Dawson "Tack" Nail dead at 82


It seems everyone in broadcasting, and particularly in the broadcasting trade press, knew Tack Nail. And certainly every FCC commissioner since the 1950s knew him – and some feared him. The dean of the Washington communications press corps died Friday (3/25) at age 82.

Tack never actually retired, but kept writing for Warren Communications, publisher of Communications Daily, right to the end. They had hired him away from Broadcasting magazine (now Broadcasting & Cable) in 1964.

Warren Communications reported that Nail died after being injured in a fall.

According to Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU), which named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 1980, Nail’s nickname had been “Tack” since his childhood days at the Masonic Home orphanage in Guthrie. He graduated from SWOSU in 1950 and got a masters degree from Oklahoma State in 1955, whereupon he headed to Washington, DC for a job at the rewrite desk of Broadcasting. The rest is history.

“Tack was a great friend who mentored many a journalist, protected many a source, and provided us all with plenty of laughs through the years. We grieve for his family, while we celebrate the life of a reporter whose decency, integrity and simple kindness were unmatched,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton.

“Cable joins in mourning the loss of ‘Tack’ Nail. Tack was first and foremost a journalist – ferreting out information to keep us all honest – but he often freely shared with his sources wise counsel honed by years on the beat and tempered by a good heart. Tack’s role as a mentor for young or new telecom reporters was unrivaled in Washington, and his Puckish good humor and fun-loving attitude could be uplifting even in difficult or awkward situations. As a writer and editor, Tack set a high bar for trade and business journalism, and his legacy in that regard will live on. We offer sincere condolences to Tack’s family, his many close friends, and his longtime employer, Warren Publishing, which he helped put on the map with his reporting, professionalism, and presence,” said Rob Stoddard, Senior Vice President, Communications & Public Affairs, National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

A memorial service for Dawson “Tack” Nail will be at 6:30 pm Thursday, March 31, at the National Press Club,  529 14th St. NW, Washington.  Burial at Arlington National Cemetery will occur later this year. 

RBR-TVBR observation:
Tack was already the veteran of veterans among the broadcasting trade press when we came on the scene. Heck, he’d been there when we were learning to walk. Even so, he welcomed us as a colleague and new friend, just as he did every new reporter. He was a true gentleman. Oh, and he was also quite a cut-up. Tack made an impression on everyone and we are not alone in saying that we will never forget him.