Jim Colley

2024 Associate of the Year

(Published August 2024)

TAB truly values the participation of all the Associate Members whose products and services help Texas Radio and Television stations with all their day-to-day operations.

From contract engineers to tower and transmitter manufacturers, to software and equipment resellers – Associate Members make the Texas broadcast industry thrive.

Jim Colley

Jim Colley, Regional Sales Mgr./Southeastern USA, has been with RCS for more than 30 years. In all that time, Jim has almost NEVER missed a TAB Convention & Trade Show.

“Jim is one of the most beloved vendors in Texas Radio!  His expertise and passion have helped scores of clients streamline their operations for and enhance their programming while benefiting the bottom line,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez.

At the age of 14, Jim began his broadcast career at WTBF Troy, Ala.

After high school and an active-duty tour with the Air Force, he made noted stops at Radio stations in North Carolina and Alabama – always focusing on programming and on-air duties.

Eventually, Jim decided to go the sales/management route.

Colonial Broadcasting hired him as the GSM for a new country station – WLWI-FM in Montgomery, Ala – and then he was promoted to Senior Sales VP/GM of the company’s second station.

He took WOWW-107 FM from a start-up to the #1 ratings position in less than a year.

During his tenure, the station received Billboard Magazine’s Station of the Year, as well as awards for Personalities and Program Director of the Year.

Jim took his programming and sales background to help the design team at Datacount for development of the DARTS Traffic Software – and he and his wife Lora marketed the product for several years.

When he joined RCS in 1993, he also became active in TAB.

RCS is the World’s Largest Broadcast Software Company with products in thousands of Radio and TV stations, music channels, cable companies, ad agencies, satellite networks and streaming stations worldwide.  

The company invented music scheduling on computers, opening its doors in 1979 with the very first version of the legendary Selector.

In the last decade, RCS has reinvented the way broadcasters approach their craft with the introduction of new and updated software services.

A hallmark of RCS from the beginning was the strategy to base product improvements on feedback from its loyal customers and experienced power users.

“Jim’s love for Radio and profound respect for our industry’s mission has set a standard for all industry vendors to emulate and TAB is honored to recognize his dedication and decades of leadership,” Rodriguez said.

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

Dan Sessler *

2017 Associate of the Year

(Published August 2017)

Over the years, TAB’s Annual Convention & Trade Show has become the largest state broadcast association event in the nation. None of this would be possible without support from Associate Members like Dan Sessler with RF Specialties.

dan Sessler

After his first radio engineering job in West Virginia, where he helped build his area’s local public television, in his “spare time,” Sessler started a company called Professional Electronics.

The company sold and installed fire and burglar alarms along with sound reinforcement systems for churches and outdoor events.

Following the sale of his company in the mid-1970s, Sessler moved into radio station ownership to became co-owner of the same AM/FM combo he helped build when he was in his early twenties. Sessler served as GM, GSM, Chief Engineer and as a pilot, reporting traffic over the city in the station’s aircraft.

He sold his interest in the stations in 1988 and moved to Florida to become the Regional Sales Manager for the Harris Corporation’s Radio Broadcast Products division.

In 1998, Sessler accepted a transfer to Texas to become Harris’ Regional Television Sale Manager for DTV products throughout a nine state region.

He has served on the TAB Board of Directors and consulted TAB President Ann Arnold – and the Board – on the construction of the TAB Building in Austin.

After 22 years with Harris (most of it on airplanes!) – and after the DTV conversion was over – Sessler joined the RF Specialties Group. He now has more than 40 years of broadcast industry experience – in both technology and sales.

RF Specialties has been a TAB Silver Star Associate Member since 1989 and they’ve participated in the convention for more than 30 years. Sessler has been the president/general manager for RF Specialties of Texas for nearly eight years.

He purchased the branch from 2006 TAB Associate of the Year Don Jones in 2011 and moved the company’s Texas office from Amarillo to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

For many years, RF has been a source for RF products such as AM/FM, TV and satellite transmitters, antennas, coaxial cable, and STL and RPU equipment.The company also features a complete range of studio products, such as audio consoles, microphones, amplifiers, speakers and digital audio editing and storage systems.

