Month: January 2023

Clint Formby *

1994 Broadcaster of the Year

(Published July 2010)

Clint Formby was born Dec. 6, 1923 in McAdoo, Texas to John and Willie Formby.

He attended schools in Plainview and McAdoo and graduated from McAdoo High School in 1942, where he played basketball, tennis and was quarterback on the six-man football team.

He began college at Texas Tech upon high school graduation, but then enlisted in the US Army.

Formby remained in Switzerland after the end of the war in April 1945 and attended the University of Switzerland in Basel.

He returned stateside and re-enrolled at Texas Technological College, where he was a member of the Socii fraternity.

He was elected president of the Texas Tech student body his senior year and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1949.

While at college, Formby worked during the summer of 1948 to help his uncle Marshall Formby construct KPAN-AM Hereford, working as a carpenter and painter.

His was the first voice on the new radio station when it went on the air August 4, 1948.

Marshall Formby, 12 years older than Clint, was a former county judge and former state senator who went on the serve on the Texas Highway Commission and ran for governor in 1962, with Formby as his campaign manager.

While in college, Formby met Margaret Clark, who was the first Miss Texas Tech.

They courted and were married September 16, 1950 in Van Horn (Margaret’s hometown).

The young couple moved to Colorado City, where they rented a garage apartment from Mr. and Ms. George Mahon, the future US Congressman.

Formby also helped put a radio station in Snyder on the air.

They moved to Hereford August 22, 1951, where he went to work at KPAN and Margaret taught high school English and speech.

Formby was the news reporter, advertising salesman, sometimes sports announcer and tornado chaser, soon becoming manager of the little station.

He eventually replaced Marshall Formby’s original partner and the two men charted a radio path across Texas, eventually being involved in radio stations in Floydada, Tulia, Levelland, Andrews, Seminole, Tyler, Huntsville, Temple and Marshall.

In the 1950s, he would ride the train from Hereford to Chicago to attend the yearly convention of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

Formby also began a daily radio commentary in October 1955 on KPAN called the “Day-by-Day Philosopher,” which broadcast at 7:45 AM, six days a week.

“My little program,” as he called it, continued for nearly 55 years until the day before his death,

The show featured 17,160 consecutive broadcasts.

Formby believed it is the longest-running radio broadcast by an individual in the United States.

KPAN twice received the Texas Association of Broadcasters’ (TAB) Outstanding Radio Station award.

During the period 1962-1972, KPAN received more TAB awards than any Texas radio or TV station.

It is one of two Texas radio stations retained by same family ownership for over 60 years.

Formby became involved in the growing community of Hereford.

He was a member of Jaycees and a past-president of the Kiwanis Club, where he also served as district lieutenant governor and was involved in chartering two new clubs in West Texas.

He served as president of Deaf Smith Chamber of Commerce and received the group’s Citizen of the Year award in 1964.

He received the West Texas Chamber of Commerce Good Neighbor Award.

Formby was a member of First Baptist Church, where he taught the boys’ high school Sunday School class for several years.

He later was a charter member of Fellowship of Believers Church.

He received the Texas Communicator of the Year from the Southern Baptist Convention.

Formby brought cable TV to Hereford. First it was only a few satellite channels, but eventually the full spectrum; and he served managing partner of Hereford Cablevision from 1975-2006.

He served his alma mater – Texas Tech University – in several capacities.

He was a member of the University’s Board of Regents for 12 years and served as chairman.

Formby was involved in the work and lobbying of the legislature to establish a medical school and school of law at Texas Tech.

He served for years as a board member and then president of Texas Tech Ex-Students Association, now Texas Tech Alumni.

He was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas Tech University.

He served as a board member and then chairman of the Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock.

He was a member of and then chairman of the Mass Communications Advisory Committee, and worked long and hard to have Mass Communications established as a separate school at Texas Tech.

He was honored by being inducted into the Mass Communications Hall of Fame, received the Lifetime Support Award in 2001 and has a classroom named in his honor at the school.

Formby was a leader in the broadcast industry at the state and national level.

He was one of dozens of small-market radio owners who made the Texas Association of Broadcasters viable in the 1960s, and went on to serve on the board of directors and as president of TAB.

Formby has been named both Broadcaster of the Year (1994) and Pioneer Broadcaster (1979) by that state organization.

He also served as the small-market radio representative on the board of the National Association of Broadcasters and was chairman of the NAB Radio Board.

He served six years as a member of the corporate board of the Associated Press and was president of Associated Press Broadcasters.

He served 16 years as a board member for Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI), one of three major music-licensing firms in the United States.

He also served for several years on the executive committee of BMI.

Formby served as president of the Broadcast Education Foundation and as a board member of the Texas Broadcast Education Foundation.

He was an original board member of Texas Telecommunications Infrastructure board.

He and his wife made many close friends on those various boards, and also had the opportunity to travel across the globe.

Trips included an AP trip to Castro’s Cuba and other trips to China, Japan, Canada, Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and virtually every major city in the United States.

He loved to report those travels to his hometown audience on his daily program, which he taped in advance of any trip out-of-town.

Formby was unique in several ways, a few of which can be quantified.

He was the only person to ever appear on the cover of Texas Highways magazine, which set off a minor furor that Formby very much enjoyed.

He was the only single person to have held the offices of Texas Tech student body president, Board of Regents chairman and president of the Ex-Students Association.

He was a dedicated Texas Tech sports fan and held season football tickets since the 1950s, first in section 106 then in section 4 at Jones Stadium.

He loved everything red and black.

Formby had insatiable curiosity and was a voracious reader, subscribing to four daily newspaper and numerous magazines and periodicals.

He watched TV well into the night, and many of his daily radio programs were based on something he had seen or read or heard that deserved further discussion.

