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KBTX Develops Towering Presence in 80s

By: Joe Brown Email
By: Joe Brown Email

For KBTX, the 80's were all about people and power. Or, should we say, people and tower.

"The single most transforming event for that whole decade was the construction of the new tower at Carlos," said former KBTX General Manager Ulman McMullen.

When the switch was flipped on October 13, 1983, KBTX-TV went from a Brazos County presence to a Brazos Valley powerhouse.

However, according to McMullen, that was just the beginning.

"The 80s was, for the industry and therefore for Channel 3, really the decade of technology change," he said.

Andy Richardson, who was a KBTX photojournalist from 1985-1990, agrees. "The 80's brought about the widespread use of video tape and Channel 3 was no different," he said. "We started getting video cameras with video we could edit stories quicker, you could get them on the news quicker for six and ten and it really transformed how fast we could get stories on the air."

Now in charge of Texas A&M Athletics Big Screens, Richardson was like many KBTX alumni who went on to do big things in television, or in Andy's case, big things with big televisions.

"I look at the people I worked with then and now they are vice presidents of television networks in New York, running sports networks, and in high end production and TV environments all over the country," Richardson said.

While the names and faces changed often at Channel 3 in the 1980's, some of the industry's most talented broadcasters have KBTX somewhere on their resumes.

"You know we were blessed with a lot of good talent through the years," said McMullen. "Of course A&M supplied us with an awful lot of good young people and many of them did go on to larger markets, larger stations."

Others made their mark at Channel 3, then went in a different direction. For ten years, Joe Walker hosted a popular local issues program called "Forum." After he left in 1985, Joe went on to own and operate other radio stations and now pastors a church, but he still has fond memories of his days at Channel 3.

"A lot of the things that the station did was family oriented, promoted family values," Walker remembers, "and I thought that was really great because some of the things I learned while working here at KBTX I carried it on."

In fact "family" is a work used often to describe KBTX in the 80's. And in other decade as well.

"I think that that feeling's sort of was pervasive in Channel 3 was people and a sense of family that that's what I hear so much from people that have gone through there that it truly was a family away from home," McMullen said.

Those sentiments are echoed by Richardson. "The people are what make the station great," he said, "and it's continued to be a place that develops great talent and encourages people to dream bigger than what they thought was possible."


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