“Even though RF is kind of our competition – they have always done a great job taking care of their Texas customers,” said GBS’ Dan Giesler, 2016 TAB Associate of the Year.

Beginning with his time at Harris, Sessler has been a huge supporter of the TAB and the Texas broadcast engineering community.

Sessler is always one of the first companies to sign on as a TAB Convention Sponsor. His companies have co-sponsored TAB’s Walk-Around Lunch in the exhibit hall for many years.

Additionally, Sessler has been joining with GBS and several other TAB Associate Members to host an annual dinner for Texas engineers and their guests.

The dinner, held during the TAB Convention, has grown from just a handful of engineers to an event with nearly 200 attendees.

“The TAB Convention schedules many ‘Can’t Miss’ events, but on the first night of the convention you can find every Radio and TV engineer at the annual engineer’s dinner,” said TAB Chairman Ben Downs.

“What began as a modest event providing an opportunity to swap engineering war stories has grown so large that an entire restaurant has to be rented to accommodate the engineering talent that gathers for the Convention.”

Sessler and Giesler also partner with a handful of vendors and TAB Associate Members to host regional holiday gatherings across Texas. In 2016, they hosted 11 events in nine days, from Harlingen to El Paso and everywhere in between!

“TAB relies on the insight and leadership of our Associate Members to ensure the TAB Show and our year-round services address the key needs of our industry,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez.

“Dan Sessler ranks at the top of those Associates to whom TAB can credit much of our success.”

Dan Sessler passed away in August 2020.

View full obituary

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

Dan Giesler

2016 Associate of the Year

(Published August 2016)

At some point in their careers, most folks in Texas broadcast engineering have bought a product from Giesler Broadcasting Supply (GBS).

Founder Bernie Giesler has been a fixture in the Texas broadcast industry for more than 50 years – and all that time, GBS has been a family affair.

Gieslers

At some point in their careers, most folks in Texas broadcast engineering have bought a product from Giesler Broadcasting Supply (GBS).

Founder Bernie Giesler has been a fixture in the Texas broadcast industry for more than 50 years – and all that time, GBS has been a family affair.

Based in the Houston area, GBS has been a generous and longtime supporter of both TAB and the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). 

In 1978, Bernie and his wife Frances started GBS in their living room with two phone lines.  Over the years, all of Bernie’s children spent time working for the company, in a variety of capacities.

Bernie’s son Dan has been the face of the company for many years and he continues the company’s strong relationship with TAB and local SBE chapters across Texas.

Electronics always came naturally to Dan.  In his teenage years, he was busy building stereos, fixing dishwashers and rewiring the house. 

In 1982, Dan graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering when the airplane business was in a slump.

He decided to see how the family radio station equipment business was working…and business was booming.

GBS in the early 1990s continued to be a true family affair: Bernie, Uncle Ambrose, Dan, Tim, Kathleen and Joe with Bridget being utilized on special projects.

GBS came to a major crossroads in 1997.  Bernie retired and moved to Lake Conroe.

The Giesler kids looked at each other the first day after Bernie’s retirement and agreed on one thing: “We’d better start selling something.”

Through the late 1990s and early 2000s, Kathleen and Joe moved to other industries, leaving Tim and Dan at the helm.

“Dan Giesler has always exemplified integrity, knowledge and partnership in our business with him and GBS” stated Steve Davis, Senior Vice President | Real Estate, Facilities & Capital Management, iHeartMedia.

“One of the first contacts I had in the Radio Business back in 1975 was Bernie Giesler. Dan and Tim have carried on in the great tradition of their father,” said Marty Wind, Executive VP/GM, KLUX Diocese of Corpus Christi.

“To have a family continuously operate a Broadcast supply business for more than 40 years is quite notable and speaks to the integrity of their business ethic.   Dan and Tim (and Bernie) have always been there for us. Recognition is richly deserved.”

