Month: November 2022

Kathy Saunders

2022 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

(Published August 2022)

This year’s Pioneer of the Year has done more to serve Texas in terms of local news – in my opinion – than any other broadcaster.

Kathy Saunders, VP/GM of KDFW and KDFI-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, has been with the Fox Television Stations since 1997 – making her the most tenured Television GM in our market.

With our industry’s focus on local journalism (as well as our politicians) I’m so very excited to be able to recognize an individual like Kathy.

She has always approached her work with one eye on the future of our industry and another on the community as she doubled down on local journalism.

Kathy has always stressed the importance of keeping her stations and staff connected with the community – no matter how they get their TV content.

She continues to push for a high-energy, digital approach to reaching viewers – whether it be breaking news, weather alerts or sports updates.

A champion for TAB, Kathy is a strong supporter of our industry, our association, local news, her company and her team.

On many occasions, she has jumped on a flight to DC, driven across town or joined virtual meetings when Oscar called to press our case on issues like retransmission consent, Open Government, or unfair competition from Big Tech.

Her leadership skills are reflected in the minimal staff turnover at her stations.

The fact that her news, weather and sports anchors have remained loyal to her speaks volumes to her servitude, people skills and integrity.

Her sales teams are always at the top of the game and the most aggressive in the market.

Customers and clients consistently comment on the professionalism of her teams.

I could go on for days – but suffice to say – “Kathy is the Real Deal!”

And she accomplished everything when very few women were given changes to run their own stations – much less in a Top 10 Television Market!

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Mark Grubbs

2021 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

(Published August 2021)

TAB’s Pioneer of the Year has always believed that broadcast success is a combination of consistently applied fundamentals and a commitment to community service.

Mark Grubbs has been the owner/operator of the Ranch Radio Group stations in the Texas Hill Country since 1993.

Grubbs got his start at KEYS Corpus Christi but spent most of his early career with Waterman Broadcasting at powerhouse KTSA San Antonio.

Fifteen years at KTSA! That was unheard of in the business at the time.

“Even his competitors couldn’t help but acknowledge his presence in the market. He set an example for all other sales executives – he was inside every door at every agency and client in town,” said former TAB President John Barger.

“He was personable, out-going, knowledgeable and professional – hard to beat!”

After a seven-year competitive FCC battle, Grubbs and his business partner were able to build and operate 94.7 FM in Austin. Didn’t go so well in Austin.

As he says, “I got my RTV degree from OSU, my master’s from Bernie Waterman and my doctorate from Austin – when I went broke.”

Leaving Austin, he filed for a license for an FM station in Kerrville – and 92.3 “The Ranch” became the cornerstone of the Ranch Radio Group.

Grubbs is always looking for opportunities to serve his community, either with new promotion, programming, and marketing strategies to better serve listeners and local businesses, or a solution to a pressing community need.

Whether it’s serving as the official Radio station for the Gillespie County Fair or raising money for 4-H and FFA scholarships, Grubbs’ passion for serving his community is woven seamlessly into everything he and the Ranch Staff do.

At the end of the day, he’s the “Consummate Radio Guy.” You can ask him about the weather and within a minute or so – the conversation has turned to Radio.

Texas broadcasters salute Grubbs’ undying passion for the Radio business and his continuing commitment to broadcast excellence and serving the industry and local community.

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Jackie Rutledge

2019 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

Throughout her long career in Texas Radio and Television, Jackie Rutledge stands out as a shining example of dedication to the broadcast industry and her local community alike.

Growing up in Houston, Rutledge’s began her career as an account executive at the Houston Chronicle.

Following her husband Evans’ career, she moved to Temple where she worked for KTEM/KPLE – radio stations owned by Pioneer Texas Broadcaster Clint Formby.

The Rutledges moved to Lubbock so Evans could go to law school, and she started working in sales for KLLL/KEND radio.

In February 1986, Rutledge took a position in Abilene at the ABC affiliate, KTXS-TV as an Account Executive.

After two years, she was promoted to Local Sales Manager, then General Sales Manager.  General Manager Clay Milstead trained her to take his place and in 1993 she was named Vice-President, General Manager.

Under her leadership, the stations achieved strong ratings, created excellent promotions and received many community accolades, as well as industry honors.

They also expanded coverage and sales in San Angelo and added CW and Telemundo stations.

