This past weekend saw the passing of one of the great advocates for broadcasters in the last few decades – Ann Arnold, the President of the Texas Association of Broadcasters. Ann has headed the TAB for over 20 years, in the process making it one of the premier state broadcast associations. But Ann was more than just an association head – she also was a fierce defender of broadcasters and the service they provide to their listeners. Under her leadership, the TAB has fought against governmental attempts to over-regulate broadcasters, while also being very aggressive in promoting the role of broadcasters in getting important information out to their communities. Ann had been a nationwide leader in efforts to improve the EAS system, recognizing that broadcasters needed a working system to alert their audiences to impending threats. The TAB also was a leader in promoting a journalist shield law, helping broadcasters and other news outlets to protect vital sources.
I worked with Ann for over 20 years, and consider her to be a true friend – one who will be missed both personally and professionally. She was a central presence at all TAB events, right up to the most recent TAB annual convention held in August in Austin. Ann was there from the early morning breakfasts to the late-evening banquets, always surrounded by people seeking counsel or just a hug and a smile – which Ann could always be counted on to provide.
I can personally attest to the respect and admiration that Ann commanded among her members, and among government officials both in Texas and in Washington, DC. The TAB meetings have always been a must-visit stop on the itineraries of FCC Commissioners and staff, as well as the schedules of most broadcast industry leaders. Their annual convention rivals many of national events in terms of the number and quality of sessions and exhibitors.
Ann was journalist by training, served as the first female press secretary to a Texas governor. In more leisurely moments, she could be counted on to pass on fascinating stories about her life – from being active in the civil rights movement to her internship at the Washington Post at a time when women only wrote for the style section, not exactly Ann’s area of interest. Her leadership of the TAB for over 20 years, all the time while fighting cancer, was itself an unbelievable story. She was a giant in the industry.
More details about Ann’s life can be found on the TAB site here. Our thoughts are with her family and friends. She will be missed.