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Discovery Channel pioneer killed in crash

Thursday - 11/15/2012, 5:42am  ET

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Du Monceau was one of the original programmers of the Discovery Channel and played a key role three decades ago in determining the early content of the science and adventure cable channel. (Courtesy of The Diamondback student newspaper)
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Editor's Note: In the first version of this story, WTOP.com incorrectly reported the founder of the Discovery Channel had passed. The inaccuracy was quickly corrected.

Dick Uliano, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - One of the pioneers of cable TV's Discovery Channel was killed Tuesday morning when a flatbed truck plowed into his Jeep Cherokee.

Michael du Monceau, 68, was killed in the crash that closed Route 32 for several hours Tuesday morning. Police say the truck slid into oncoming traffic, striking du Monceau's vehicle.

Du Monceau, of Ellicott City, was one of the original programmers of the Discovery Channel and played a key role three decades ago in determining the early content of the science and adventure cable channel.

"It is safe to say that his contributions and the mark he left here helped make Discovery Communications the company it is today," says John Hendricks, Discovery Communications founder and chairman.

Hendricks says du Monceau used talents honed as a former University of Maryland professor to pick early Discovery favorites including "Disappearing World," "Young Einstein," and "A Duck's Tale."

Du Monceau and Dr. Robert McCleary - former chairman of the Department of Radio, Television and Film at the University of Maryland - are credited with developing programming themes, or "anthologies," that lured viewers and extended the length of time they watched Discovery, which contributed to the channel's early success.

Hendricks says du Monceau was a "beloved friend of Discovery Communications."

Former University of Maryland students reacted to the death of du Monceau:

Jay Kernis, producer, NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams: "He pushed us. He wanted to make sure that we were being the most creative we could be."

Max Cacas, radio and online journalist: "He was most popular for his television production classes."

Steve Allen, social media consultant: "He taught us a lot of the basics but it was really about getting into who you were and learning about yourself more than it was learning about the business."

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)