“I have found Dan to be a great help in supplying equipment for many projects, not only mine, but for many other engineers and broadcasters,” said Dan Walthers, VP of Engineering for iHeartMedia in San Antonio. 

“He is always knowledgeable about his products and is very willing to go out of his way to help a broadcaster resolve an odd situation or get him back on the air the quickest way possible.”

“If a broadcaster finds a product they heard about but couldn’t get, Dan will be the one to research the product and acquire that product, or offer a better one to purchase,” said Gil Garcia, VP of iHeartMedia in Austin. 

“His knowledge, integrity, honesty and kindness to his fellow broadcasters and competitors have made him a valued leader and friend to us in broadcasting.”

Bernie was one of the first vendors to serve on the steering committee to plan the TAB Convention’s technical program. 

For many years, GBS has been one of the first companies to sign up for the booths in the Trade Show, simply underscoring their commitment to the TAB.

One of their most successful events is the annual Engineers Dinner – now in its 26th year with more than 150 annual attendees.

Vendors, manufacturers and dealers from all over the nation come together to support TAB and Texas SBE. Dan is very proud that GBS is one of two founders of the event.

GBS continues to supply the latest technology and help broadcasters stay on the leading edge of communication advances.

For the first time in TAB history, broadcasters are presenting GBS with their second Associate of the Year Award.

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

Dick Pickens *

2013 Associate of the Year

(Published August 2013)

For more than 40 years, Dick Pickens has dedicated his engineering and management expertise to the betterment of the Texas broadcasting industry.

Pickens is owner of TAB Associate Member Microcom Systems, Inc., and also serves as an inspector in TAB’s Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program.

Dick Pickens

Pickens began his radio career at the age of 10.

Dickie Pickens and nine-year-old Ben Laurie started a hometown Saturday morning kids program on KEBE-AM 1400 Jacksonville. 

The “Keebie Kids” show had a live studio audience and live talent.

On an early “Keebie Kids” show, an eight-year-old girl named Nancy performed a piano selection.

Nine years later, Pickens asked for her musically talented hand in marriage. Overnight, she became Nancy Pickens but the very next day…he became Dick Laine. 

He took that pseudonym when he joined the Gordon McLendon stations as a Top 40 deejay. Over the next 10 years Dick Laine was on the air in several Texas markets.

He brought rock-and-roll to Austin as program director and on-air personality for the original KOKE 1370, then later for KNOW 1490 when it switched from ABC to become a Top 40 station.

The Texas Radio Hall of Fame inducted Dick Laine in 2012.

All through his radio years, he was developing skills on the technical side, learning under various station engineers and correspondence courses.

In 1962, he earned his first Amateur Radio license and two years later, he passed the FCC’s test for a First Class commercial radio operator license. He worked up to an Amateur Radio Extra Class License in 1975 with the call sign K5UD.  In between all of that, he finished his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1966.

Pickens entered the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary while remaining with KNOW as chief engineer. 
With first a Bachelor of Divinity, then a Master of Divinity degree, he and Nancy went to work helping young people who were hooked on drugs and living on the streets, especially around “the Drag” at UT.

They began a Christian music coffeehouse where they used their past showmanship skills to draw kids off the street for, as someone put it, “sweet music, bitter coffee and a better life.”

He continued to do radio and media production and later worked at Austin’s KVET and KASE both on-air and on the technical side.

He managed all of the radio towers belonging to KVET’s owner Roy Butler. He even started a successful radio common carrier company with mobile telephones (the predecessor of cell phones) at KVET.

Pickens was especially honored in the early 80s when he received a lectureship position in the UT College of Communication.

They wanted someone to teach senior broadcasting majors the “hands-on” side of radio/TV, including the development of programming and production skills.

Beginning in 1982, he put his experience to work as a consultant to radio stations. This way he could perform his church-related duties without a salary. 

In addition, he was a weekday morning news/talk show host on KIXL’s “Morning Magazine” plus hosting “Sunday Song,” a Christian music program on 94.7 FM.

