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Samuel Howard

Corporate executive Samuel Houston Howard was born on May 8, 1939 in Marietta, Oklahoma to Houston and Nellie Gaines Howard. Howard received his B.S. degree in business administration from Oklahoma State University in 1961, and his M.A. degree in economics from Stanford University in 1963.

From 1963 to 1967, Howard worked as a financial analyst with General Electric Company. In 1966 and 1967, he served as a White House Fellow and assistant to U.S. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg. From 1967 to 1968, Howard worked as director of educational computer services at Howard University and as a consultant to the U.S. Health, Education, and Welfare Department. He was then named vice president of finance, secretary and treasurer of TAW International Leasing Corporation, where he worked from 1968 until 1972. In 1972, he founded and served as chairman, president and CEO of Phoenix Holdings, Inc. and Phoenix Communications Group, Inc., which owned and operated broadcasting properties in Tennessee, Kansas and Mississippi.

Howard was hired as vice president of finance and business at Meharry Medical College in 1973. He then joined Hospital Affiliates International, Inc. as vice president of planning of the INA Health Care Group in 1977, and was promoted to vice president and treasurer in December of 1980. Howard was hired by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) as vice president and treasurer in 1981, and was promoted to senior vice president of public affairs in October of 1985. He resigned from HCA in 1988 in order to chair Phoenix Holdings, Inc. fulltime. In 1993, Howard became chairman, president and CEO of Xantus Corporation, an investor owned company that owns and operates health maintenance organizations.

Howard has been a member, board director or committee member of numerous organizations, including Southeast Community Capital; Nashville Electric Service; National Association of Corporate Directors; Nashville Chamber of Commerce; Federation of American Health Systems; Financial Executives Institute; National Easter Seal Society; National Urban League; Leadership Nashville Foundation; Project Reflect, Inc.; National Conference of Christians & Jews, Inc. (NCCJ); and United Way, among others. Howard was founder and director of 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, chairman of the board of the Urban League of Middle Tennessee, and trustee of Fisk University. He served on the Governor’s TennCare Roundtable in 1995 and the Boy Scouts Inner City Task Force Committee in 1988.

Howard was inducted into the Oklahoma State University School of Business Hall of Fame in 1983, and received the 1980 and 1984 Federation of American Hospitals President's Achievement Award. In 1994, he received the Nashville NAACP Branch Image Award for Lifetime Achievement and the NCCJ Human Relations Award. Howard received the Outstanding CEO Award among the 100 largest privately-held businesses in Nashville in 1997 and the Nashville Business Journal's 1995 Small Business Executive of the Year Award. He was honored as Nashvillian of the Year in 1998 by the Easter Seal Society of Tennessee and as Philanthropist of the Year in 1997 by the National Society of Fundraising Executives. In 2010, Howard received the White House Fellows John W. Gardner Legacy of Leadership Award.

Howard is the author of The Flight of the Phoenix: Thoughts on Work and Life, published in 2007.

Samuel H. Howard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 24, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.031

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/24/2014

Last Name

Howard

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Houston

Occupation
Schools

Oklahoma State University

Stanford University

Douglass School

First Name

Samuel

Birth City, State, Country

Marietta

HM ID

HOW06

Favorite Season

None

State

Oklahoma

Favorite Vacation Destination

Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

There Is No Traffic On The Extra Mile.$A Good Name Is Better To Be Chosen Than All The Riches Of The World.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

5/8/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Brentwood

Country

USA

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Corporate executive Samuel Howard (1939 - ) was the founder of Phoenix Holdings, Inc. and Phoenix Communications Group, Inc., and the author of 'The Flight of the Phoenix: Thoughts on Work and Life.'

Employment

General Electric Company

United States Government

Howard University

U.S. Health, Education, and Welfare Department

TAW International Leasing Corporation

Phoenix Holdings, Inc.

Phoenix Communications Group

Meharry Medical College

Hospital Affiliates International, Inc.

