Wendell Mayes, Jr. *

2017 Lifetime Achievement Award

(Published August 2017)

Born 93 years ago on March 2nd – Texas Independence Day –  the son of a Texas Radio broadcaster and grandson of the Texas Lt. Governor who founded The University of Texas at Austin’s journalism school, Wendell Mayes, Jr., appears to have been destined to become a Texas broadcast pioneer.

Mayes spent most of his early days in Brownwood and attended Schreiner Institute in Kerrville.

After his freshman year, he transferred to UT-Austin in 1942, but quit to enlist in the U. S. Navy for World War II.

Wendell Mayes, Jr.

The Navy trained him as a radio and radar technician, and he took a specialized course on the radar used on night fighter aircraft.

After World War II ended, Mayes enrolled in Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock.

Majoring in Electrical Engineering, he received a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in May 1949.

That same year, he rejoined his family’s station, KBWD in Brownwood.

The Mayes family’s broadcast holdings totaled 18 radio stations at one time or another, over a period of five decades. Stations were located in Amarillo, Austin, Brownwood, Fort Worth, Midland, Snyder, Sweetwater, Victoria, Waco and Oklahoma City.

In 1973, his station KNOW in Austin received the George Foster Peabody Award, one of the most prestigious awards in broadcasting.

The award honored the station and staff for their outstanding programming, including editorials Mayes wrote and delivered.

Mayes served many terms on the TAB Board of Directors, and his fellow broadcasters elected him Chairman in 1964. TAB presented him with the Pioneer of the Year Award in 1978.

He also served on the National Association of Broadcasters’ Board of Directors from 1969-1973.

Mayes was on TAB’s committee to select a new executive director in 1987, when longtime leader Bonner McLane suddenly passed away.

Mayes was the one who told Ann Arnold, then press secretary to Governor Mark White, that the committee had selected her.

Arnold headed the association for 25 years until her death in 2012 and she often looked to Mayes as a mentor and advisor on everything from broadcasting to politics.

She always recounted the story of Mayes warning her to “watch [her] language around old East Texas broadcasters – who were none too keen on having a sassy woman run their association.”

In 1973, Mayes helped create TAB’s scholarship foundation, the Texas Broadcast Education Foundation.

Over the years, he and his fellow broadcasters have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help deserving college and university students cover tuition and expenses.

“Broadcasting is a people business. The quality of what we do is fully dependent on the quality of the people who do it,” Mayes said.

In 2001, TBEF honored him with a scholarship in his name, to be presented annually to a student at Texas Tech University.

In 2017, he made an additional contribution to TBEF out of concern about skyrocketing tuition costs at Texas colleges and universities.

The Texas Association of Broadcast Educators selected Mayes as Broadcaster of the Year in 1989. Mayes was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2002.

A Lifetime of Learning, Giving Back

Texas Tech named Mayes a Distinguished Alumnus in 1981 and a Distinguished Engineer in 1985. In 1978, he was named to their Mass Communications Hall of Fame. He served as a member of the Texas Tech Board of Regents from 1985 to 1991, leading it as Chairman from 1986 to 1988.

After retiring from his broadcast career, he graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. Edward’s University in Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science in 2002 at age 78.

He went on to earn a Master of Liberal Arts degree in 2005 and a Master of Business Administration in 2006 from St. Edward’s University. Continuing his education in 2013, Mayes received a Ph.D. in Finance – when he was 89 years old – from Walden University.

In addition to all his work on the university level, Mayes is an internationally-known ambassador for the American Diabetes Association and International Diabetes Federation.

He continues to help the diabetes associations with efforts to emphasize research, special events, advocacy, education and fundraising.

When Texas formed the Texas Diabetes Council in 1983, Mayes served as its first Chairman and was the first inductee into the Texas Diabetes Hall of Fame.

Mayes’ quest to make things better for the world around him is the hallmark of a life of community service. His efforts in broadcasting, education and health science are immeasurable.

Mayes passed away in 2021 at the age of 97.

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George Marti *

2010 Lifetime Achievement Award

(Published August 2010)

Everyone in broadcasting knows the name Marti. It’s associated with the well-known and ever-present system for remote broadcasting and Studio Transmitter Links.

The man behind the name – George Marti – is a legendary Texas broadcaster who continues outstanding service to the industry and his community on a daily basis. And he shows no sign of slowing down.

George Marti

George Marti graduated from Central High School in Fort Worth at the age of 16 and then attended technical school for nine months.

