was established in 1997. The foundation is used for specialized charitable purposes by the Hendricks family, and had no income, assets or disbursements in calendar years 2003, 2004 or 2005 (according to the foundation's Form 900 tax statements). [18]


Related Research Articles

Percival Lowell

Percival Lawrence Lowell was an American businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer who fueled speculation that there were canals on Mars. He founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and formed the beginning of the effort that led to the discovery of Pluto 14 years after his death.

Womens United Soccer Association professional soccer league

The Women's United Soccer Association, often abbreviated to the WUSA, was the world's first women's soccer league in which all the players were paid as professionals. Founded in February 2000, the league began its first season in April 2001 with eight teams in the United States. The league suspended operations on September 15, 2003, shortly after the end of its third season, after making cumulative losses of around US$100 million.

Discovery Channel is an American multinational pay television network and flagship channel owned by Discovery, Inc., a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav. As of June 2012, Discovery Channel is the third most widely distributed subscription channel in the United States, behind TBS and The Weather Channel; it is available in 409 million households worldwide, through its U.S. flagship channel and its various owned or licensed television channels internationally.

Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, United States. Lowell Observatory was established in 1894, placing it among the oldest observatories in the United States, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. In 2011, the Observatory was named one of "The World's 100 Most Important Places" by TIME. It was at the Lowell Observatory that the dwarf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh.

Arecibo Observatory Radio observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico

The Arecibo Observatory, also known as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), is an observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico owned by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

Refracting telescope

A refracting telescope is a type of optical telescope that uses a lens as its objective to form an image. The refracting telescope design was originally used in spy glasses and astronomical telescopes but is also used for long focus camera lenses. Although large refracting telescopes were very popular in the second half of the 19th century, for most research purposes, the refracting telescope has been superseded by the reflecting telescope, which allows larger apertures. A refractor's magnification is calculated by dividing the focal length of the objective lens by that of the eyepiece.

Palomar Observatory Astronomical observatory in Southern California

Palomar Observatory is an astronomical observatory in San Diego County, California, United States, 145 kilometers (90 mi) southeast of Los Angeles, California, in the Palomar Mountain Range. It is owned and operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), located in Pasadena, California. Research time at the observatory is granted to Caltech and its research partners, which include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Cornell University.

Parkes Observatory Radio telescope observatory

The Parkes Observatory is a radio telescope observatory, located 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia. It was one of several radio antennae used to receive live television images of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Its scientific contributions over the decades led the ABC to describe it as "the most successful scientific instrument ever built in Australia" after 50 years of operation.

Discovery, Inc. American mass media company

Discovery, Inc., formerly Discovery Communications, is an American multinational mass media company based in New York City. Established in 1985, the company primarily operates a group of factual and lifestyle television brands, such as the namesake Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and TLC. In 2018, the company acquired Scripps Networks Interactive, adding networks such as Food Network, HGTV, and Travel Channel to its portfolio. Since the purchase, Discovery has described itself as serving members of "passionate" audiences.

Marc Buie

Marc William Buie is an American astronomer and prolific discoverer of minor planets who works at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado in the Space Science Department. Formerly he worked at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and was the Sentinel Space Telescope Mission Scientist for the B612 Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting Earth from asteroid impact events.

NGC 891 spiral galaxy

NGC 891 is an edge-on unbarred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It was discovered by William Herschel on October 6, 1784. The galaxy is a member of the NGC 1023 group of galaxies in the Local Supercluster. It has an H II nucleus.

Anderson Mesa Station

Anderson Mesa Station is an astronomical observatory established in 1959 as a dark-sky observing site for Lowell Observatory. It is located at Anderson Mesa in Coconino County, Arizona (USA), about 12 miles southeast of Lowell's main campus on Mars Hill in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Lowell Discovery Telescope

The Lowell Discovery Telescope (LDT), formerly the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT), is a 4.3 m (170 in) aperture telescope owned and operated by Lowell Observatory. The LDT was built at a dark sky site in the Coconino National Forest near Happy Jack, Arizona. Happy Jack is located at an elevation of 2,360 m (7,740 ft) and is approximately 65 km (40 mi) south-south-east of Flagstaff. The project was initially a partnership between Discovery Communications and Lowell Observatory. The research partnerships have been extended to include Boston University, The University of Maryland, The University of Toledo, and Northern Arizona University. The telescope cost $53 million. It significantly augments Lowell Observatory's observational capability and enables pioneering studies in a number of important research areas.

