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Friends, broadcasters remember Ann Arnold

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Ann Arnold WAS the Texas Association of Broadcasters.  Taking over after Bonner McLane passed, she took the organization to higher levels than any could have expected.  She can't be replaced so hopefully the next President will take us beyond the lofty goals set by Ann Arnold.  What a wonderful person. - Bob White, 1980 TAB Chairman

I offer condolences to Ann Arnold's family and friends.  She and I shared the same name.  We  talked on the phone about meeting each other in the future but we never had the chance. - Ann Arnold, General Manager of KGGR Radio 1040AM Dallas

My introduction to becoming involved with Texas politics was due to Ann Arnold.  Until my first election to the TAB Board of Directors in the mid-1980s, I had not been very active in politics, nor done any lobbying on behalf of our industry.  Ann’s knowledge and ease in moving around the Texas Capitol was both exciting and inspirational.  In later years, when she invited me to attend the NAB’s State Leadership Conference in Washington, it became quickly apparent that she was just as comfortable in DC as she was in Austin.  Her invitation to me to run for our Board of Directors, and later, to join the Executive Board, has rewarded in me in more ways than I could ever list.  She was a dear friend to me and to all Texas broadcasters.  She will be missed. - Mike Lee, KXXV-TV Waco-Temple-Bryan

No words can say how sorry I feel to see the passing of this Great Lady and Friend! My prayers will be for her and the family! - Gil Garcia, Clear Channel

When you get news like Ann’s passing, unexpected, unguarded thoughts flash through your head.  When I heard that Ann had died in her sleep, I thought “This has to be wrong; this is too easy.  Ann Arnold wouldn’t die in her sleep.”

Having known the healthy Ann and the sick Ann, I had a template in my mind that her passing would involve heroic measures by physicians and by Ann.  Relapses and Recoveries for months or years.  It just seemed to fit how Ann had been fighting this leukemia.  To die in her sleep was a blessing and a gift. 

Any struggle with a life-threatening disease means good days and bad days. But Ann left us when she was still relevant and people would take her calls.   Today, people remember the Ann Arnold that IS; ten years from now, we will talk about the Ann Arnold that once was.   For a person like Ann to leave while still influencing the conversation, that’s a gift; to depart just after you go over the top of the hill, not at the end of the run.

The irony of Ann’s career is that most weekend broadcast staff have logged more on-air time than Ann.  And yet, Ann Arnold was the voice and power of Texas Broadcasting.  She grew to love the business and came to appreciate our service to our communities.  She encouraged that and designed TAB recognition built around the service broadcasters provide.

She taught me so many things about how power is used in politics.  When I was new to the TAB, I had trouble getting past the trappings of elected office.  Ann taught me that what we needed to say must be heard by elected officials.  Since they were elected, they probably needed to hear it even more.  “He won’t take your call?  Well, let’s just go sit in his office till he talks to us.”  And off we would go. When a West Texas Congressman wouldn’t meet with us, Ann understood it’s not personal; you bide your time because someday, sometime, he will need something broadcasters can offer.

Fighting a series of EAS stonewalls with Ann gave me a close-up look at how her mind worked.  She once called me to ask, “Will we ever convince people to do this?”  One time, I gave up and said ‘no’.  Ann agreed and I thought that was the end of that.  But, that would be too easy for Ann Arnold.  She came back and kept pushing at every meeting, every time.  Even knowing it was a Sisyphean task, she believed the answer she wanted was coming, but it would just take a little  longer.  She also knew that leaving ‘no’ as a final answer meant she would never get what she wanted.

She’s been so sick the past few years, I worried the leukemia would find an opportunity to strike her fatigued body.  And she was beginning to pace herself and pull back from the day-to-day.  But Ann saw no difference between a fight for her life and a fight for broadcasters.  They were both the highest calling she could imagine. To the last, Ann grappled with her illness.  She never gave up.  She passed quietly and gently from this world to the next.  Most of us would think that’s a gift, but I know Ann would have chosen to keep fighting; otherwise she knew the answer never changes. - Ben Downs, Bryan Broadcasting

I was so sorry to learn of Ann’s passing, but not surprised to hear that she was in her office when she left us.  She was a remarkable woman who made an indelible contribution to the broadcasting industry in Texas and across the country. - Mac Tichenor, 2001 TAB Broadcaster of the Year

My fondest memory of Ann is during many legislative sessions.  The phone would ring at my home at some obscene late night hour.  There would be Ann – asking me to make a call to a lawmaker to gain support for, or oppose a particular bill.  She constantly fought for Texas broadcasters. Ann never took a day off.  Due to illness, she may not have been at her desk every day in her declining years, but her love for Texas broadcasters kept her fire burning, her mind razor-sharp and we are all the better for it. - Kevin Lovell, KVIA-TV El Paso