Always a big believer in community service and giving back, Rutledge served on numerous boards during her time in Abilene. Her commitment to her local community was evident through every part of her stations.

During her tenure, the stations won a record 10 consecutive TAB Bonner McLane Public Service Awards.

During her 23 years at KTXS-TV, she worked under five different owners (Catclaw Broadcasters; Southwest Multi Media; Lamco Communications; Blue Stone Television, owned by Sandy Di Pasquale, and Bonten Media).

“I think I can call myself a ‘survivor’,” she said.

In 2008, Rutledge left Abilene to spend four years in the GM position at WOAI-TV San Antonio, the NBC affiliate.

She revitalized the management team, built a sales staff and focused the news department and the station in a total community coverage direction.  The station’s popularity, ratings and revenue grew under her leadership.

As did many station managers, she also guided her station through the digital transition and a full HD conversion.

When WOAI-TV was sold in 2012, she moved to KWES-TV Odessa-Midland to work for the Drewry Broadcast Group and old friend Larry Patton.

The stations included KWES (an NBC Affiliate), CW, Telemundo and La Ley Radio.

In just three years, Rutledge and her staff elevated each of those operations to new levels. 

Raycom purchased the stations in 2015 and she stayed on to work for another Pioneer Texas Broadcaster, Brad Streit, before retiring in 2016 when she and Evans returned to the Houston area.

Throughout her career, Rutledge mentored scores of young professionals and helped them navigate their careers, offering counsel and encouragement even when it meant highly prized talent moving on to larger markets.

A powerful legislative advocate for the industry before state and federal policymakers, she successfully stared down one of the largest electric utilities in the country whose wind farm threatened to block her station’s signal from a huge chunk of her market.

She was equally resolute in her leadership role with TAB, working hand in glove with lawmakers to advance the industry’s agenda in the early days of satellite TV, tax deductibility of advertising costs, the DTV transition, and onerous FCC regulations on EEO recordkeeping.

She was a key figure in planning several TAB conventions, expanding the organization’s menu of services, building what is now the Public Education Partnership program, chairing multiple TAB Board committees and serving for 10 years on the Board of Directors before being named TAB Chairman in 2007, only the fourth woman to hold that title in the organization’s 55 years of existence.

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Brad Streit

2017 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

(Published August 2018)

The accomplishments of TAB’s 2018 Pioneer of the Year can be seen in communities across Texas, as well as in TAB’s continuing efforts on behalf of Texas’ free, over-the-air Radio & Television Stations.

Brad Streit now serves as Raycom Media’s Senior Vice President for Television, but his career began on the news production team at KTRE-TV Lufkin-Nacogdoches.

While he enjoyed stints in Ohio and Mississippi, his primary focus has been in the Lone Star State where he built a company-wide culture of excellence in news and community service.

The “Brad Streit Culture” is reflected in the teams he has built, with hiring based first and foremost on character, and then on initiative, ingenuity and results.

As General Manager of KLTV-TV Tyler-Longview, he led the station to market dominance with his emphasis on local news.

The station rose to national prominence by consistently commanding market share through all local newscasts.

He was recognized by the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters as “Best in Texas” two consecutive years for his commentary segment called “A Better East Texas.”

His engineering and management team at KLTV-TV was lauded for bouncing back from a tower collapse just days before it was slated to air the Super Bowl…the broadcast came off without a hitch for viewers or advertisers!

In 2015, he shepherded the acquisition by Raycom of the Drewry Broadcasting TV stations in Wichita Falls, Odessa-Midland, Amarillo and Waco.

There he led a major investment in the stations’ infrastructure and news content, expanding digital offerings and local news programs in Spanish on the group’s six Telemundo affiliates.

He was recognized in 2015 by the Texas Association of Broadcast Educators for his commitment to developing the next generation of broadcasters.

The following year, Streit established Raycom Media’s scholarship program at Stephen F. Austin University which also involves a mentorship program pairing students with industry professionals.

In 1994-95, Streit’s leadership skills bore fruit for Texas broadcasters in two pivotal actions.

First, he endorsed and helped lead an effort by then-TAB President Ann Arnold to raise the tens of thousands of dollars needed to fight an attempt by then-Southwestern Bell to enter the video services business.

As drafted, the legislation would have put broadcasters at a distinct competitive disadvantage.

