This article has been updated.
Radio and television station owner Russ Withers has passed away at the age of 76.
He died at the home of his daughter Dana Withers following a long illness, according to the Mt. Vernon, Ill. Register-News.
Visitation is today from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Hughey Funeral Home in Mt. Vernon and services are there tomorrow at 10 a.m.
Withers owned Withers Broadcasting Companies, which includes six television stations and 30 radio stations in seven states. The Illinois Broadcasting Association also named him Broadcaster of the Year in 2005.
Withers is a former NAB Radio Board chairman; his daughter Dana, who’s also a station owner, is on the board now.
NAB EVP Communications Dennis Wharton calls Russ Withers “a true original.”
Withers, says Wharton, “was a stalwart in defense of local broadcasting, colorful with a quote, and comfortable in the halls of Congress and at the FCC advocating on NAB’s behalf.”
For many years, Russ was recognized by NAB for being the individual broadcaster who helped raise the most money for the NAB Political Action Committee, according to Wharton, who adds that Withers was friends with the late Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.
UPDATE: Withers also owned TV and radio stations in West Virginia. According to this obituary from one of those stations, WDTV(TV), he was once named Broadcaster of the Year by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.