Yet another challenge came in the 1990s when TAB began ABIP – the TAB/FCC Alternate Broadcast Inspection Program. At first Pickens was unsure about taking on the role of a quasi-FCC inspector, but wife Nancy knew it was “his kind of thing” and she pressured him to sign up for it.

Now they travel together inspecting radio and TV stations for FCC compliance. Nancy is the team’s Public File specialist.

“Dick is always willing to help out a fellow broadcaster with technical issues and his sage advice is greatly appreciated by the broadcast community,” said Mike Wenglar, KVUE-TV Austin.

“I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with Dick for more than 40 years. I can’t think of anyone else who has the qualities of motivation, dedication, honesty and trustworthiness – and a deep love of radio,” said Gil Garcia, Clear Channel Media & Entertainment.

Dick and Nancy Pickens are dad and mom to three married kids and their mates as well as grandparents to 14 youngsters and adults. They even have one great-grandson who is already grabbing the microphones at nine months old.

Dick still teaches and preaches the Bible in churches.

Some would say he also preaches the FCC Rules and Regulations to Texas stations.

Dick Pickens passed away in February 2022.

View full obituary

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

David Oxenford

2011 Associate of the Year

(Published August 2011)

TAB annually recognizes Associate Members who provide outstanding products and services to the Texas broadcast industry.

This year’s award recipient continues to support Texas radio and television stations with his learned knowledge and legal expertise.

David Oxenford

David Oxenford is a partner at the Davis Wright Tremaine law firm in Washington, DC.

He graduated from the College of William & Mary in 1977 with a B.A. in Government and Philosophy. In 1980, he received his J.D. from the Emory University School of Law.

While he was a student at William & Mary, Oxenford began working at the college radio station and later became the general manager.

He was interested in owning a station, but decided to take a different route focusing on the legal aspects of broadcasting.

In 1980, he became an associate and then partner with the Fisher Wayland Cooper Leader & Zaragoza law firm.

Fisher Wayland was the main communications law firm for most of the state broadcast associations. He stayed with the firm for 20 years and continued when they merged with Shaw Pittman.

In 2006, he took a position with the Davis Wright Tremaine law firm to continue his passion for working for broadcasters and first amendment rights.

His clients include Buckley Broadcasting, Connoisseur Media, Drewry Broadcasting, Educational Media Foundation, the Mid West Family Stations, the National Association of Media Brokers, Triad Broadcasting, Bryan Broadcasting and numerous state broadcast associations.

He is most proud of the relationships he has established with broadcasters across the country and enabling them to grow their businesses.

“Texas broadcasters are very dynamic and committed to progress. They are cutting-edge leaders in the industry,” he said.

Oxenford also represents digital media companies, including a number of Internet radio companies.

He represents these companies before the Copyright Office, the Copyright Royalty Board, and other government agencies, and he advises them on music royalty issues as well as other general business and regulatory matters.

Named as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in Communications Law for 2011, Oxenford has devoted his career to defending and advancing the causes of the broadcast industry.

Oxenford’s updates and advisories as well as his Internet postings are regularly published by various associations and trade publications. He is a regular speaker at the TAB Convention as well as national broadcast, webcasting and music conferences.

Many broadcasters consider his excellent communications law blog – www.broadcastlawblog.com – to be one of the most highly-respected sources of learned opinion and insight available to the industry. He makes it available for everyone – all free of charge.

The TABulletin regularly uses portions of the blog in FCC-related articles. Other industry trade magazines such as Broadcasting & Cable and industry websites do the same, and there’s a reason why.

He has a talent for taking a complex technical or regulatory issue and explaining, in an easily understood fashion, how it could impact a broadcaster’s day-to-day operations.

If there’s an FCC ruling and fine, Oxenford demonstrates why there was a problem and offers tips and considerations for other broadcasters to use to avoid similar situations.

He also has a knack for being prescient on how new technology, legal rulings and business practices could affect broadcasters, and freely shares his views on such.