TAB succeeded and in so doing, established a state-level must-carry/retransmission consent regime for TV stations.

That statute helped TV stations eventually secure cash retransmission consent payments when Bell – now AT&T – finally entered the cable business with a commitment to compensate stations for their programming.

That success also built a reputation for Texas broadcasters as major players in the legislative arena where they continue to advance measures important to our industry.

Second, searching for ways to provide member stations more services without increasing dues, Streit helped launch TAB’s NCSA/PEP program and conducted a one-on-one marketing campaign with individual stations to embrace the idea.

Since then, the NCSA/PEP program has funded the expansion of TAB’s direct member services, a professional staff serving hundreds of TV and Radio stations daily, and the construction of a multi-level building in downtown Austin.

“Brad’s gutsy decisions have always required principle, faith and leadership,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez.

“In his long career, he has clearly been the right person for the moment and TAB – and the Texas broadcast industry – are better for it.”

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Bob White

2017 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

Born in 1937, Bob White attended high school in Lockhart before attending the University of Texas for three years majoring in Radio-TV-Journalism. He also attended Port Arthur College to study radio engineering and secure his FCC Radio-Telephone First Class License.

He got his start in broadcasting in 1958 at WTAW-AM Bryan-College Station. From on-air, to news and engineering – White did it all.

Bob White

He left the station in 1960 to join legendary broadcaster Gordon McClendon at KILT Houston. 

After only one year, White was promoted to program director, in addition to his daily on-air shift.  Under his leadership, KILT became one of the most innovative and successful broadcast stations in the early days of Top 40 Radio.

After seven years in Houston, White moved to the Metroplex to change the old KCUL (a 50,000 watt daytime religious station) into what would become the first modern country radio station in Texas – KBUY-AM Fort Worth.

The station enjoyed great ratings and revenue success but White desired a new challenge and made the switch to Television.
He joined the staff of KIII-TV Corpus Christi in 1969, and was quickly promoted to local sales/operations manager and then general manager.

The station was owned by Michael McKinnon, 1971 Chairman of the TAB Board of Directors. Working together, they built KIII-TV into the number one news station in South Texas and one of the top ABC affiliates in the nation.

When Hurricane Celia hit Corpus Christi dead on in August 1970, KIII-TV led the way in news and service to the public.  The station had the only film of the actual hurricane devastation.  The City of Corpus Christi presented White with a Certificate of Commendation for Distinguished Service involving Hurricane Celia.

White helped put the “Domingo Peña Show” on the air and it is still airing every Sunday on KIII-TV. The show is one of the most popular TV programs in South Texas and greatly increased KIII-TV’s presence among the large Hispanic community in Corpus Christi.

The program, renamed “Domingo Live” following Domingo Peña’s death, is the longest running weekly Hispanic music/talk show in the nation.  Peña’s show featured performances by a variety of Tejano musicians and served as a high-profile forum in which Peña and his guests discussed issues of concern to the Hispanic community.

Along with the many musicians who appeared on his program, the show brought in representatives from community groups (such as LULAC and the American GI Forum), as well national leaders like President Lyndon Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

In 1977, White received the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission’s Abe Lincoln Award, presented annually to a broadcaster who has made significant contributions to the quality of life in America both as private citizens and professionals. White competed with 300 other television managers from throughout the United States.

McKinnon’s company purchased KBMT-TV Beaumont in 1978 and White was responsible for overseeing both stations.  
During that time, White spent more than five years on the TAB Board of Directors and his fellow broadcasters elected him to serve as TAB Chairman in 1980. 

He would stay with McKinnon Broadcasting until 1986 when he and others secured a construction permit to build a new, full-power UHF television station in the Bryan-College Station market. Unfortunately, the financing fell through and he returned to Corpus Christi – this time as the station manager for KRIS-TV, the market’s NBC affiliate.

Working with Pioneer Broadcaster T. Frank Smith, Jr., White managed the day-to-day operations of the station and handled national sales for two low-power stations Smith purchased – KAJA (Telemundo) and KDF (Fox). 

He stayed with the stations for 10 years, before moving back to KIII-TV where he served as the vice president/general manager. His major challenge was to rebuild and revitalize the sales, news and promotion departments.

He also led the efforts to move the entire station from their 11,000 square foot studio to an 88,000 square foot building down the road.  The move led to more station changes and White had to restructure almost every department at the station – from traffic and production to engineering and promotions.

