Wayne Martin had no second thoughts after announcing his retirement from television recently.
“The time is right,” Martin said.
Martin has spent the past 25 years in broadcasting and has been president and general manager of WKYT Channel 27 since 1993. Previously, he was the station’s vice president and general sales manager. Martin also is regional vice president for Gray Television, Inc., which also owns WYMT-TV¿in Hazard, WBKO-TV in Bowling Green and WVLT-TV in Knoxville, Tenn.
“I felt like it was time and I’m looking forward to hopefully 20 more healthy years to do some of the things that I like to do more often,” he said.
One of those chores is watching basketball practices at the Transylvania, Morehead State, University of Kentucky and at George Rogers Clark High School. He also plans to add golf into the mix when time permits. He will spend the next year as a consultant for Gray Television following his retirement on Jan. 1.
“For an ex-coach, I look forward to that more so than attending games,” he said. “Most people practice at three in the afternoon and that’s something that I’ve missed in the last 25 years and I’ll do that. All of our family plays golf and so that’s going to be an opportunity to do something with family and do that more often. I’ll continue to serve on three cooperate boards that I’m now serving on. I will continue to serve on two volunteer boards.”
During his tenure, Martin increased local news programming to 42 hours, putting an added emphasis on the 40-county coverage area, based mainly in central Kentucky. He prides the station’s ability to help make a difference beyond the television screen.
“We’ve certainly grown in the number of news hours that we produce,” he said. “I am a byproduct of that, but I have been in the leadership position as we’ve done that. The things I’m most proud of in the last 25 years in broadcaster are the things that we’ve been able to do in the community in the areas we serve a better place to live — inform people, entertain people and we’ve been able to have a positive impact in a lot of communities. I’m very proud of that.”
Martin added that the station’s top priority under his direction has been to “serve the viewers and the advertisers.”
“Every staff meeting that we have, and we have them regularily, I tell (the employees) that our viewers and advertisers are our bosses,” he said. “Without them, none of us have work to do. I think we’ve been responsive to both. Our job is to inform, entertain, make our viewers think and help our advertisers make money. It’s really a simple philosophy, I think.”
Before entering the private sector, Martin served as men’s basketball coach at Morehead State University for nine seasons, guiding the Eagles to a pair of appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Prior to taking over at Morehead State, Martin, who has no desire to get back into the coaching profession, also served as coach and athletics director at Pikeville College and was an assistant coach at Oral Roberts University. He began his coaching career at Pikeville High¿School.
Martin said his previous experiences in coaching prepared him for the broadcasting field.
“My primary objective has been to recruit quality people, retain them,” he said. “In coaching you retained them for four years in those days. In broadcasting, you retain them for their careers possibly. You have to get them at the right place at the right time. I think that kind of experience in coaching was a transferable experience in broadcasting.”
Martin also has enjoyed a boom in the television industry during his tenure.
“From the time I started there have been constant changes,” he said. “We had some marvelous changes with high definition television, the viewing quality and I remember the tremendous excitement with the first color television show was Bonanza that I recall. We had three channels to choose from when I had the first opportunity to watch television and now we have thousands of choices. What it’s important for local television is just that — we had better stay local — that’s the only thing that separates us from those thousands of choices that people have to switch the knob.”
Martin has enjoyed a fun ride in both coaching and broadcasting and has made many friends in both professions.
“It’s fun, because in both of those career paths, I’ve been able to work with some people that are just wonderful,” he said. “I feel blessed because of people experiences I’ve had both with who I work with directly in a day-to-day basis and those I’ve been able to meet because of what I have been doing. It’s the people memories is what I will cherish. My dad always said that if you can count five really close friends on your hand you were very fortunate and I think I can count that many.”
Contact Keith Taylor at email@example.com.