Tag: Bryan Broadcasting

Chelsea Reber

2022 Jason Hightower Award for Broadcast Excellence

(Published August 2022)

(Former TAB Chairman Brian Jones wrote and presented the following remarks as part of the awards presentation during the TAB2022 Convention & Trade Show, Aug. 3-4, 2022)

Chelsea Reber

Good evening.  I’m deeply honored to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the late, great Jason Hightower by way of recognizing two rising young professionals who are blazing new trails in the industry as Jason did.

As the esteemed Ben Downs shared with us last year in the inaugural presentation of these awards, Jason was “the person we all wanted to be when we grew up” – with a loving family, the respect of all who knew him and a powerhouse station that enjoyed the rabid loyalty of his community.

Jason would understand that, as a proud Longhorn, I do not concur with Ben’s suggestion then that what everyone secretly wants to own is an Aggie ring.

He also wouldn’t hold it against me and would, in fact, expect me to keep that good-natured rivalry going…which is just one reason Jason was so admired.

I had the privilege of serving on the TAB Board with Jason, first as a director and then as an officer.

I had just joined the Executive Committee when we lost Jason to brain cancer in 2009 – only 11 years after he and his wife, Ingrid, purchased KMOO-FM Mineola.

In that short time, he had built an amazing, successful brand, become chairman of the largest state broadcast association in the country, and was readily acknowledged as a legendary broadcaster – all by age 37.

The example of Jason’s leadership and his tireless devotion to his family, his industry, his community and, yes, to TAB, is an inspiration to those who knew him and who learn of his storied career.

And it is for that reason that TAB established the Jason Hightower Awards for Broadcast Excellence intended for people who have been in the business for 10 years and have already changed it for the better.  

Folks who are advancing their companies, their communities, their fellow citizens.

It is imperative that we honor our colleagues who do these things, or we risk losing the tradition of service that is our industry’s greatest legacy.

And, of course, our greatest promise lies in those younger broadcasters who will shape and lead our industry’s future.

Chelsea Reber

Born and raised in Bryan, Texas – Chelsea Reber has a deep investment in her community.

She completed her Bachelor of Science at Texas A&M University and went on to earn her Masters in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University.

Chelsea has traveled and lived outside the Brazos Valley area to further her education and gain experience and credentials to be a real powerhouse in the broadcast industry.

She officially began her career in 2011 and since then – she’s been working toward maintaining her proficiency in composing and creating high quality contention and mastering the necessary technology.

Throughout the pandemic, Chelsea played a large role in making information available to a wider audience by creating Spanish-language news items to post online and broadcast on sister station La Jefa – a groundbreaking service for the Brazos Valley.

She announces the game action at home volleyball and softball games at Texas A&M, and also is one of the voices of fair and factual information provided on WTAW’s “The Infomaniacs” morning show.

Through the programming, she provides weekly support for Aggieland Humane Society and Long Way Home Adoptables to help their efforts to support animals in need through donations, volunteering, fostering and adoption.

Chelsea loves to host the morning show and then move on to serve the community, meet audience members, act as a first information and showcase local teams and athletes.

She feels so much passion about giving back to a community that has given her so much and continues to do so.

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

Ben Downs

2010 Broadcaster of the Year

(Published August 2010)

TAB’s Broadcaster of the Year believes in locally-oriented, community-focused broadcasting done right.

For Ben Downs, that’s not lip service. He lives those principles every day and expects the same from all his employees.

Ben Downs

Born on a farm just outside Hope, Arkansas, Downs would pretend to deliver the play-by-play into a Coke cup during high school basketball games.

He would begin his radio career by passing the FCC license test on his 14th birthday. Since then, he has always worked in buildings with studios and microphones.

He started in broadcasting in 1968 as a weekend announcer at KXAR Hope. His experience included sharing a mic with future Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. They were also classmates at Hope High School.

While attending Texas A&M University Downs was employed by WTAW and organized his first charity event. The Bryan-College Station Citywide Tennis Tournament presented a check to the local Boys and Girls Club.

He was offered a full-time job the next month and has tried to produce as many of those presentation checks for area charities as possible. After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1976, his broadcasting career included operating two statewide groups of broadcast stations in Texas. Sonance Broadcasting owned stations in Lubbock, Midland, Killeen and Waco. He also managed stations in Nacogdoches, Lufkin and Tyler.

Currently he is the operating partner for five stations in Bryan-College Station: WTAW, KNDE, KZNE, KAGC and KWBC.

Downs, along with partner William Hicks, are the only local residents to own a media outlet in Bryan-College Station. Their commitment to the community is evidenced by providing news, sports and live announcers.

Though he has been with the same station group for 21 years, he is not complacent. His stations became one of the earliest adopters of wireless streaming for radio content in 1995 and he always was a proponent of High Definition FM radio.

Downs says one of the biggest challenges facing broadcasters is how to handle the changing world of technology: “We have to keep trying new things to see what works. Most won’t, some will for awhile, but radio as an industry is pretty quick on its feet when it wants to be. It’ll never be the way it was, but you have to innovate if you want to be around and see the way it’s going to be.”

Like many resident operators, Downs is active in local boards and works for several local charities.

He is an active member of the A&M United Methodist Church and serves on the boards of the Better Business Bureau and the BCS Chamber of Commerce.

He also is the driving force behind the annual BCS Christmas Parade – playing Santa every year!

Under his leadership, Bryan Broadcasting has received TAB’s prestigious Bonner McLane Public Service Awards in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“While Ben is a great broadcaster, it is his belief in community and commitment to others that demonstrates his true integrity and character,” said Congressman Chet Edwards.

“The impact of his leadership at Bryan Broadcasting and the professionalism of his staff is seen throughout our community on a daily basis. Ben truly makes a positive difference in the lives of others every day, and I consider myself privileged to know and work with him.”

His industry peers first elected Downs to the Texas Association of Broadcasters Board of Directors in 1999. He was elected to the TAB Executive Committee and served broadcasters as TAB Chairman in 2003. He was re-elected to the TAB Board in 2007 and in 2010. During this time, he has been a key player in every major TAB initiative – planning conventions, plotting state and federal legislative policy and seeking improvements in the Emergency Alert System.

In 2008, Texas broadcasters elected Downs to represent them on the National Association of Broadcasters Board of Directors.

He feels it is important for leaders in broadcasting to include as many people in their message as possible and he is never shy about speaking out for them.

Return to Previous Winners

Continue reading

All content Copyright © 2024 Texas Association of Broadcasters