Maryland SoccerPlex

The Maryland SoccerPlex is a sports complex in Germantown, Maryland, although its mailing address is Boyds, Maryland. The facility, completed in 2000 and operated by the Maryland Soccer Foundation (MSF), has 21 natural grass fields, 3 artificial turf fields, and 8 indoor convertible basketball/volleyball courts.

Arecibo Telescope Former radio telescope in the municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico

The Arecibo Telescope was a 305 m (1,000 ft) spherical reflector radio telescope built into a natural sinkhole at the Arecibo Observatory located near Arecibo, Puerto Rico. A cable-mount steerable receiver and several radar transmitters for emitting signals were mounted 150 m (492 ft) above the dish. Completed in November 1963, the Arecibo Telescope was the world's largest single-aperture telescope for 53 years, until it was surpassed in July 2016 by the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in Guizhou, China.

David J. Eicher

David John Eicher is an American editor, writer, and popularizer of astronomy and space. He has been editor-in-chief of Astronomy magazine since 2002. He is author, coauthor, or editor of 23 books on science and American history and is known for having founded a magazine on astronomical observing, Deep Sky Monthly, when he was a 15-year-old high school student.

Roger Putnam

Roger Lowell Putnam was an American politician and businessman. A member of the prominent Lowell family of Boston, he served as Mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts, from 1937 until 1943, and as director of the Economic Stabilization Administration from 1951 until 1952. During his short tenure in federal office, the nation's steelworkers struck—leading United States President Harry S. Truman to seize the nation's steel mills.

<i>Curiosity</i> (TV series)

Curiosity is an American documentary television series that premiered on August 7, 2011, on the Discovery Channel. Each episode focuses on one question in science, technology, and society and, for the first season, features a different celebrity host. Stephen Hawking hosted the premiere episode titled "Did God Create the Universe?", which aired simultaneously on seven Discovery Communications networks: Discovery Channel, TLC, Discovery Fit and Health, Animal Planet, Science, Investigation Discovery, and Destination America. Season one consists of 16 episodes.

CuriosityStream is an American factual media and entertainment company that offers video programming including documentaries, TV shows, and short form video content to subscribers. It was launched in 2015 by the founder of the Discovery Channel, John S. Hendricks. As of 2020 it had more than 13 million subscribers worldwide across its direct and bundled subscription businesses.

The Women's United Soccer Association, often abbreviated to the WUSA, was the world's first women's soccer league in which all the players were paid as professionals. Founded in February 2000, the league began its first season in April 2001 with eight teams in the United States. The league suspended operations on September 15, 2003, shortly after the end of its third season, after making cumulative losses of around US$100 million.


  1. A Curious Discovery: An Entrepreneur's Story, by John Hendricks, Chapter 1
  2. 1 2 3 "John Hendricks: An Oral History," The Cable Center, September 2, 2003.
  3. "About CuriosityStream". CuriosityStream. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  4. Southwick, "Cable Television: The First 50 Years," Cable World, September 1998.
  5. Forrester, "Discovery Communications: Growing, growing, growing," TBS Journal, No. 11, Fall 2003; Eisenberg, "TV's Unlikely Empire," Time, February 23, 2003.
  6. Longman, "Women's Soccer League Folds on World Cup's Eve" The New York Times, September 16, 2003.
  7. "WUSA to Relaunch in 2008 With Eight Teams." Associated Press. April 18, 2007.
  9. "Discovery Channel founder launches video streaming service". Tech 2. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  10. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-12-31. Retrieved 2014-02-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. "About Driven Experiences". Driven Experiences. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  13. "Lowell Gets OK to Add $30 Million Telescope," Associated Press, October 18, 2004.
  14. "Hendricks Family Boosts Discovery Channel Telescope With Additional $5 Million Contribution," Press release, Lowell Observatory, March 19, 2007.
  15. Archived 2014-01-04 at the Wayback Machine
  16. John and Maureen Hendricks Charitable Foundation on, accessed July 18, 2007.
  17. John S. Hendricks Family Foundation on, accessed July 18, 2007.
  19. "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.