Hospital Corporation of America

Xantus Corporation

Favorite Color

Black and Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:640,16:896,21:1152,26:1600,34:2304,48:2880,58:9234,136:14330,195:16719,226:18982,280:35742,434:36326,444:37494,473:52030,702:54736,762:74111,1055:75851,1104:77156,1119:77852,1129:80636,1179:85405,1265:85673,1271:94718,1462:110684,1682:125627,1916:128585,1956:131804,1974:132634,1983:133132,1990:136307,2020:138265,2115:167964,2546:169950,2562:171340,2603$0,0:11556,127:34502,447:41270,544:41702,552:42134,559:43790,578:44222,585:46310,651:46670,700:48254,741:50414,784:54020,792:55444,914:82340,1111:102272,1290:102706,1299:107552,1360:111030,1395:111606,1404:113948,1413:119545,1473:124914,1608:125278,1613:138733,1763:139703,1776:147903,1884:150476,1980:154010,2030:160130,2242:164560,2284:165012,2289:174500,2503:177944,2546:178846,2563:183835,2620:184119,2625:192326,2750:193732,2779:199123,2842:199549,2849:200117,2859:216620,3039
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Samuel Howard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Samuel Howard lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Samuel Howard describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Samuel Howard remembers his mother's Christian faith

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Samuel Howard talks about the African American community in Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Samuel Howard describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Samuel Howard describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Samuel Howard remembers his home life in Lawton, Oklahoma

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Samuel Howard describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Samuel Howard lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Samuel Howard describes his neighborhood in Lawton, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Samuel Howard remembers segregation in Lawton, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Samuel Howard describes the black business district in Lawton, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Samuel Howard describes his employment during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Samuel Howard remembers his teachers at the Douglass School in Lawton, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Samuel Howard remembers his start at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Samuel Howard remembers paying for his education at Oklahoma State University

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Samuel Howard remembers his experiences at Oklahoma State University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Samuel Howard talks about race relations in Oklahoma

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Samuel Howard remembers his activities at Oklahoma State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Samuel Howard talks about his success at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Samuel Howard recalls his graduate studies at Stanford University in Stanford, California

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Samuel Howard remembers his courtship with his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Samuel Howard talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Samuel Howard remembers his computer training at General Electric

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Samuel Howard describes the White House Fellows program

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Samuel Howard remembers being selected for the White House Fellows program

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Samuel Howard talks about his wife's money management

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Samuel Howard recalls his experiences as a White House Fellow, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Samuel Howard recalls his experiences as a White House Fellow, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Samuel Howard talks about President Lyndon Baines Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Samuel Howard reflects upon his experiences as a White House Fellow

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Samuel Howard recalls his work as director of computer services at Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Samuel Howard remembers his work with TAW International Leasing, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Samuel Howard talks about his radio station investments, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Samuel Howard talks about his radio station investments, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Samuel Howard recalls his work at Meharry Medical College and the Insurance Company of North America

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Samuel Howard remembers filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Samuel Howard recalls serving as vice president and treasurer of the Hospital Corporation of America

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Samuel Howard remembers founding a Medicaid HMO in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Samuel Howard remembers the allegations against his Medicaid HMO

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Samuel Howard recalls his exoneration from criminal charges

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Samuel Howard talks about his financial losses

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Samuel Howard describes his recent business ventures

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Samuel Howard describes his proposed changes to the Medicare system

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Samuel Howard talks about his community engagement in Nashville, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Samuel Howard talks about his work with the Urban League of Middle Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Samuel Howard describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Samuel Howard talks about his employees

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Samuel Howard describes his children

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Samuel Howard talks about the separation between his family life and business

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Samuel Howard describes his service with the 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Samuel Howard talks about his wife

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Samuel Howard talks about his and his siblings' independence

