BW Online | May 24, 2004 | Craig McCaw's Secret Plan "Ever since he was a boy growing up near Seattle, Craig O. McCaw saw the moneymaking potential of the public airwaves. His father, J. Elroy McCaw, built one of the first rock 'n' roll radio stations in the country, New York's WINS-AM, and netted about $20 million when he sold it in 1962. An inveterate practical joker, Elroy sent his then-12-year-old son into a New York bank to deposit the multimillion-dollar check from the deal. Years later, Craig scooped up licenses for radio spectrum and cobbled together the first nationwide cellular empire, which he sold to AT&T (T ) for a neat $11.5 billion in 1994.
Now, McCaw is trying to get back on the air. After losing billions on several ventures in recent years, the reclusive entrepreneur is quietly making wireless investments that could be the start of a new empire that once again upsets the balance of power in the telecom industry. In March he acquired Clearwire Holdings Inc., a Texas company that provides wireless broadband service in Jacksonville, Fla., and holds the exclusive rights to radio spectrum in about 100 other U.S. cities. In April he snapped up NextNet Wireless Inc., a Minneapolis startup that makes gear for delivering high-speed Internet access through the air. And on May 3, he invested $36 million in Microcell Telecommunications Inc., a Montreal-based cellular provider that plans to introduce wireless broadband throughout Canada."