White retired from the station in 2002 but continues to occasionally consult for local stations and help train local and national sales teams.

“I have known and worked with Bob for 25 years and have always found him dependable, efficient and unfailingly punctual. In fact, I have never worked with a person who gives as much attention to detail as he does,” said Anita Saenz-Carvalho, SVP-Entravision Corpus Christi.

“His skills do not end with office work. He also projects a warm, cheerful attitude to our clients. I have seen him resolve conflicts and handle other difficult situations with remarkable patience and admirable tact.

“In the community, Bob goes out of his way to help people in need by organizing charity drives. His grandson’s six-man football team had no place to play so Bob undertook the task of building a full size football field for Annapolis Christian Academy.  He loves people, works hard, and always tries to lift the spirits of those around him, especially the newcomers to our business.”

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Bill Buchanan

2016 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

When you look up “Small Town Radio” in the dictionary – there will be a photo of Bill Buchanan.

Buchanan has spent 51 years in broadcasting with nearly 40 of those serving the communities of Liberty and Dayton, in Liberty County in Southeast Texas.

Buchanan began his broadcasting career at various stations in Kentucky and Ohio before moving to Texas to become station manager of KGTN-AM Georgetown in 1969. He also worked at KBOP-AM Pleasanton and KCLT-AM Lockhart.

In 1977, he bought KPXE Liberty (with some financial help from his brother John) where he operated all phases of the station. He applied for an FM license in 1986 and when he finally got FCC approval in 1991 – KSHN-FM “Shine all Nine” joined the airwaves in Liberty.

At KPXE, an AM daytimer, Buchanan would record the Liberty Panthers and Dayton Bronco football games and broadcast them on Saturday, back to back. After signing on the air in 1991, KSHN-FM would carry one game live and the other followed, via recording.  The station rotated the games they aired live each week.

When Buchanan and, his wife Jana, first came to Liberty, they promised, “What we do for Dayton we will do for Liberty and vice versa.”

This commitment to the community led to one of Buchanan’s most ground-breaking ideas – split-channel sports.

In November 1991, Buchanan conceived, developed and aired the first football play-by-play using the split channel sports concept. Two games aired at once – one on the left channel and the other on the right channel of the FM stereo station. Since then, they have aired both games live in that manner each week. Several years ago, they added website broadcasts and have expanded that to five high school games on each week.

Many times, Buchanan has donated – out of his pocket – to the teams to be sure they have what they need to excel in sports and learn leadership and teamwork.

Buchanan has done a live interview program continuously since 1969, now totaling more than 12,000 programs.

In 2015, on his 74th birthday, Buchanan celebrated 50 years in broadcasting, and was surprised – live on air – when his daughter Dr. Kellie Buchanan lined up calls and visits from friends and colleagues as well as proclamations from city, county and state officials.

Buchanan has always wanted KSHN to sound “different” from big market stations – with a big focus on music, live announcers, community service and local news reporting. 

Years ago, when many small town radio stations were only reporting each morning what happened the night before, Buchanan devised a scheme to break into normal programming from his vehicle and give on the scene, immediate reports about major fires, wrecks and weather conditions. And that was done without a live announcer at the studio.

In both Hurricanes Rita and Ike, Buchanan and several staff members moved into the station to be on the air day and night, broadcasting lifesaving information about evacuations, as well as the locations of food, ice, water and other desperately needed supplies.

The Texas Association of Broadcast Educators honored Bill with the Broadcaster of the Year Award in 1995.

In 2011, Buchanan was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He has been a continuous TAB member since 1969 and has set the record for attending every TAB convention since then, except the one that was held in Acapulco.

He has served multiple terms on the TAB Board of Directors, led the Golden Mic Club, co-chaired TAB’s sportscaster seminars and enthusiastically supported the NCSA program. Few broadcasters are as connected to his lawmakers as Bill. He’s happy to provide the most valued service a lawmaker could want – an open microphone to discuss community concerns.

Giving back

Over the years, Buchanan has served in almost every civic organization in Liberty and Chambers County and donated blocks of advertising time to fundraising efforts for the historical society, children’s advocacy, volunteer fire departments, police support groups, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and numerous other local volunteer groups.

A longtime member of the Liberty Rotary Club, he also established a trust to permanently fund college scholarships for local students and led a project to construct the county’s first hospital heliport in 1985 and then again in Dayton in 2010.