TAB’s 2011 webcast on privacy issues affecting broadcasters is a good example. Oxenford explored not just the “ traditional” privacy issues broadcasters must contend with (such as those involved in newsgathering and on-air broadcasts), but also the issues arising from other technology that stations use daily such as phones, fax, emails, texts, tweets, social media and station websites.

He has presented seminars and webcasts on the FCC’s EEO rules; broadcasting and music law; political broadcasting; privacy issues in broadcasting; legal and technical online streaming issues; legal issues regarding station websites; and public interest obligations, just to name few.

Oxenford has a “can do” spirit and when he commits to a project, he sees it through, even if there’s bad weather involved.

A few years ago upon returning from an international trip, a bad snow storm threatened to strand Oxenford at a New York airport, but he assured TAB that as long as he had a working phone, he would make a previously scheduled webcast…even if it meant he couldn’t see his powerpoint slides. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that and the webcast came off without a hitch.

He has been presenting in-person TAB seminars on political broadcasting since the early 1990s and twice endured multi-city tours of the state to update broadcasters on the FCC’s regulations.

As a result of those seminars, no Texas broadcaster has been fined on an FCC political broadcast regulation violation for more than two decades.
“David continues to be most generous with his time and expertise,” said former TAB Chairman Ben Downs.

“While most attorneys guard their time closely, David has always returned calls from staff and member stations without consideration for billable hours.
“He knows the TAB staff well and understands the value our association has on a national stage. His guidance is wise and most often correct.”

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

Dirk Johnston

2010 Associate of the Year

(Published August 2010)

From legal assistance and programming to state of the art equipment and sales training, Texas broadcasters turn to TAB Associate Member firms on a daily basis for the products and services to keep their stations up and running.

Over the years, TAB’s Annual Convention & Trade Show has become the largest state broadcast association event in the nation.

Dirk Johnston

None of it would be possible without support from TAB Associate Members.

Throughout his career, TAB’s 2010 Associate of the Year has positioned himself as a talented, smart executive whose diligent work has earned him the respect of many generations of Texas television broadcasters.

For more than 15 years, Dirk Johnston has supported the Texas television industry by providing quality programming opportunities.

As a former general manager, he understands “first-hand” the complexities of providing quality programming to viewers while at the same time, maximizing revenue potential to profit stations.

Johnston was born in Kansas City, grew up in Dallas and attended Southern Methodist University where he was head cheerleader.

He received a BBA and chemistry degree with the intention of going to medical school.

However, his interest in cheerleading led him to a very different career path.

He began working with the National Cheerleading Association and became involved with televising competitions and halftime shows.

His involvement in broadcasting led to a management position with KTEN Sherman-Ada from 1987 through 1994.

In 1994, he joined Sony Pictures Entertainment and spent 12 years as senior vice president.

In 2007, he joined NBC-Universal and has been with them for the last three years.

His long list of syndication achievements include shows like “Seinfeld,” “Mad About You,” “King of Queens,” “Law & Order,” “30 Rock”…the list goes on and on.

Johnston said it was an easy transition from broadcasting to syndication. He knew the product as a purchaser, so he could relate to the television buyers.

Johnston has always been a strong proponent of the Texas Association of Broadcasters. In 1999, he joined with other syndication representatives to start TAB’s Annual Golf Tournament. The tournament is in its 11th year, and nearly 100 broadcasters from all over the nation enjoy hitting the links each year.

He continues to encourage Texas stations to get involved and take full advantage of the resources the association offers.

“Dirk has been our NBC-Universal representative for many years now and always has been a true professional,” said Kevin Lovell, general manager of KVIA-TV El Paso. “He knows the ins and outs of the business and always has prompt, knowledgeable answers for any questions we may have. He’s a pleasure to work with.”

“Dirk has been a valuable partner in our syndication as we build out our independent station,” said Brent McClure, KFDA-TV Amarillo. “He is honest about his product and gives fair perspective on competitive products. Integrity is a valuable part of our business and Dirk has it.”

