George Marti *

1991 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

2010 Lifetime Achievement Award

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 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

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Bob Hicks *

1965 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

Bob Hicks, owner-general manager of KWEL/KBA T in Midland, has made history in Texas broadcasting and over the past 40 years, helped many current-day broadcasters start their careers.

Hicks put KBAT on the air in 1973 as the first completely auto­mated 100,000-watt station in Texas.

He got his start in radio working as a disc jockey for Jay Harpole at KVOU in Uvalde. He worked his way up to general manager and then began buying and running stations on his own.

Born in China Springs, Texas, Hicks grew up in Waco and attended Baylor University.

An inveterate jokester, Hicks once invited the president and scores of other dignitaries to a reception at the home of Clint Formby.

Long before the days of WKRP-Cincinnati, Hicks promoted his Falfurrias station’s clients by dropping live turkeys from the top of the two-story Hobbs Clothing Store.

Hicks says what makes radio great is its ability to make a difference and help people. He practices what he preaches.

An active member of Kiwanis, Hicks holds the longest record for both perfect attendance and standing membership in the Midland Kiwanis at 39 years.

Hicks was a charter member of the Uvalde Kiwa­nis Club in 1950, served as president of the Falfurrias Club, as Ki­wanian of the year and as the group’s youngest lientenant governor.

In Midland, Hicks served on the Chamber of Commerce and organ­ized funding and production of a public relations documentary, “Land of the High Sky.”

As Chairman of the Midland Housing Authority, he helped coordinate a $4.1 million HUD project providing 300 low-cost homes. Hicks also serves on the Board of Directors of the High Sky Girls Ranch for orphaned and underprivileged girls.

Hicks, 62, has five children and seven grandchildren.

View Bob Hicks’ interview as part of Texas Tech’s TAB Pioneer Broadcaster project

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Bev E. Brown *

1986 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

Beverly E. Brown, owner-manager of KGAS-AM in Carthage, was honored by the Texas Association of Broadcasters as its Pioneer Broadcaster for 1986.

Brown, who has been in broadcasting for three decades, was honored by his peers during TAB’s annual convention at the Palacio del Rio Hilton in San Antonio.

The Pioneer Broadcaster is the highest award conveyed by the organization.

The 59-year-old station manager has owned KGAS AM since 1965 and is president-manager of Carthage Cable-Vision, Inc.        

His service to his industry includes stints as president of TAB and of the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters.

He is currently radio board chairman for the National Association of Broadcasters.

“Brown is a fine example of what broadcasting is all about,” said Bonner McLane of Austin in presenting the award.

Executive vice president of TAB, McLane won the award last year.

“Brown has used his small market radio station to serve his community in any way possible for more than 20 years, and he has served his industry both locally and nationally,” McLane added. “He represents the best qualities of Texas broadcasting today.”

A native of Kilgore, Brown attended Panola Junior College and Texas A&M before entering the broadcasting field. He served in various broadcasting posts before purchasing KGAS. He moved into cable TV operations in 1972.

He became a member of the TAB Pioneer Broadcasting Chapter in 1983 and has also served on the NAB’s Legislative Liaison Committee.

Among Brown’s community involvements, he served as president of the Panola County Chamber of Commerce, the Panola County Development Foundation and Panola County Youth Activities, Inc.,

He is a charter member of the Sabine River Development Association, Sales and Marketing Executives of East Texas and the Texas Election Central Advisory Task Force.         

He also served as a trustee for Panola Junior college for 18 years and is a director of the Panola National Bank in Carthage.

Town fathers in Carthage recognized Brown’s contributions to his community by designating October 5, 1982 as Bev E. Brown Day.

Brown retired from the Texas Army National Guard in 1968 as a lieutenant colonel.

He married the former Joyce Ann Hooker in 1948. He and his wife have three children and three grandchildren.

Texas Broadcasters Mourn Loss of Pioneer Broadcaster Bev Brown

(published April 2020)

Brown passed away on April 4, 2020 at the age of 92.

In 1955, he began his 33-year career in Radio at KGAS Carthage; he became managing partner in 1957.

He purchased the station in 1965 and operated it until retiring in 1988. At that time, he had served as the voice of Carthage Football for more than 30 years.

He served as TAB Chairman in 1982 and his fellow broadcasters named him Pioneer of the Year in 1986.

If desired, memorials may be made to the Carthage Education Foundation, #1 Bulldog Drive, Carthage, Texas 75633 or the First United Methodist Church, 201 South Shelby, Carthage, Texas 75633.

View Bev Brown’s interview as part of Texas Tech’s “Pioneers of TAB” project

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Read more about Bev Brown (Longview News-Journal)

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Bonner McLane *

1985 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

IT IS ENTIRELY FITTING and proper that a verbal memoriam to Bonner McLane be couched in loving, whimsical terms, because Bonner was such a man. True, Bonner did almost single-handedly bring the Texas Association of Broadcasters to a position of pre-eminence among all other state groups, and yes, he did establish the first completely full service ad agency in Austin (and the biggest too) and correct he did educate (in the classroom and elsewhere) most of the prominent in People who are or claim to be prominent in the field today.

THERE WAS A LIGHTER SIDE of Bonner, though, complete with a twinkle in those rich blue eyes, and a hand to reposition that wavy head of hair which would have done justice to three men.

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Stan McKenzie *

1984 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year

Stan McKenzie was born and raised in Miami….that’s Miami in the Texas Panhandle

He got his BFA in radio broadcasting from UT Austin in 1950.

During his UT years he did sports announcing part-time for KVET Austin and KTAE Taylor.

He landed at KWED Seguin fresh out of college where he did news, sales, editorials, copy writing…and sports.

McKenzie became station manager in 1954 and too over as owner in 1970. He added KWED-FM that same year.

Kern Tips hired him for the Humble Southwest Conference Football Network in 1955.  McKenzie did play by play for them for the next 29 years.

Stan retired from managing KWED in 1985 and sold the property in 1987.

He was always active in TAB, serving as Chairman in 1974.

He also served on the National Association of Broadcasters Board of Directors, President of the Texas Education Broadcast Association, President of Seguin Chamber of Commerce, and numerous other committees.

McKenzie passed away on July 3, 2017 at the age of 89.

Legendary broadcaster Stan McKenzie dies; McKenzie remembered for radio talent on KWED, on Southwest Conference football games

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