Tag: KBTX-TV Bryan-College Station

Josh Gorbutt

2021 Jason Hightower Award for Broadcast Excellence

(Published August 2021)

(Former TAB Chairman Ben Downs, Bryan Broadcasting, wrote and presented the following remarks as part of the awards presentation during the TAB2021 Convention & Trade Show, Aug. 3-4, 2021)

Josh Gorbutt

I’m very pleased that TAB has chosen to recognize Jason Hightower with an award in his honor.

Jason was the person we all wanted to be when we grew up.   He had a wonderful family: Ingrid and children Brazos, Wyatt and Halee Grace.   

He had the respect of everyone who knew him. He served his industry in Austin and in Washington.  He moved into ownership. And he owned what everyone secretly wants to own… An Aggie ring.

He also owned one of the great full service local radio stations.  KMOO in Mineola.  A local station that broadcast the daily Country Store.  The station with vehicles painted like cows.  Fundraisers, free airtime, and every phone call answered with a cheerful greeting of “Howdy, K-Moo.”

Jason and I worked with and opposite each other in College Station where we were united in the shared adversity of being Aggies.  And when it came to local radio, Jason caught the radio bug and did a lot more with it than most.

He was the voice of East Texas.  He loved local radio and the people loved him back. He lobbied for the free flow of information act in the Texas Legislature and educated our reps in Washington DC about the value of local radio.

He was a Board Member.  He was that guy who got called when something had to be done, and when getting it done mattered. He fought the good fight.  Jason was really good at that.  

When the FCC Chairman was blowing our hair back in anger, Jason knew that was the time to fold your presentation up and listen politely.  If a congressman confused us with something he heard on XM, Jason was gentle in his correction.

He really was good at that.  Austin, Washington, Wood County.  He understood in his heart the duty broadcasters have to serve their communities and could tell people in positions of power how he was doing it with KMOO.

But when he was 33 years old, the tumor showed up and a different sort of battle began.  The first surgery was successful, and things were looking good.  But, Jason was a realist.  

The TAB approached him to serve on the executive committee which would ultimately lead to being Chairman of the largest state broadcast association in the US. 

When we talked about accepting, he spoke plainly and told me, You’re asking me for a five year commitment.  You know I have brain cancer, right.  Are you crazy?  

I told him whether it was five or 50, we needed him doing this.

Ultimately, he said yes and he was one of the great ones.  And he almost made it. He was on the EC for four years and had been chairman for about half a year when he was taken, and we lost someone who had helped make Texas radio great.

He was a legendary broadcaster…at the age of 37.

It’s important to remember when somebody stands out for all the right things like Jason did.  

We can’t afford to lose the example of broadcasters like him. 

When someone works tirelessly for his family, his industry, his community, and yes, this association, we shouldn’t entrust the importance of those accomplishments to the fading memories of just the people who knew him.  

And for that reason, the TAB has instituted a new award for people who have been in the business for 10 years and have already changed it for the better.  

Improving their companies, their communities, the lives of others.  

Because the people who do these things should never be allowed to merge into the background of the day to day.

We should never be so confident as to assume people who do this work will always be the face of our industry.  Because it won’t happen without the commitment of the people in this room and the people like Jason Hightower

Tonight, we honor three people who have made this difference in their communities.

Josh Gorbutt

The nomination form for our next recipient was over 10 pages long.  And on every page were examples of how Josh Gorbutt serves the Bryan College-Station Community.  

Josh Gorbutt first got a taste for broadcasting when he was nine by using his parents’ old VHS camcorder that was big enough to tip him over

Josh joined the KBTX team in 2008 as a newscast director and creative services producer, directing evening newscasts at the CBS affiliate and creating commercials for station clients.

He officially stepped into the role of News Director at KBTX in the summer of 2015.

In 2017, he oversaw the station’s 60th anniversary broadcasts, as well as an investigation into the mysterious separation of a Bryan ISD superintendent who was the subject of multiple ethics complaints. KBTX was ultimately awarded the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation Award for their work on the story.

Josh married Breanne after the two met at KBTX. They live in College Station with their two children, 3-year-old Maggie and 1-year-old John, and dog Oscar.

Josh is a classic movie fan and a voracious reader, though with a three-year-old, Pete the Cat and Dragons Love Tacos is now on his reading list every…single…night.

When nonprofits and community partners approach their newsroom with a need, Josh finds a way to creatively utilize resources and help.

Under Josh’s leadership, KBTX helped raise more than $2 million for local charities dealing with the impact of COVID-19 during 2020.