He received his radiotelephone First Class and Amateur Radio licenses just prior to his 17th birthday (call letters: W5GLJ).

Marti says his grandmother influenced him more than any other person.

He spent time at her house each day on his way home from the two-room schoolhouse at Oak Grove. She told him when he was 12 that he needed to make a business plan.

He decided that his plan would involve establishing a radio station in Cleburne.

Marti started working part time at KTAT-AM and KFJZ-FM Fort Worth. By 1938, he was employed by Tarrant Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Elliott Roosevelt and later sold to Sid Richardson.

Entering the Marine Corps in 1942, Marti went through basic training in San Diego and then to First Radar School at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC.

During a brief leave in 1944, he met and married Jo Chambers.

After nearly four years, he returned to KFJZ where he worked until 1946.

In April 1947, he and Jo put his first station on the air: KCLE-AM Cleburne.

Marti designed and built his own 250-watt transmitter and audio console in his mother’s living room. KCLE-FM joined the fold in 1949. In 1953, Marti added KKJO in St. Joseph, Mo., and kept the station until 1968.

When he sold KCLE in 1960, Marti started his second career.

Marti began manufacturing Remote Pickup equipment and later added Studio Transmitter Link equipment. Before he designed and built the units and successfully lobbied the FCC to allow their use, radio stations had to use telephone lines that were expensive and not always reliable.

His invention revolutionized the industry. Small stations in remote areas could be operated and stay on the air while being controlled from a larger studio in another city.

He owned and operated Marti Electronics until 1994. During that time, he also had either an interest in or financially supported more than 12 radio stations.

When Broadcast Electronics purchased Marti Electronics, Marti’s equipment was in more than 80 percent of radio stations worldwide.

In 1992, Marti began yet another profession. He and his late wife Jo purchased the Bank of Cleburne, which was within 14 days of failing. He owned the bank for five years, eventually merging it with First Financial of Abilene.

In the 1980s, he and Jo created what he considers his BEST business interest – the Marti Foundation.

The foundation funds scholarships to help Johnson County graduates attend college.

These $10,000 scholarships are aimed at helping youth in lower-income families.

Students must maintain a 2.75 grade-point average and carry a minimum of 14 credit hours per semester to retain their scholarship.

The foundation primarily helps those who are the first children in the family ever to attend college.

More than 300 students have received bachelor degrees from colleges and universities around the state.

Jo passed away in 2003 but her legacy lives on through the foundation. He married his current wife Margaret in 2004.

Marti served six terms as the Mayor of Cleburne and in 2003, the Cleburne Independent School District opened Marti Elementary.

Marti still retains an interest in more than 12 stations in Texas.

In 1991, Marti received Texas broadcasting’s most coveted honor – TAB’s Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year Award.

In the same year, the National Association of Broadcasters presented him with their highest engineering honor.

In 2001, TAB installed the Association’s first Legend of Texas Broadcasting Award on permanent display at the TAB Building in Austin.

He was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2010, the Texas Association of Broadcast Educators named him as their Broadcaster of the Year.

Marti believes that the duty of a broadcaster is to help others.

“If you are not helping people, you are not doing your job.”

View George Marti’s video interview as part of Texas Tech’s TAB Pioneer Broadcaster project

George Marti passed away in 2015 at the age of 95.

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Ann Arnold *

2007 Lifetime Achievement Award

(Published August 2007)

Beverly Ann Watson was born April 6, 1945 in Jackson, Mississippi, the first daughter of Bill and Mildred Watson.

She spent her early years in Little Rock, where her interest in journalism was fostered by the publicity generated by the forced integration of Central High School in 1959.

Ann noticed a marked difference between the way the local and national media covered the events.

“I was always fascinated by the media and its ability to uncover the truth…how important that was,” she would say later.

After moving to Fort Worth, journalism clearly became her passion. She started her junior high school newspaper, wrote for the L.D. Bell High School newspaper and moonlighted for community newspapers, covering evening city council and school board meetings.

In 1963 she went to Texas A&M Arlington, unable to get the needed scholarships to attend the more expensive University of Texas at Austin.

She transferred to UT in 1965 and worked three jobs to pay her way, including the Capitol bureau of the Dallas Times-Herald.

Ann won a 1966 Headliners award for a Dallas Times-Herald series on LSD use and also worked on the Daily Texan.