Johnston sees the future of broadcasting as ever-changing, but the constant will always be providing a good quality product that is entertaining no matter the medium used to view it.

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

Laura Lee Prather

2009 Associate of the Year

(Published August 2009)

TAB’s Associate of the Year has established a reputation as a fierce advocate for broadcasters in the legal arena.

Laura Lee Prather, a partner with TAB Associate Member law firm Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, has been a longtime leader on TAB’s Open Government Task Force.

Laura Prather

In addition to representing television and radio stations in a wide variety of court cases, Laura is an avid supporter of TAB programs and events that foster greater understanding of issues confronting broadcasters.

This year, she was especially instrumental in the passage of the Texas Free Flow of Information Act.

Fighting for the First Amendment

Laura was born in Norwalk, Conn. and grew up in New Orleans and Houston. During a 10th grade class project focusing on free speech, she decided not only did she want to be an attorney, she also wanted to specialize in First Amendment law.

Laura graduated from the University of Texas in 1988 with highest honors. She received her J.D. from UT-Austin three years later. Following graduation, she clerked for U.S. District Judge Hayden W. Head, Jr. in Corpus Christi and then joined a Los Angeles law firm. She joined George, Donaldson and Ford in 1993.

Five years later, she joined the Central Texas Media practice of Jackson Walker, another longtime TAB Associate Member.

In June 2006, Laura joined SDMA and opened their Austin office. SDMA’s clients include Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox, Gannett Broadcasting, USA Today, CBS, Emmis Communications and Nexstar Broadcasting.

In 2008, Texas Lawyer named her one of the “Extraordinary Women in Texas Law,” a recognition of the state’s top 30 leading women lawyers. Laura also serves on the Legislative Advisory Committees of the Texas Daily Newspaper and Texas Press Associations. She previously served on the board of directors for public television station KLRU-TV and on the advisory board for the Center for Child Protection.

She continues to share her commitment to the First Amendment with future leaders as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law in Media & Entertainment Law.
This year, her peers elected her president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

The Free Flow Battle

TAB first tried to pass a Free Flow of Information Act in 1990. The 2009 effort benefited from the renewed support of long-time sponsors in the Senate: Sens. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston and Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock.

On the House side, the effort was launched by Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer, D-San Antonio, whose can-do attitude made a world of difference in the media’s efforts.

The new HB 670 (the Texas Free Flow of Information Act) was heard by the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence committee this time around, and there were only three returning members of the committee who had heard the issue in previous sessions.

From the beginning, Chairman Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, worked to have the bill heard early and he put tremendous pressure on the prosecutorial community to sit down and have a meaningful discussion and negotiate with the media on the bill.

Laura and Chairman Hunter led four different negotiation sessions with the prosecutors – the final one lasting more than 13 hours. Thanks to their dedication and tenacity, Texas now has a law on the books to protect whistleblowers and newsrooms alike.

“I saw her out think, out maneuver, outwit, out flank and out negotiate four District Attorneys. It was this final marathon negotiation session that was the final piece which made the bill one which was adopted unanimously in both the House and Senate,” said Retired Senator Don Adams.“She was stellar and there is no way to calculate her value and importance to the Free Flow effort.”

Laura knows that not only is the Free Flow bill the “right thing” to have fought for, but the new law will save tremendous time and exposure for Texas broadcasters and all Texas media.

Working for Texas Broadcasters

Laura has served on the TAB Board of Directors since 2006 and her firm – SDMA – is a frequent sponsor of TAB events. She received TAB’s Special President’s Award in 2005 for her work on Open Government.

She has devoted countless hours opposing bills which seek to close school records or criminal background checks, bills which expunge criminal records – the list goes on and on. She has been a member of TAB’s Open Government Task Force since 1999 and is a frequent speaker at TAB’s Legislative Day and Newsroom Workshops.

Laura believes that Open Government laws are the key to a free society and democracy will cease to exist without checks and balances.

TAB salutes Laura Lee Prather as a true hero for Texas broadcasters and the First Amendment.

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

All content Copyright © 2024 Texas Association of Broadcasters