Buchanan served multiple terms on the board of the Liberty Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce – raising funds and leading an effort to buy and remodel the chamber’s now permanent home in 1998.

“Those who know Bill, know that he has no hobbies. He doesn’t golf, fish, bowl or hunt, but instead is dedicated to radio broadcasting and serving his community,” said Mike Lout, general manager of KJAS Jasper.

“An owner, manager, news director, salesman, sportscaster and community leader…Bill does it all.”

View Bill Buchanan’s interview as part of Texas Tech’s TAB Pioneer Broadcaster project

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Becky Muñoz-Diaz *

2015 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

While the moniker “trailblazing pioneer” conjures images of hard-charging, rough-riding, take-no-prisoners strategy, Becky Muñoz-Diaz is a study in pioneering leadership achieved with finesse, quiet determination and joyful fearlessness.

In her more than 30 years of building English and Spanish language stations and serving two of the nation’s largest media markets, she was known and respected by her colleagues and competitors for growing ratings and revenues with an eye on the future for TV and Radio alike.

A native Texan, Muñoz-Diaz began her broadcast career in college at the University of Houston’s campus radio station. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio and Television Communications from UH in 1981 and went straight to work in sales at KCOH-AM and traffic at KIKK-AM-FM, all in Houston.

She led the efforts to establish three stations in the Houston area, including Grant Broadcasting’s KTXH-TV and El Dorado Radio’s KXTJ-FM/KQQK-FM – all now owned by Univision – as well as Telemundo’s KTMD-TV, now owned by Comcast-NBCU.

KXTJ-FM “Super Tejano 108” was the top-rated bilingual station in the summer of 1994 after only being on the air for nine months.
From 1995 to 2014, she served as General Manager and Vice President for Univision’s KUVN 23 and UniMas KSTR 49 – the number one and number two top-rated Spanish language stations in Dallas-Fort Worth, the fifth largest TV market in the country.

During her tenure with KUVN-TV, she expanded local news programming from 90 minutes to 22 hours a week, including the addition of the region’s first Spanish weekend newscast and early morning news program.

She and her team created marketing strategies for advertisers to reach and connect with the DFW Latino community by creating segments such as “23 a Su Lado” (23 at Your Side), “Desde la Communidad” (From the Community) and “Linea Abierta” (Open Line), as well as Univision events like the annual Tamale Festival and Copa Univision Soccer Tournament.

Muñoz-Diaz led Univision to work in tandem with multiple non-profit organizations to help inform and empower the region’s fast growing Latino community with education, health and civic engagement platforms.

Under her leadership, KUVN-TV received the Lone Star Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement-Station Excellence” in 2009 and “Outstanding Achievement-News Excellence” in 2012.

She served on the TAB Board of Directors from 1999 to 2003, often traveling to Washington, DC advocating for industry positions on key issues before Congress and the FCC.

In addition, she served on boards for numerous community organizations including the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Head Start, Communities in School and the Dallas Women’s Foundation.

She has been a trailblazer, opening the doors for women in the broadcasting industry while remaining committed to bringing awareness to community concerns.

In 1996, Muñoz-Diaz launched a partnership with Dallas ISD to advance opportunities for the Spanish-speaking community by showcasing the schools and programs through live radio remotes, interviews and news reports on the KUVN community affairs program “Vive la Mañana.”

Her efforts earned plaudits in 2014 from Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles who said “Our parents are better informed because of her belief that education can transform lives.”

Throughout her career, Muñoz-Diaz has volunteered with various professional and community organizations earning recognition from local and regional community leaders.
The National Diversity Council named her one of the most powerful and influential women in Texas in 2013.

She is a longtime member of Alliance for Women in Media (formerly American Women in Radio and Television), and past Chair of the Senior Source of Dallas and current Honorary Director.

She served on the Advisory Committee of the Ad Council of America for North Texas, Executive Advisory Board of the University of North Texas’ School of Communications and is a LIFT Advisory Council member.

Never faltering in her professional and volunteer leadership – even in her successful fight to overcome cancer – Muñoz-Diaz has pursued her love of helping people by encouraging community organizations to speak out on the airwaves so they could help them become better citizens and parents and build a stronger community.

Though she retired from Univision Media in 2014, she currently serves on the Board of the Hispanic 100 organization where she was President in 2009. She also serves on the AT&T Performing Arts Center Executive Community Engagement Committee.