She graduated UT with a B.A. in Journalism in 1968 and joined UPI’s Capitol bureau under David Anderson, now a professor at the UT School of Law.

That year she married her high school sweetheart, Reg Arnold, and worked at UPI while he finished law school.

The couple’s first son, Bill, was born Jan. 14, 1972. Never one to slow down, Ann was hanging sheetrock at home the day before Bill was born and a few weeks later jumped back into reporting on the gubernatorial election that featured a primary runoff between Frances “Sissy” Farenthold and Dolph Briscoe.

Scandals

The Texas Capitol was rocked by a series of scandals in the 1970s, and Ann reported on everything from nepotism to a state legislator who used state postage stamps to buy a new pickup truck.

She joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1980, despite the fact that Star-Telegram reporters turned her down for a college scholarship because she was a woman and they feared she wouldn’t pursue a journalism career after graduation.

While reporting on Gov.-Elect Mark White’s plans for his administration in 1982, he asked her to be his press secretary.

“I had never thought about leaving journalism,” she recalls and agreed on the condition the Administration be as open as possible with the public. She was the first female press secretary to a Texas Governor.

Gov. White’s administration brought MCC and the high tech industry to Texas, but the biggest accomplishment was passing education reform in a special session in 1984.

The economy crashed in 1986, jeopardizing the hard-won education reforms and crucial state services. Gov. White persuaded the Legislature to hike taxes in a bid to keep Texas’ future economic standing bright. It worked, but cost White re-election.

Serving as press secretary was hectic, made even more so by the birth of second son, Jon, in 1985. It was common to see months-old Jon crawling around the Governor’s Mansion and Press Office before he could walk.

Her Biggest Challenge

After White left office, Ann decided to check with doctors about nagging health problems.

She soon faced the biggest challenge of her life.

Doctors diagnosed her with leukemia and said she had six months to two years to live.

Ann rejected that death sentence, joined an experimental treatment program at UT’s M. D. Anderson and now has lived a remarkable 20 years with the disease. She would not even stay home to feel sorry for herself.

In January 1987, lawmakers were desperate for new revenue and some were eyeing an Ad Tax to help fill state coffers.

When TAB’s long-time Executive Director Bonner McLane died suddenly, the organization tapped Ann to take the reins.

Ann quickly realized that broadcasters – despite their strong community leadership – were unaccustomed to personally lobbying their lawmakers. And TAB could not afford the kind of high-dollar lobbying campaign typical of major public policy fights.

With her legendary power of persuasion and tireless dedication, she mobilized legions of Texas broadcasters from across the state into grassroots lobbying warriors.

The Ad Tax was defeated, the first of many major wins. TAB bested the state’s major phone companies in the early 1990s over legislation allowing them to enter the video business.

That defeat persuaded the phone companies to enter six weeks of negotiations with broadcasters and eventually led to the first state law creating must-carry/retransmission consent rights for television and radio stations.

It set the stage for the cable industry to finally start paying stations for their programming.

Ann focused on shaping state tax policy to ensure broadcasters benefit from the same kind of tax exemptions that other industries do.

She positioned TAB as a primary defender of Texas’ Open Government laws. Scores of seemingly innocuous bills that could have hurt stations were amended or scuttled at her behest.

Texas broadcasters stepped up to the federal playing field, too, as Ann fought new EEO rules hastily adopted and applied retroactively by the FCC.

She helped engineer the defeat of free airtime for political candidates and preserve the tax deductibility of businesses’ advertising costs.

She is broadcasters’ fiercest advocate for enhancing the Emergency Alert System and has laid the groundwork for the media industry’s ongoing efforts to pass a Free Flow of Information Act in Texas.

Always looking to the future, Ann also undertook a massive effort to strengthen the association, increasing membership 50 percent, creating the Non-Commercial Sustaining Announcement program that is now TAB’s main source of revenue, expanding services for stations and recruiting top professional staff.

In 1999, TAB constructed a permanent home blocks from the State Capitol that now hosts industry events and meetings with lawmakers.

She also grew the Texas Broadcast Education Foundation’s endowment and organized successful fundraisers to create scholarships honoring Lady Bird Johnson, Wendell Mayes, Vann Kennedy and Tom Reiff.

For the past 20 years, Ann’s vision, fearlessness and tenacity have allowed TAB to flourish and prosper. Her accomplishments and continuing leadership will help Texas broadcasters achieve even more to ensure the industry’s continued vitality.

Ann Arnold

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