- A Modern-Day Alexander:Minos X. Kyriakou and the Spread of Hellenism
The sudden and unexpected passing of Minos X. Kyriakou on 2 July 2017 is a terrible loss to Greece, the wider Hellenic community around the world, and this journal. Born in Athens, Greece, in 1942 to a family that was involved in shipping dating back to the middle of the nineteenth century, Kyriakou greatly expanded the original family business and took it to impressive new heights. This included his launch of Athenian Tankers Holdings, a successful global shipping business with a significant fleet of tankers, in the aftermath of the global oil shocks of the 1970s. In the late 1980s, Kyriakou had the foresight to diversify his business and entered the media world by founding one of the first private radio stations in Greece, followed by Antenna TV (ANT1), a leading private television channel in Greece.
With its first broadcast on 31 December 1989, ANT1 quickly became one of the top-rated and most popular staples of news, media, and entertainment in Greece. But perhaps more important, Kyriakou's vision for a media conglomerate included the development of the larger Antenna Group of companies to reach the Greek-speaking communities in the rest of Europe, North America, and as far away as Australia. Today, Antenna's international networks are broadcast around the world via satellite by Antenna Europe, Antenna Satellite (for the North American market), and Antenna Pacific (for Australia) and are invaluable sources of news and information for the Greek and Cypriot immigrant communities. The Antenna Group also operates television [End Page 1] and radio stations as well as digital media in other countries of southeast Europe such as Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and Slovenia, among others.
In addition, the Antenna Group has made a series of investments in some of the world's most exciting technology and media companies and is an investor in the New York–based merchant bank Raine Group. Through its strategic partnership with the Raine Group, Antenna has invested in fast-growing companies in the United States and around the world, including most recently Imagine Entertainment.
Before ANT1 began satellite broadcasting around the world, children who grew up in expatriate Greek households and were forced to endure countless hours of Greek school at their local churches had precious few opportunities to hear and speak the language of their ancestors on a regular basis. Indeed, the majority of children of immigrants understood Greece's challenging past only through the stories, music, and old black-and-white photographs the older generation brought with them. For many Greek immigrants and their progeny, Greece in a way became frozen in time, because their perceptions were based on the difficult memories of the Greece that had been left behind, not the Greece that had been evolving into a modern and cosmopolitan European state.
Kyriakou and ANT1, however, changed all of this and expanded the reach of modern Hellenism, as Alexander the Great had spread classical Hellenism more than two millennia ago. With ANT1, immigrant Greek communities around the world were suddenly connected to their homeland. Greek language, culture, politics, religion, entertainment, and even sports all experienced something of a renaissance as modern Greece became available in real time to a hungry international audience. The older generation of Greek expatriates was able to stay abreast of important issues affecting their families back home and renew the bonds to their homeland, while the younger generation was able to access and learn about a country that now no longer seemed so distant in both time and space. With the power of ANT1, Greeks around the world had a more direct, immediate, and up-to-date connection to their own heritage. It is difficult to underestimate how Kyriakou and ANT1 shaped the history of Greece and modern Hellenism. Without a doubt, [End Page 2] however, his vision brought more Greeks back to explore their parents' and grandparents' homeland and helped develop Greece into a modern society that, while still living among the ancient ruins, could start looking toward a bright and hopeful future.
To be sure, other aspects of this modern-day Alexander's life demonstrate that Greece...