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Dick Dudley Dies

Was former NAB Radio Board Chair, TV station owner

Richard David “Dickie” Dudley has died at 89, according to WSAW(TV), Wausau, Wis. He was one of the television station’s founders and also chaired the NAB Radio Board from 1967 to 1969.

Dudley was a recipient of the NAB’s Grover C. Cobb award, presented to him in recognition of his contributions to broadcasting and government. He also had a stint as president of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association from 1977 to 1978 and served on its board and held other offices for the WBA for 15 years. He was inducted into the WBA/WBA Foundation Hall of Fame in 1989. A video can be found here.

WBA President Michelle Vetterkind and the association issued a release, in part saying, “The broadcast community is deeply saddened by the death of Mr. Richard D. Dudley. Dick Dudley was one of Wausau’s most well-known philanthropists. As president, he built WSAU radio and television [now WSAW] into a major national firm, Forward Communications Corp. … Mr. Dudley built a great legacy.”

In 1947, the World War II vet began his broadcasting career in sales at WSAU(AM), Wausau, Wis. He became general manager by age 27, according to the account. Dudley grew the company that owned WSAU, helping it to become part of Forward Communications Corp., which owned radio, television and newspaper properties in Wausau, Wis.; Madison, Wis.; Marshfield, Wis.; Kaukauna, Wis.; Sioux City, Iowa; Waterloo, Iowa; Peoria, Ill.; Wheeling, W.V.; Odessa, Texas; Great Bend, Kansas; Tallahassee, Fla., and Moorhead, Minn.

Dudley eventually rose to become president of Forward in 1963 and chairman and chief executive in 1981, according to WSAU. Forward was sold to venture capital group Wesray in 1981. Dudley continued as an owner and operated the company as president and chief executive. Forward was sold to Adams Communications in 1988.

Dick Dudley and his brother Bob formed Dudley Communications Corp. and Dudley Broadcasting Management to own and operate television stations in 1989. They sold that company to Tribune in 1988.

In 2001, the Broadcasters’ Foundation awarded Dudley the American Broadcast Pioneer Award for his contributions to the industry.