George G. Beasley, who purchased WPYB-AM in Benson, N.C., in December 1961 and would go on to build what is today Beasley Media Group, died Wednesday morning at the age of 89.
“While best known for his many trailblazing achievements in the radio broadcasting industry, George will be most remembered for his humility, kindness, integrity, work-ethic and love of family and friends,” the Naples, Fla.-based company that recently expanded beyond radio and podcasting with investments in eSports said in a statement.
Mr. Beasley was born on April 9, 1932. He grew up working in the tobacco fields in his hometown of Ararat, Va., a tiny town to the north of Winston Salem, N.C.
“His drive and determination led him to enlist in the army to pursue a degree in Education through the G.I. Bill,” Beasley Media said.
Upon completing his B.A. and M.A. from Appalachian State University, he taught in Virginia before moving to North Carolina in the late 1950s to become a high school principal and coach.
His career then took a pivot into radio broadcasting, and ownership. Mr. Beasley built WPYB-AM in Benson from scratch.
It provided the spark for what today is a publicly traded company led by his daughter, CEO Caroline Beasley, comprised of 62 radio stations across 15 markets.
Mr. Beasley stepped back from his role as Chief Executive Officer in 2016. However, he continued to serve as Executive Chairman of the company’s Board of Directors.
An avid philanthropist, George served on the board of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters (NCAB) for eight years as President, Vice President and as a member of the Board of Directors. In 1996, he received the NCAB’s organization’s Distinguished Service Award and was inducted into NCAB’s Hall of Fame in 1998 upon accepting the prestigious “Distinguished Broadcaster of North Carolina” Award.
In November 2016, George Beasley was inducted to the 28th annual National Radio Hall of Fame. In 2019, he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
George Beasley received numerous awards and accolades throughout his life. In 2020, he was inducted into the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame and received the Broadcasters Foundation of America Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, George Beasley was recognized as a “Giant” by the Library of American Broadcasting in 2012. The Florida Association of Broadcasters named him “Broadcaster of the Year” in 2011 and the Country Radio Broadcasters presented him with the distinguished “Tom Rivers Humanitarian Award” in 2010. The Nevada Broadcasters Association also inducted George into the organization’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
In 1990 his alma mater, Appalachian State University, designated George Beasley as one of the institution’s Distinguished Alumni. “Among his proudest professional accomplishments was receiving an honorary doctorate and the unveiling of the George G. Beasley Media Complex on campus to provide future generations of students with the opportunity pursue their entrepreneurial dreams in broadcasting,” the company said.
In prepared remarks, Caroline Beasley said, “George’s unconditional love for our mother, Ann, and our family, along with his passion for the radio industry, helped to guide him throughout his lifetime. A loving father, mentor, and friend, I will especially miss his incredible wisdom, keen insight and gentle smile.”
NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith also offered his sympathies to all at Beasley Media and to the Beasley family.
“[The] NAB is deeply saddened by the passing of George Beasley,” Smith said. “George was a pioneer in broadcasting and a giant in his field, building Beasley into one of the premier radio station groups over the course of 60 years and serving the radio industry with distinction. We join with the entire broadcasting community in mourning our friend, and extend our thoughts and prayers to the Beasley family on their loss.”
A memorial service will take place for family and friends in Naples, Florida. Details will be forthcoming. A private burial service will be held for the family in Ararat, Virginia.
FROM THE ARCHIVES:
George Beasley is survived by his wife of 67 years Ann; five children; 16 grandchildren; and 12 great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the Beasley family requests donations be made in his name to The Broadcasters Foundation of America, 125 West 55th Street, 4th Floor New York, New York 10019. Online donations may also be made at www.broadcastersfoundation.org.