Formby was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998 but underwent radiation therapy, recovered and gave a running account of the disease and treatment on his radio show.

His frank and open dialog resulted in two Texas Media Awards from the American Cancer Society in 1999.

Ultimately, multiple myeloma was detected in 2005.

Formby loved people and loved to hear their story and had a way of making anyone feel as if he were really, truly interested in their conversation – which he was.

His daily trips to the local banks and post office highlighted his days in Hereford, when he could tell his latest travel story and catch up on the latest local gossip.

He tirelessly promoted Hereford and West Texas to anyone and everyone he encountered in his travels.

Formby’s wife, Margaret, was mother to their children and his main cheerleader.

After the kids were grown, she founded the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Hereford and served as its executive director until it moved to Fort Worth.

Formby’s son, Chip, has worked at KPAN since 1978 and became general manager in 1994.

Since 2003, Formby, Chip and Chip’s sons have all worked at the Hereford station – the only Texas radio station with three generations of the same family involved in its operations.

Formby passed away July 31, 2010 at the age of 86.

View Formby’s interview for the “Pioneers of TAB” project.

Clint Formby

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Lowry Mays

Lowry Mays *

1993 Broadcaster of the Year

“Lowry Mays was a titan of the Texas business community and respected by admirers and adversaries alike for his business acumen and financial savvy,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez.

“He left his mark across many great institutions within the Lone Star State and pioneered a transformation of the Radio broadcasting industry whose ripples continue to be felt today.

“His civic and political contributions to Texas were innumerable and will long be felt and appreciated by all whose lives he touched.”

Lowry Mays, investment banker-turn-broadcaster, would never have been in radio or television except for a business deal gone sour.

Mays was left holding the bag in 1972 for a group of investors who failed to fulfill their commitment to buy KEEZ-FM in San Antonio.

Faced with the option of paying off the loan or taking over the station and working out the note, the Harvard educated investments expert decided to become a broadcaster.

Two decades later, Mays heads one of the fastest growing and most profitable broadcast groups in the country.

As president and chief executive officer of Clear Channel Communications, Inc., he oversees 31 radio stations and seven television stations in 18 markets.

Clear Channel also sells advertising time on three additional stations and owns and operates three state news radio networks and eight sports radio networks.

Under his leadership Clear Channel has delivered a remarkable return on investment at a time when many broadcast properties are hard pressed by heavy debt loans.

An aggressive acquisition program taking advantage of changes last year in radio station ownership rules has brought national attention and recognition. Mays has graced the cover and pages of industry magazines in the past year – touted as the cowboy broadcaster with a winning style.

The buying binge was made possible by Mays’ prudent decision to pass up highly leveraged deals in recent years and amass financial resources to buy after prices dropped and ownership rules changed.

Mays, 58, boasts an individual and unusual style in running his company- he provides a highly centralized financial base for his stations, then allows his station managers to take the reins to meet their goals. 

He gives his managers wide latitude to run their stations as long as they manage “his money.”

Mays owns 28.1 percent of Clear Channel shares. His partner, B.J “Red” McCombs, San Antonio car dealer and former Spurs owner, owns 20.9 percent.

McCombs and Mays go way back-so far, in fact that McCombs was the longtime friend that Mays asked for advice about the fateful 1972 purchase of what is now KAJA San Antonio.

“He bought radio advertising, so he knew more about it than I did,” Mays said.  

A native of Dallas, he studied petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University and earned an MBA from Harvard.

Mays brought an investors’ concern for cash flow and return on equity to radio and crafted a business strategy that concentrates on local over national advertisers and focuses on results rather than audience share.

Being No. 1 in a market in audience numbers in a market is nice but being No. 1 in revenue is “what’s more important.”

Clear Channel has experienced a steady growth, after-tax cash flow is up at 25 percent compounded annual rate for the past ten years.

Mays has a talent for foreseeing the future and positioning his company to take advantage of trends such as the gains of the Fox Television Network. All but one of his TV stations are Fox affiliates.

Mays also has been more activist-minded than many broadcasters in involving himself in politics and developing friendships with prominent officeholders such as longtime Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and former Gov. Mark White.

White appointed Mays to a six-year term on the Texas A&M University Board of Regents -one of the most highly coveted positions in Texas.

In Washington and Austin, Mays has pushed for regulatory changes such as last year’s relaxation of radio ownership restrictions.

And he says he is ready now to tackle television ownership rules.

“I could do a better job for my customer if I had two TV stations and we’re a multichannel provider, just like the cable system,” he said.

Mays also encourages his managers to develop good relations with lawmakers and to actively participate in broadcast organizations.

Two of TAB’s presidents in recent years, Stan Webb and John Barger, were Clear Channel managers and another, Bill Hill, currently serves as a TAB director.

Mays himself served as chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters’ Joint Radio-Television Board of Directors, the NAB’s top elected post. He also served previously as president of the CBS Radio Board and the NAB Radio Board.

He is a past chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, member of the United Way Executive Committee, and of the University of Texas Health Science Center Development Board.

Although Mays is an ardent A&M supporter, he is married to a former “teasip” as Aggies derisively label UT graduates.

The then Peggy Pitman and Mays met on a blind date while he was assigned to Brook Air Force Base in San Antonio for a two-year military stint.

The Mays have four children, Kathryn Johnson, and Linda, Mark and Randall Mays.

The eldest son, Mark, is Clear Channel’s senior vice president of operations, his second son, Randall, is vice president and treasurer and daughter Kathryn is communications director.

Mays enjoys running his business almost as much as he enjoys “My whole philosophy of life is ‘If it ain ‘t fun, don’t do it.'”

Fun for Mays includes raising longhorns on his 1,800-acre ranch near Bulverde, fishing and building a business that is the envy of broadcasters all over the country.

Lowry Mays

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