A Conversation With A Marconi Manager


Bryan broadcasting General Manager Ben Downs was named Legendary Manager of the Year during the 2021 NAB Marconi Awards on Wednesday. Radio Ink reached out to Downs to ask him all about his honor and why he think he captured the coveted Marconi.

Radio Ink: What did you first think when you heard you were going to be awarded the legendary manager Marconi?
Downs: I didn’t know until I heard Gordon reading my name. And when you see the other people on that nomination list, there’s no such thing as a guaranteed win. It’s a great honor and to have Senator Smith read my name during his last appearance on the NAB stage made it especially unique.

Radio Ink: What goes into being a great manager, one who is recognized like this?
Downs: In my case legendary also means old. I’ve got over 50 years in the biz and 40 years in management. But I still have the muscle memory needed to thread an Ampex reel-to-reel. And maybe even a Revox reel.

Radio Ink: What do you think this means for the work you’ve put in over the years?
Downs: I considered it unlucky to read the nomination before the results were announced. Fortunately all the things that were said were true, but especially the last line that our PD included where she said, “He’s not getting any younger, so you need to award this to him soon.”

Radio Ink: What would you say is your biggest success over the years?
Downs: There have been a lot of ups and downs in the economy in the past decades but nothing like 2020 and its evil twin 2021. We were able to keep everybody employed and still step up our game to keep our community informed about closings, vaccination hubs, who had shots and who was out, and still run free ads to help boost business locally. I guess my proudest moment was when we saw that the local Hispanic community wasn’t getting the word and we started translating our WTAW news into Spanish for our area. It made a big difference in getting the word out to an unserved group.

Radio Ink: What would your employees say about you if they were all in a room together discussing your management style?
Downs: If my people were in the room, and right now they are, they would congratulate me for hanging in there for this long and still working for our company and the industry as well. NAB, Texas Broadcasters, NABPAC and making sure Bryan Broadcasting can still pay the bills is how I spend my time. And the new knee I got the day COVID closed the hospital helps a lot.

Reach out to Ben to congratulate him on being named the 2021 Marconi Manager of the Year at [email protected]


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