"TAB was the best state industry organization in the country”- those were the words I specifically remember hearing on multiple occasions when I first arrived in Austin six years ago. Ann Arnold clearly was the reason for this reality and I quickly discovered this truth when interacting with TAB over the years. My heartfelt sympathies to Ann’s family and the TAB staff. Ann was a champion of our industry and our state. It was my pleasure to know her and work with her. - Eric Lassberg, KXAN-TV Austin

Ann was savvy. She was tough and ambitious without being pushy. She had a vision for what TAB should do, what it should look like and where it should live. The TAB headquarters became a reality through the work of many but it is a monument above all to Ann and her tireless effort to make the building a reality. What other state organization can match this facility? None.

I can remember walking different sites with her as we scouted out the perfect location for TAB's new home and she had an instinct about what would work and what would be right for our members. She leaves TAB in fabulous condition in all ways but one--there will be others to carry on her work but no one to replace her. We have lost the spirit of a courageous, inspirational woman. Miss you already Ann. - Chip Babcock, Jackson Walker LLP

Ann was one of a kind wonderful. She was the bright unassuming star for us for many years. I'll always remember her courage and be grateful for her friendship. Please let me know if you need help. - Ron Rogers, 1983 TAB Chairman

The strength of Texas Broadcasting today is a testament to Ann's leadership and commitment to our industry.  We have been blessed to have known her.  She and all TAB staff are in our prayers. - Ted Wrenn, Texas Pioneer Broadcaster

How sad to see Ann struck down in the prime of her life. She was a wonderful advocate for our industry, not only statewide but nationwide. She will be sorely missed...we can take comfort in knowing she is in a better place. - Jack Sellmeyer, Sellmeyer Engineering

Oscar said it best when he said Heaven is a lot busier now.  It takes a few minutes for all Ann has done to really sink in.  Not just what she has done, but how she did it.  She simply could not be out worked and had so much love and passion for broadcasters that it simply is beyond measure. - Mark Masepohl, Univision Radio Houston

I was saddened to hear of Ann's passing. Her time at TAB began almost the same time as I started teaching at UT, and she was associated in my mind with everything that is TAB. - Augie Grant, Focus25 Research and Consulting

I'm so sorry to hear about Ann's passing. - Teresa Moreno, Austin

Beyond Ann's position as Texas EAS Chair, she was truely one of the most dedicated champions of EAS in the country, and she will be missed in our EAS community. I am glad she was blessed to be able to work on her life's passions until her last day.  What a lady! - Gary Timm, Wisconsin EAS Chair

With 22 years on the TAB board I have strong and lasting memories of Ann and what she has meant, not just to the members of the Texas Association of Broadcasters, but her impact on those who owned and operated every licensed radio and TV station in Texas.  She has also made no small impact on the industry nationwide. Among my strongest memories was that time late in - I think 1986 - when the TAB board was mourning the sudden loss of our previous director, Bonner McLane. After his funeral in Austin we had an emergency meeting in a conference room at the airport. We were faced with a challenging legislative session beginning in only days.

As I recall, now 25 years later, John Barger said there were two possible approaches. Maybe we could find an experienced broadcaster, but most likely, from those available for the job, he or she would have little experience dealing with the legislature, in what was shaping into a challenging session. The other option was someone experienced with the legislature, and its members, who could learn broadcasting "on the fly."  Given those choices, with the timing of Bonner's death,  Barger felt it was best to go with someone experienced with the legislature. Then he told us about Ann Arnold, her track record and experience on Gov. Mark White's staff.  She already had the respect of Texas decision makers and a record of getting the job done. His presentation was persuasive. I rushed to second his recommendation. History will long note Ann was the right choice.

Even when illness challenged her and at the same time she had other challenges in her life I am convinced she never lost her focus for the broadcasters of Texas. She did it well, and assembled a staff second to none.  Oscar Rodriquez brilliantly took every step with her. Then, of course, there were those amazing people who soon followed on the TAB team. I am as unashamedly an Ann Arnold fan now after her passing as I was during her life.  I hope we can find an appropriate way, in which the broadcasters of Texas can permanently mark her service. My sympathies to her family, her staff, and to the broadcasters of Texas who have lost so much. So long Ann and thanks. - Bill Buchanan, KSHN Liberty

Sorry to hear of Ann’s passing.  She was a great lady and a tireless champion for broadcasters in our state.   She will be missed. - Pete Dits, ESPN Dallas-Fort Worth