2011 Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year
Mike Wenglar, KVUE-TV Austin
TAB’s Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year sets the standard in Texas for working unselfishly and tirelessly toward the betterment of the broadcast industry and has earned the unwavering respect and admiration of his peers.
And this year’s award winner wears a lot of hats.
Mike Wenglar…Engineer…Manager…Station Owner…Volunteer.
Like many broadcasters, Wenglar’s interest in all things electronic and the world of broadcasting began early in his life. He was born and raised in El Campo and during his sophomore year of high school he began working at KULP-AM 1390 doing a show called “Mike’s Corner.”
Later, he renamed it “The Mikey Wikey Show,” complete with custom jingles.
In addition to his duties at KULP, he worked part-time as a police officer and crime/accident scene photographer for the El Campo Police Department.
After high school he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Biloxi, Miss. He continued to do his radio show via tape until he was sent to a base in Germany.
After leaving the Air Force, Wenglar returned to El Campo and began working with his father’s plumbing business.
A friend told him about a new television station coming to Austin.
He applied as an engineer/technician at KVUE-TV (even though it would pay less than his plumbing job) and in 1971, he helped sign the station on the air.
In less than a year, he was named chief engineer, a position he held until being named vice president/chief engineer in 1989.
In 1993, Gannett Broadcasting awarded him with their most prestigious engineering award for his outstanding contributions to KVUE-TV’s success.
Wenglar has seen many changes throughout the years, but he thinks the most important is how television is evolving into more of a media presence with web streaming and social media.
These new technologies will change how business is done in television with all the resources needed to manage these new aspects of the industry.
The future of television will be affected by broadband and spectrum issues but he strongly believes that “over-the-air broadcasting should be free. It is the American way.”
In 2000, he had the opportunity to purchase KULP, his hometown radio station.
His goal was to keep it the same as he remembered it. The station still features the popular polka-time and swap-shop shows, two staples of small town radio. He has a great point person, Stephen Zetsche, to handle the day-to-day business of the station.
In 2006, KVUE-TV honored Wenglar with an award for 35 years of outstanding work.
“Throughout his 35 years of service he has been instrumental in creating and maintaining one of the most respected television stations in the state of Texas. I affectionately call him ‘the backbone’ of KVUE-TV,” said Patti C. Smith, president and general manager.
“He treats the station as if it were his home away from home...with great respect and love. This attitude is reflected in his work and all of the staff and viewers of KVUE-TV are better for having Mike Wenglar’s service and dedication over these many years.”
Wenglar is convinced that KVUE-TV is the best run station in Austin.
“They have always had good management and good people. They trust me to do what is right for the station.”
Tireless volunteer for TAB
Wenglar’s insight is trusted far beyond the confines of the KVUE-TV studios.
Since the FCC adopted the Emergency Alert System in 1996, he has been an integral part of TAB’s efforts to make the system work as well as possible in Texas, despite considerable resistance from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
He also advised TAB in the planning and construction of its new home, finished in 1999, and is routinely called upon to help study the potential effect of legislation on broadcast operations.
Reflecting his wide range of interests and passions, Wenglar has served as TAB’s “official photographer” since 1992.
In 1999, TAB awarded Wenglar with a Special President’s Award for his tireless dedication and volunteer efforts.
For nearly 20 years, Wenglar has led the planning efforts for the engineering sessions at the TAB Convention. In 1996, he originated the “Chief Engineer” section of the TABulletin and has contributed to the newsletter on a variety of technical issues.
For the past three years, he has represented TAB’s pioneer/retired members on the TAB Board of Directors.
Giving back to the community
Wenglar has been involved with Austin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired since 1989 assisting them with their reading service. He is happy to provide pro-bono technical service to the organization because he is inspired by those he serves.
He is a lifetime member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers as well as many other organizations including the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers, the American Radio Relay League and holds a General Class Amateur Radio License.
He has no plans to retire and is looking forward to working in broadcasting for many years to come.