Arnold took charge of TAB in 1987 after a first career as a wire service and newspaper reporter and as the first female press secretary to a Texas governor. “She was fearless in her advocacy for local radio and television broadcasters, for the public’s right to know how elected officials run our government, and in her long fight with cancer,” says TAB Chairman Mary Mike Hatcher. Arnold was 67.
Ann Arnold, longtime president of the Texas Association of Broadcasters, passed away Saturday (Sept. 1). She was 67.
During her 50-year professional career, she was also a UPI and newspaper reporter and the first female press secretary to a Texas governor.
“Ann Arnold was an extraordinary and inspiring woman,” said TAB Chairman Mary Mike Hatcher of Bryan Broadcasting.
“She was fearless in her advocacy for local radio and television broadcasters, for the public’s right to know how elected officials run our government, and in her long fight with cancer,” she said. “Texas is a better place because of her.”
Beverly Ann Watson was born April 6, 1945, in Jackson, Miss.
Upon graduating from the University of Texas in 1968, Arnold joined UPI’s Austin bureau.
While working for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1980, she accepted an invitation from Gov.-Elect Mark White to become his press secretary — the first woman to hold the post.
After White left office, Arnold was diagnosed with leukemia. She joined an experimental treatment program at UT’s M.D. Anderson facilities in Houston and lived more than 20 years with the disease.
In 1987, she was asked by a group of radio and TV station owners and operators to head up the Texas Association of Broadcasters, taking over for Executive Director Bonner McLane, who had died suddenly.
According to TAB, Arnold worked for open government in Texas, an effort that was recognized in 2001 when the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas presented her with its James Madison Award.
She was also an advocate for enhancing the Emergency Alert System and laid the groundwork for the successful effort to pass a Free Flow of Information Act in Texas.
During her tenure at TAB, Arnold doubled station membership, expanded an array of member services for stations and recruited top professional staff.
She oversaw the creation of TAB’s permanent home just blocks from the State Capitol which the association has occupied since 1999.
Arnold also grew the Texas Broadcast Education Foundation’s endowment and organized successful fundraisers to create scholarships honoring Lady Bird Johnson, Wendell Mayes, Vann Kennedy and Tom Reiff.
She served as president of the National Alliance of State Broadcast Associations in 2005.
Texas broadcasters honored her for legacy of work on their behalf by presenting Arnold TAB’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
“Ann was passionate about Texas and optimistic about the future,” said TAB VP Oscar Rodriguez.
“She cherished the opportunity to help local broadcasters strengthen their communities and had yet to find the challenge that would daunt her,” he said. “The broadcast industry and local communities throughout Texas will long benefit from her dedication and passion.”
She is survived by her son and his wife, Merle and Julie Arnold of Fort Washington, Md., another son, Jonathan Arnold of Austin, and sister Sue March of Friendswood, Texas.
Memorial information is pending.