Becky Muñoz-Diaz is the very model of how to overcome adversity, advocate for the industry’s goals and advance all communities while succeeding in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

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Larry Safir

2014 Broadcaster of the Year

(Published August 2014)

Larry Edward Safir’s broadcast accomplishments span more than 44 years.

Safir started his career in broadcasting at the age of 15, selling airtime for his father Nathan at the nation’s first Spanish language radio station, KCOR-AM San Antonio.

Larry Safir

Eventually being promoted to GSM at the station, he served on the planning committee for the first Hispanic state fair, helping to create the prototype for viewer/listener, free concert and marketing events.

In addition, to KCOR, Safir served as GM of KZFM/KEYS Corpus Christi and KERV Kerrville.

In 1992, he and his partner SW Multi-Media Patriarch Billy Goldberg, were awarded a CP for KNVO 48 TV in McAllen.

Safir secured Univision affiliation and the station became the nation’s ninth largest Hispanic market.

KNVO-TV rapidly became the market’s highest rated station.

Four years later, he sold to Entravision Communications, where he remained as an equity partner and executive vice president for the next 16 years.

Safir has been a leader and pioneer in creating equal opportunities for Spanish language viewers and helped pave the way for Spanish speaking as well as bilingual Hispanics to receive quality USA broadcast entertainment and news and job opportunities.

An example of his commitment is seen in the acquisition of Univision properties in Laredo, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Midland-Odessa and Lubbock.

Working for Entravision, he is credited with acquiring and simultaneously managing Univision 48, UniMas (formerly Telefutura), Fox Rio 2, CW-21 and four radio stations KLVY-FM, KFRQ-FM, KKPS-FM and KNVO-FM.

Safir developed and implemented the South Texas DMA’s first Spanish language TV newscast.

He also is credited with developing and executing the broadcast of both a Fox newscast at 9 pm in English and using the same staff for Spanish news on Univision at 10 pm.

This has been critical in raising Hispanic awareness of pride, equality and confidence among young Latinos.

Managing seven properties in one building takes initiative and creativity.

He used talent and resources to drive ratings and revenue, in two different languages! Before the days of consolidation, he introduced effective strategies that produced 15 weekly newscasts with English and Spanish news talent working both sets.

To this date, there are not many other stations that are consistently successful with their multi-platform and bilingual news operation.

Safir’s accomplishments in this marketplace alone are significant because, even today, McAllen remains the number one revenue market and among the highest in ratings for the company.

His father, Nathan, served as TAB Chairman in 1975 and was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in 1989.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Safir has been very active in supporting and interfacing with key political leaders and high-ranking state and national office holders who are in positions to help support the issues TAB finds most important to Texas broadcasters.

His extensive contributions to the local community are based on the fact that he understood that media is responsible for serving the community.

Safir’s station’s consistently aired PSA’s and newsworthy community news; however, he was adamant that the stations do more!

He promoted aggressive voter registration drives to create awareness and education among the viewers and listeners.

He also supported numerous major college scholarship programs for students in need of financial assistance in the DMA.

He created a longstanding community feature called “A Su Lado,” a community outreach program that allows the Spanish speaking community to reach out to experts in immigration, education, employment, healthcare and many other community issues.

Safir helped launch the broadcast careers of many employees who began their careers under his leadership and moved on to obtain prestigious positions in both the English and Spanish top 10 Markets.

After 20 years, Safir retired from Entravision.

He has launched the nation’s first Hispanic Health Network and continues to demonstrate his passion for addressing the needs of his community by serving as a co-founder, builder and board manager for what has become the Nation’s largest majority owned physician hospital populated primarily by Hispanics – Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg.

He currently serves as the executive director for the Renaissance Cancer Foundation on a pro bono basis.

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Tom Perryman *

2013 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

Radio the way it’s supposed to be.

That always has been the guiding principle of Tom Perryman, the 2013 TAB Pioneer of the Year. 

His radio career spans 66 years — from the heyday of live radio through many decades of market and technological changes.

At 86, Perryman still maintains a busy schedule as DJ and promoter of classic country artists on KKUS-FM 104.1 The Ranch, a station of the East Texas Radio Group in the Tyler-Longview market. 

