Dr. W.E. Vanatta Receives Lifetime Membership Award from TAB

May 4, 2008
by: 
Dwayne Page

The founder of WJLE has been honored by the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters.

Dr. W.E. Vanatta, who was owner of the station for almost 44 years, received the association's Lifetime Membership Award during the TAB's 60th Anniversary Gala held Friday and Saturday at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville.

Dr. Vanatta, was one of three individuals, who received the award Saturday night.

The Lifetime Membership Award goes to distinguished broadcasters who have committed to a lifetime of learning, observing, and growing with the industry. This award honors their lasting contributions as part of the industry. They are respected by their peers for their values, relationships, priorities, and vision.

Doug Combs, TAB Director at Large and owner of WBRY in Woodbury, presented the award. In his remarks, Combs summarized some of Dr. Vanatta's achievements. "Small town broadcasters are concerned about their community and they do whatever needs to be done. This honoree certainly has done that. In 1964 he gathered a group of individuals together because he felt his community needed a radio station. His livelihood was pretty much guaranteed. He was a chiropractor but still he knew the community needed more. He brought these folks together and soon, shortly thereafter, a construction permit was issued. DeKalb County has been very fortunate since then to have a true community radio station."

"His marketing philosophies are very basic but they ring so true. One of his slogans is ‘You Tell Us, We'll Tell Thousands' and that's what they do everyday with the stations and with their website. He thinks that people need to be connected with their government. Years before we had C-Span, he connected the people of DeKalb County with their government because WJLE will broadcast the city council meetings, the board of education meetings, and the county commission meetings. And when the world came to Smithville for the Fiddler's Jamboree, our honoree knew that maybe some of the local folks might not feel comfortable down on the square so they started broadcasting the Fiddler's Jamboree."

" In the last couple of years they've held radiothons assisting Habitat for Humanity, raising funds to build homes. They had a radiothon in 1997 to raise money for the development of a children's playground in Smithville. And he knew that folks, even when they were away from home, still wanted to know what was going in the community, so he met the challenges by streaming the LIVE local events on the Internet like the ballgames and the newcasts so that folks could stay in tune."

" One of my favorite sayings is the one that he lived by at the station. He said ‘this is how you run your station. You stay on the air. You stay in the black. You report the news. Don't BE the news. And never get scooped by the weekly newspaper."

Members of Dr. Vanatta's family attended the awards ceremony with him including his wife, daughters and sons-in-law, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

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