George Beasley has died.
The founder and patriarch of Beasley Media Group was age 89 at his passing in Naples, Fla., today.
An announcement was issued by the company, which called him a “radio industry innovator, advocate, mentor and pioneer and community philanthropist” who led his company for 60 years.
He had stepped down as CEO in 2016 but continued as executive chairman of the company’s board.
A memorial service is planned in Florida; details will be announced later. His family will hold a private burial in his home town of Ararat, Va.
“In lieu of flowers, the Beasley family requests donations be made in his name to The Broadcasters Foundation of America, 125 West 55th Street, 4th Floor New York, New York 10019. Online donations may also be made at www.broadcastersfoundation.org.”
His daughter Caroline Beasley, now the company CEO, was quoted in the announcement, “George’s unconditional love for our mother, Ann and our family, along with his passion for the radio industry, helped to guide him throughout his lifetime. A loving father, mentor, and friend, I will especially miss his incredible wisdom, keen insight and gentle smile.”
George Beasley built his first station, 500-watt WPYB(AM), in Benson, N.C. while working as a high school assistant principal in 1961. The company now has 62 stations in 15 markets, digital platforms and an esports arm. Four of Beasley’s five children joined the company as employees: Bruce, Brian, Caroline and Brad Beasley. The company went public in 2000.
He told Radio World in 2015 that radio’s value proposition remained as solid as it was five decades earlier.
“I am proud to say that Beasley has been a pioneer in the adoption of technologies such as FM radio, which surpassed AM in the late 1970s; HD Radio and PPM in the ensuing decades; and streaming and mobile applications today. Each of these innovations enhanced the listener experience and strengthened the medium as a core buy for any brand or product seeking to reach consumers at large or consumers within distinct demographics.”
NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith issued a statement about his death: “George was a pioneer in broadcasting and a giant in his field, building Beasley into one of the premier radio station groups over the course of 60 years and serving the radio industry with distinction.”
Beasley was born in April 1932, “working in the tobacco fields in his hometown of Ararat, Virginia.”
He enlisted in the army to pursue a degree in education through the G.I. Bill. “Upon completing his B.A. and M.A. from Appalachian State University, he taught in Virginia, before moving to North Carolina in the late 50’s to become a high school principal and coach.” Even after starting his first station he only worked evenings and weekends in radio until 1969 before leaving education to focus on broadcasting.
Beasley receive the National Radio Award from the National Association of Broadcasters in 2015, and his daughter Caroline will receive it this fall.
He was a former president of the board of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and had been inducted into its Hall of Fame as well as those of the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters and Nevada Broadcasters Association.
He was also in the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame and received the Broadcasters Foundation of America Lifetime Achievement Award. The Library of American Broadcasting listed him as one of its “giants of broadcasting.” He received honors from the Florida Association of Broadcasters and Country Radio Broadcasters.
He remained close to his alma mater Appalachian State University, where he was a former chairman of the Appalachian State University Foundation Board of Directors as well as a member of the university board. A media complex on campus bears his name.
“The many challenges that George faced over the years, he did with humility, dignity and grace. A loving husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather, his legacy serves as a reminder that anything is possible with dedication, hard work and respect for one another,” the company stated. “George is survived by his wife of 67 years Ann, five children, 16 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.”