Friends and associates remembered Waco broadcaster and businessman M.N. “Buddy” Bostick, who died Wednesday at St. Catherine’s Center, as a pioneer for Central Texas broadcasting and a savvy businessman who balanced attention to costs with an eye to the future. He was 98.
Bostick founded KWTX-TV in 1955 and grew the station from a fledgling independent to an established market leader, adding stations in Bryan, Sherman and Lafayette, Louisiana, over the years before selling to Gray Television Group in 1999.
Bostick also was well-known in local banking, chartering American National Bank in 1982 with partner W.W. Callan and overseeing its growth to $370 million in assets by the time he stepped down as board chairman in 2012.
“I’m not sure people fully understood how far ahead of the curve Mr. Bostick was in terms of radio and television broadcasting,” said Mike Wright, vice president and CEO of KWTX-TV, in a statement late Wednesday. “It is an honor to be entrusted with the operation that Buddy regarded as one of his most prized possessions.”
Born in 1918 on a farm near Moody, Bostick attended Baylor University, graduating with a fine arts degree in 1939 and moving on to radio jobs in Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Dallas before World War II intervened. His Army Air Corps experience instilled a love for flying that lasted much of his life. After the war, he set up shop in Waco, where radio station KWTX went on the air in 1946.
Nine years later, Bostick saw an opportunity for a television station in Waco and convinced KWTX Broadcasting Co. shareholders to start one, even though radio rivals WACO and KANG, which had powerful Texas politician Lyndon Johnson behind its license, had the major networks locked up.
Undaunted, the scrappy Bostick worked out a deal in which KANG gave up its network affiliation for a share of KWTX ownership. He later added KBTX-TV in Bryan-College station, KXII-TV in Sherman and KLFY-TV in Lafayette, Louisiana, while starting radio stations KWTX-FM and Victoria’s KNAL.
Broadcasting trial live
Under Bostick, KWTX-TV became the first station to broadcast a trial live, the 1955 murder trial of Harry Washburn, and one of the first two Texas stations to use portable color videotape cameras in 1975.
KWTX made weather coverage a priority, becoming a local leader in weather radar, and its 1,600-foot broadcast tower in Moody was the tallest in the Southwest at the time.
Coupled with the then- new circular-polarized transmission, KWTX’s signal clarity and reach into Killeen and Temple made it a Central Texas fixture.
“He was an innovator and such a forward thinker,” former KWTX executive and son-in-law Ray Deaver said. Deaver was with KWTX-TV for 36 years before his retirement in 2001 as president and general manager.
Former KWTX, WFAA and Belo broadcaster Craig Harper credits Bostick with inspiring him to go into broadcasting, starting with allowing him permission to watch the station’s studio in action as a 9-year-old boy. Harper later worked for eight years as KWTX’s maintenance engineer and returned in 1997 after seven years with Dallas’ WFAA and Belo Broadcasting for a nine-month stint as KWTX vice president of operations.
“Mr. Bostick was still mentoring me at that time,” he said.
Bostick combined a sense of responsibility to viewers and shareholders with practical advice on running a business and managing personnel.
“Buddy was a wheeler-dealer. He knew what to do and when to do it,” said Harper, now a national manager with Sony Faith. “He used to tell me, ‘Be very proud of the fact that you’re called a broadcaster.’ . . . I was very fortunate Mr. Bostick took a liking to me and mentored me in a lot of ways.”
Bostick stepped down as KWTX Broadcasting board chairman in 1999 but continued to leave a mark in Waco banking circles, serving as American Bank’s board chairman for 30 years before his retirement in 2012. He oversaw American Bank’s iconic round building in Bellmead and then the construction of American Plaza, the bank’s current location and the home to Bostick and his wife, Virginia, for nearly 30 years.
American Bank President and CEO David Hicks remembered Bostick as one focused on process as well as result.
“As bank chairman, he was not a hands-on banker, but more a representative of the shareholders. He demanded strong processes, well-thought-out action plans and committees,” Hicks said. “Many of his oversight processes are still in place today. . . . He definitely was frugal but was usually agreeable when he thought the bankers had thought out something well. He evaluated your thought process. I learned that from him.”
Bostick will be buried in a private ceremony in Moody Cemetery.
His wife died in 2014. He is survived by his daughters, Ellen Deaver and Martha Phipps.
Grandchildren are Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver, John Deaver, Jenny Powers and J.B. Phipps. He also has six great-grandchildren. The family requests any memorials be made to a charity of one’s choosing.