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Mike Wright

2013 Broadcaster of the Year

(Published August 2013)

TAB’s Broadcaster of the Year Award honors someone who has made a commitment to excellence over the past year and is an example to others in broadcasting, as well as to his own community.

Mike Wright, general manager of KBTX-TV Bryan-College Station, will celebrate 41 years in the broadcast industry in August 2013.

Mike Wright

If you ask him, he’s looking forward to many more.

His career in broadcasting began at a very young age. Wright found his love for broadcasting at the age of 11, as he worked the turntables at a local radio station KBUS in Mexia.

He joined KBTX in 1991 as national sales manager and soon became co-anchor of “Brazos Valley This Morning,” one of the station’s top-rated newscasts. Wright took over the GM’s office in 2003 and hasn’t looked back.

Each week in the department manager meeting he asks, “What will you do today that will make KBTX better than it was yesterday?”

“Mike exemplifies leadership. He demonstrated to his staff that the only way to become an exceptional station is to do exceptional things,” said Ben Downs, general manager of Bryan Broadcasting.

Station Innovation

KBTX-TV has seen many accomplishments this past year, all due in part to Wright’s leadership and vision.  In June 2012, KBTX-TV aired its first newscast in a new, state-of-the-art facility. Wright helped Gray Television engineers to plan a complete reconstruction of the newsroom and the studio.

The effort he put into the project has made history in Gray Television. KBTX-TV is the only local television station within the company to fully  “shop local” and use a local top-quality construction company on a studio redesign.

In July 2012, Wright led the rebrand of KBTX-TV’s second tier station, The CW, to CW8 Aggieland.

He created a promotions team and social media team to aide in the launch of the rebrand. Since then, CW8 Aggieland has seen a steady increase in both viewership and revenue.

He has turned CW8 into a place for local viewers to find local content, including replays of Texas A&M football, the SEC Game of the Week and local high school football games which start airing this fall, something not already available in the DMA.

Just recently, KBTX-TV was awarded 27 Texas Associated Press Awards, including the TAPB Award for Overall Excellence in Television.

The station also earned its first regional Edward R. Murrow award, Newscast of the Year from the Headliners Club of Austin and two Lone Star Emmys.

Giving Back

Wright continues to lead with four defining statements he developed for the staff to operate by each and every day:  “I trust KBTX.  KBTX does not waste my time. KBTX is easy to watch and easy to do business with.  KBTX cares about the community and about my family.”

Wright has led by example regarding each of these defining statements. Above all, he understands that community involvement is vital to personal and professional growth.

One of the most significant ways KBTX Media contributes to the community is through their annual “Food for Families” food drive.
It’s the largest fundraiser for the Brazos Valley Food Bank, raising 203,000 pounds of food and $175,000 in 2012 alone.

“Mike has a genuine interest in our community and consistently finds meaningful ways to use that interest to better the citizens here,” said Royce Hickman, President/CEO of the Brazos Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Wright encourages each employee at KBTX-TV to be involved in the community one way or another, be it serving on a board, being a member of a service organization, coaching a little league team or volunteering at the local food bank.

Wright also hosts a segment during First News at 4, known as the “Wright Response.”

Each week, he addresses viewers’ emails and comments regarding the station’s news coverage or other community issues. The questions and comments range from viewers thanking the news team for covering a certain topic, to viewers complaining about the outfit a news anchor wore on the 10 pm news. Regardless, Wright responds to them.

In fact, he responds to EVERY email or call he receives from a viewer, good or bad; he wants them to know that KBTX is listening and cares. He also encourages his staff to embrace the station’s initiatives and create unique relationships with viewers.

“Our radio stations have worked together [with KBTX] in a cooperative effort on many community projects. When we schedule a forum with local candidates, we assume Mike’s station will be there streaming the video on the KBTX website,” Downs said.
“Mike’s leadership shows his staff that competition stops when it comes to serving our community.”

While his position as general manager keeps him pretty busy, Wright also keeps his hand in radio…his first “true love.”

For the past 22 years, he has called the play-by-play for A&M Consolidated High School football, dedicating each Friday night to the team and their fans. 

This “hobby” has resulted in Wright receiving first place awards for his play-by-play from Texas AP off and on for eight years. His commitment to not only his broadcasting and management career, but also to his community and staff at KBTX-TV, is unmatched. Each day he strives to make the next day better for the staff, the community and the station.

Wright is a graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Bethany, have 12-year old twins, Macy and Mason.

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