Perryman’s show and his on-air promotional skills have moved KKUS to the top of the ratings, while contributing to the entire group’s financial stability.

The radio bug bit Perryman at age 16 when back surgery confined him to bed for several months at Rural Shade, his farming home in southeastern Navarro County.

The teenager listened to great announcers on popular AM stations and dreamed of being on the air.

Perryman earned an FCC first-class radio operators license at Tyler Commercial College, then fulfilled his dream in 1947 by signing on at KEBE-AM in Jacksonville.

“I went from picking cotton to picking records,” he likes to say.

“Texas Tom,” as he was known, hosted “The KEEBIE Korral” request hour, playing hillbilly music and telling stories about country life, a formula that served him well throughout his career.

“The station owner, Bill Laurie, told me, ‘If you can’t whistle it, don’t play it,’” Tom recalls, “and that stuck with me.”  Perryman promoted his first traveling Louisiana Hayride show in 1948, a success that filled Jacksonville’s football stadium.

From 1949 to 1956, Perryman worked at KSIJ-AM in Gladewater, eventually becoming station manager by his mid-20s, during the formative years of country music. 

He hosted “The Hillbilly Hit Parade,” which featured appearances by promising young musicians—including Elvis Presley – who traveled Highway 80 between Shreveport and Dallas.

He helped launch Elvis’s career by booking him at shows throughout East Texas.

Perryman’s career jumped from a small market to the biggest country station in the nation when he became the first regular DJ of an all-night country music show on WSM in Nashville.

He hosted the “Opry Star Spotlight” from 1956 to 1958, featuring music and interviews with top Opry artists. 

He also coordinated the Opry Artists Service Bureau, arranging with managers and buyers for artists’ appearances.

Perryman and his wife, Billie, returned to East Texas in 1959 as co-owners with country singer Jim Reeves of KGRI-AM/FM in Henderson.

They turned it into one of the nation’s first town-and-country format radio stations.

The station promoted future greats such as Johnny Cash and the Browns.

Reeves died in 1964 in a plane crash, and in 1967 the Perrymans, along with Reeves’ widow Mary, bought WMTS-AM/FM in Murfreesboro, near Nashville, Tenn.

The station was a founding organizational member of the Country Music Association. The Perrymans and Mary Reeves sold the popular station in 1978, and Perryman became vice-president of Jim Reeves Enterprises. 

To keep the Reeves legacy alive, Perryman produced an award-winning radio documentary about Jim Reeves’s influence on country music, in addition to a video showcasing Gentleman Jim’s music.  He also promoted and produced records for Cajun-Country star Jimmy C. Newman and others.

By 2001, Perryman was back in East Texas, turning KKUS-FM into a consistently high-rated classic country station.

“The Ranch and my 9-to-11 morning show dominate the older demographic.  These folks grew up with the people I play, and they can’t get that format anywhere else.  The younger listeners are hearing this kind of music for the first time, and they’re loving it,” Perryman says.

“Many fans listen to my show on the Internet in just about every state and even overseas.  That’s because every record I play, I tell stories about artists I knew personally.  I was there when country formats began to spread, and I’m proud to have helped many musicians become stars.”

As a DJ, promoter and station owner in the East Texas and Nashville markets, Tom Perryman joined other radio pioneers in helping develop a growing national appetite for what became country music. These changes led the way in the development of today’s entertainment industry.

“But I’ve always remembered that you don’t own the airwaves.  You have the honor of broadcasting to serve the public,” Perryman says.

“From 1947 until now, all our stations have always helped civic, religious, and educational institutions, in particular veterans groups.  We have helped countless non-profit organizations with local fund-raising.  There’s no telling how many community groups I’ve spoken to.”

Perryman credits Billie, his wife and partner of 67 years, for much of his success. “She worked with me at stations we owned and still raised our kids.  She’s been involved with everything I do.”

Pioneer broadcaster and DJ legend Tom Perryman has been inducted into the National Country Music Disc Jockey Hall Of Fame and the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame, and has received the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame DJ Award and the East Texas Tourism Association Broadcaster of Year award, among many others.

“I’ve always tried to improve and promote the radio industry along with country artists,” Perryman concludes, “so I especially appreciate getting this honor from my peers at TAB.”

View Tom Perryman’s video interview as part of Texas Tech’s TAB Pioneer Broadcaster project

Broadcasters mourn loss of Perryman (January 2018)

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