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2024 MAB Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Thomas J Bender web

Tom Bender

Senior Vice President (Retired) - Greater Media, Inc.

Tom Bender’s radio career began at then-WXYZ-FM, producing and hosting public service programs for the Metropolitan Detroit Council of Churches.   As a young seminary student, he was interested in reaching the baby boom generation, then in the middle of the counter culture.

As WXYZ-FM grew into WRIF, Tom was on the air for public service and public affairs programming which was then required by the FCC for all radio stations.

He became Program Director of WRIF in 1976 and guided the station in the rock battles with W4, WABX and WLLZ.  In that process, WRIF developed a legendary staff of air personalities, anchored by Arthur Penhallow, Ken Calvert, and JJ and the Morning Crew.

After stints with the RKO Radio Network in New York, and Belo Broadcasting in Dallas/Fort Worth and Denver, Tom returned to Detroit and became the General Manager of then-WMJC, moving from programming to station management.  In March of 1987, 94.7 became WCSX, Detroit’s Classic Rock Station and remains so today.

With the change in ownership rules, Greater Media acquired WRIF and created one of Detroit’s first “duopolies,” or station clusters as they are known today.  After negotiating between two rival staffs in the new expanded family, Greater Media added 105.1, WQRS to the Detroit cluster.   The frequency became Magic 105.1 with the addition of morning host Jim Harper.

After 21 years in Detroit station management, in 2008 Tom was appointed Vice President of Interactive Media for all 21 Greater Media stations.  He collaborated with local personnel to implement website, mobile, online audio, data collection and social media systems and strategies.  With a-learn-by-doing approach, Greater Media was able to prioritize digital initiatives that worked for both the on-air station and the creation of digital revenue.

Tom was named Market Manager of the Year by Radio Ink in 2006 and was inducted into the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2007. He retired from Greater Media in 2016, coincident with the sale of the company to Beasley Media, Inc.

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