- Hilliard Gates
Hilliard Gates (
December 14, 1915- November 21, 1996) was a founding father of Indianabroadcasting and the leading sportscaster in Indiana for decades.
Born Hilliard Gates Gudelsky, Hilliard used his middle name, Gates, as he enetered broadcasting. Gates began his career with
WOWOradio, at that time a 50,000-watt clear channelradio station in Fort Wayne, Indianain 1940. He supervised the construction of WKJG radio which went on the air in November, 1947. He put WKJG-FM on the air in June, 1948. and in November 1953, was the first person to appear live on Fort Wayne television when he signed WKJG-TV onto the air. His segment "Gatesway to Sports" was very popular with Fort Wayne viewers.
Gates was highly respected as a sports announcer well outside the northern Indiana. When tiny
Milan High Schoolwon the state basketball championship at Butler University's Hinkle Fieldhousein 1954, Hilliard Gates was at the microphone - and his delivery was so powerful and distinctive that he was also used as the announcer in the 1986 movie, " Hoosiers", a fictionalized story based on the Milan team's accomplishments.
Hilliard was the announcer who first introduced many sports to Fort Wayne television. He appeared on more network broadcasts than any other announcer in Indiana history, and in 1967 and 1968, he broadcast the Rose Bowl in
Pasadena, Californiafor NBCradio. Hilliard was named Indiana Sportscaster of the Year seven times and was nominated for the honor 20 consecutive years. He was the first broadcaster to be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame(1969). In 1977, the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association cited him for his long contribution to Indiana basketball.
During his tenure as vice-president and general manager of WKJG-TV, the station was proud of having hired many talented beginners who eventually moved on to larger markets and bigger paychecks. However, this was probably a consequence of their low budgets. For years, WKJG's news broadcasts were assured good ratings simply on the basis of their sports coverage. In the 1980s, competitors fought aggressively for the news viewer with upgraded sets, larger staffs, personable newscasters, and enhanced production graphics, with
WPTA, youngest of the three major network affiliates, highest in the ratings.
Gates retired as vice president and general manager of WKJG-TV in 1990 and served as a consultant to the station until May 1993 before his death 1996. After Gates' death, WKJG-TV fared even more poorly. New station management attempted a facelift, even changing the call letters to
WISE-TV, but without much success.
Community leadership and honors
Gates held office in many community and state organizations. He was on the original
Jayceescommittee that got the Allen County War Memorial Coliseumbuilt in 1951. He was twice elected president of the Fort Wayne Press Club.
Roger D. Braniginnamed Gates a Sagamore of the Wabash.
*Fort Wayne Sports Corporation annually awards the Hilliard Gates Achievement Award for contributions to athletics in Fort Wayne.
*Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) named its on-campus sports arena the
Hilliard Gates Sports Centerin his honor.
* [http://www.hoopshall.com/inductees/1969/gates.html Hoops Hall of Fame Bio]
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