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Texas broadcasters to honor four industry leaders

The Texas Association of Broadcasters will honor four broadcast leaders at TAB’s Annual Awards Gala.

The gala, part of the association’s 61st Annual Convention & Trade Show, is set for Thursday, Aug. 7 from 7-10 pm at the Renaissance Austin Hotel (9721 Arboretum Blvd., Austin, 78759).


Pioneer of the Year: Larry Safir, Entravision Rio Grande Valley (retired)

Larry Safir’s long and celebrated career in broadcasting spans more than 44 years.

He started his career in broadcasting at the age of 15, selling airtime for the nation’s first Spanish-language radio station – KCOR-AM San Antonio. His father Nathan served as TAB Chairman in 1975.

In 1992, the FCC awarded a CP for a TV station in McAllen to Safir and his partner Billy Goldberg.

They secured the Univision affiliation and KNVO-TV was on the air in the Rio Grande Valley – the nation’s ninth largest Hispanic market.

Entravision Communications bought the station four years later and Safir remained as executive vice president for the next 16 years.

At Entravision, he is credited with acquiring and simultaneously managing three TV and four radio stations – all under one roof.

He also developed and implemented the South Texas DMA’s first Spanish-language TV newscast, which quickly became the highest rated.

He also is credited for developing and executing the broadcast of both a Fox newscast at 9 pm in English and using the same staff for Spanish news on Univision at 10 pm. 

This has been critical in raising Hispanic awareness of pride, equality and confidence among young Latinos.

After 20 years, Safir retired from Entravision/KVNO to launch of the nation’s first Hispanic Health Network in association with the Doctor Hospital at Renaissance (the largest majority-owned, physician hospital populated primarily by Hispanics).

Broadcaster of the Year: Tom Ehlmann, KXAS-TV Dallas-Fort Worth

Tom Ehlmann’s long career in broadcasting has taken him to many stations including Tribune’s KHWB Houston and WGN-TV Chicago.

He has been president/general manager of NBC5 in Dallas-Fort Worth since 2008.

KXAS-TV was the first TV station in Texas, signing on in 1948.  

2013 saw the fruition of the station’s move from their previous home of 65 years.  In November 2013, KXAS-TV retired the original station and moved 18 miles to the center of Dallas-Fort Worth, into a newly constructed, state‐of‐the‐art building unlike any other TV station in the nation.

Building a station from scratch takes attention to detail, but moving in while staying on the air the entire time takes great planning and organizational skills.  There was no down time and the move was flawless, a testament to Ehlmann and the team he has assembled to lead KXAS-TV.

Ehlmann helped assemble an award-winning, investigative news team, in addition to creating Texas’ largest weather department.

Ehlmann has served several terms on the TAB Board and understands the concerns and interests of all broadcasters in the state.  He has made trips to Washington DC to lobby Texas representatives and always remains cognizant of his role to represent not only KXAS-TV, but all broadcasters, their employees and their communities.

George Marti Award for Engineering Excellence: Jack Sellmeyer, Sellmeyer Engineering

In 2014, TAB created the George Marti Award to recognize an individual’s excellence and innovation in broadcast engineering for Texas radio and television stations.

For more than 60 years, Jack Sellmeyer has been a model of professionalism and competency in the field of broadcast engineering, innovation, research and design.

Engineering colleagues say he “wrote the book” on many of the practices and procedures that they use on a daily basis.

He is one of the few engineers who’s had experience as a broadcast equipment manufacturer as well as a station engineer and now, a consulting engineer.

Beginning his broadcast career at the age of 15, Sellmeyer has worked for stations in New Mexico, Texas, California and Ohio.

He garnered three patents while working at Collins Radio in Dallas and is the co-inventor of the patented automatic modulation sensitivity control.

In 2009, the National Association of Broadcasters awarded him with their NAB Radio Engineering Achievement Award.

Sellmeyer currently runs his own consulting firm in McKinney.

His ability to make complex issues “easy” for GMs, owners and others has made him active in educational work at many industry technical seminars and workshops, especially in the area of AM directional antennas.

Educator of the Year: Sam Sauls, University of North Texas (retired)

Dr. Sam Sauls has been in the field of education for more than three decades.  He has combined his experience in commercial and noncommercial radio to help advance broadcasting by helping educate hundreds in the broadcast field.

He served as a lecturer, assistant professor and associate professor at the University of North Texas for more than 15 years before being named associate chair and director of graduate studies for UNT’s Department of Radio, Television and Film.

During that time, he also managed the campus radio station – KNTU-FM.

Sauls is a longstanding member and officer of the Texas Association of Broadcast Educators and the Broadcast Education Association.

Now retired, friends and colleagues still remark on his wit, humor and very approachable style which nurtured and encouraged hundreds of broadcasting students.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Beth Bobbitt or call (512) 322-9944.

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