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Samuel Howard reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Samuel Howard describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
Samuel Howard remembers his computer training at General Electric
Samuel Howard recalls his exoneration from criminal charges
Transcript
Now you went to work with General Electric as a financial analyst.$$That's right.$$Okay, and--$$But I was in that--what, the best thing that GE offered was the Financial Management Program--BTC, business training course. All executives who were in finance had to go through that course, that means I was really picked; I mean, that's where I really learned accounting and everything else. And I learned computers. I learned how to program a computer and I, I used to do that at General Electric company. And so I--you rotate through the job, through various jobs and one of my jobs I rotated was through the Financial Management Program--I mean the computer program (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Computer program. So, what, what were you--now this is the time when computers are the big mainframes?$$It's big main frames, the Philco 2000 [Transac S-2000] (laughter).$$Philco, that's (unclear)--yeah, we had a big Philco refrigerator--$$That's--(laughter).$$--and a TV. So they had a Philco 2000 computer?$$Yeah, yeah.$$Now how, how large was it? Just for the sake of--?$$I mean it's, god--this, this room here would not hold it, (laughter) it would be this whole office suite (laughter). It was big; and you, you deal, deal with these cards, you had, you know, these 80 column cards that you wrote your--all your program into, the FORTRAN language [Formula Translation] and this thing; and you, you drop those cards, they get out of order, you're up a creek (laughter). Oh, those, those were the days, you dropped a card, you're a mess. But I, I, I did learn a lot about computers. I learned conceptually what computers do. They're all really is one and zero, one and zero, one and zero--that's all it is: one, zero; and I, and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) (Unclear) I was going to say, yeah.$$Yeah. So conceptually I picked that up and so that I began to learn how to program FORTRAN; and, and I worked on--GE really taught me a lot of stuff in terms of finance, that's what I, that's what I learned from them.$$Okay, so you learned FORTRAN and this is--so this is training--GE is providing you training that Stanford [Stanford University, Stanford, California] (unclear) provide. Yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) That's right, that's right. GE was probably looking forward to me becoming an auditor and going up the financial room, and I was on track to be a officer in GE if I had just kept working. But they--what happened with GE was there was another opportunity that came up; and they, they suggested that I take that route, and that was the White House Fellows program.$I was in Calif- in Topeka, Kansas with my brother-in-law [Marvin Wilson]. And my brother-in-law, I told him what was going on with me and TennCare and HMO [health maintenance organization] and I showed him some clippings in the paper about my name and how I absconded with money. And my brother-in-law had a lawyer, friend of his, who was a criminal lawyer, African American, Joe Johnson [ph.], another Johnson (laughter).$$Another, right.$$But what he did was, he came in and read all that stuff, he said, "Sam [HistoryMaker Samuel Howard], this is really serious," 'cause I didn't think it was that serious 'cause I said I didn't do anything, you know, if you th- if you're innocent you don't--a person that's innocent doesn't really go around looking for any bad stones. And he told me that I had better go call his--"You need to get, get you and a lawyer and fight this." And so he got on the phone and he called guy named Bob Ritchie [Robert W. Ritchie], who is a Knoxville [Tennessee] criminal attorney that's a good friend of his. And Mr. Ritchie told me that when I landed to return from Topeka to Nashville, pick up two boxes of stuff on the papers and come to Knoxville--that's where he was. And I then engaged them to fight the case, and it took about $2 million. But the point is that when we got through with it, it was--they couldn't find anything. But I think it was more racially based in Nashville, Tennessee--that's what I think happened.$$If you hadn't had $2 million to fight it, what would've happened? You would've been in jail?$$I could have been--I'd of had to compromise in some fashion I'm sure. But I was fortunate enough to have that kind of cash because I had the radio stations. I sold them. I had some other things--and what, what I also had at the time was a very good reputation in the business community. I never went underground; I was visible. I was chairman of the chamber of commerce [Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce] at one point. I mean I was visible. And so most of the people they just say, "Sam, we don't believe them anyway." Especially my people who I'd worked with at Hospital Affiliates [Hospital Affiliates International, Inc.], HCA [Hospital Corporation of America], Tommy Frist [Thomas F. Frist, Jr.], all of them said that you all are wrong. And there was a--all the fellas were doing were lying, they tried to--they lied, and, and that's what that book ['The Flight of the Phoenix: Thoughts on Life and Work, Samuel H. Howard] is about. The last chapters of that book was about all of the trouble that went through--I went through. And then the last chapter is when I said: "It is finished." That's when they came to me and says we wanna settle and we wanna pay you. But I could not get all of the--my money back, my legal expenses and you can't write it off. You cannot write off your criminal expenses (unclear).$$So you take a beating?$$You take a beating.$$Okay.$$Yes. But I, I, I learned a lot, but it's, it's, it's tough. But I still have my reputation.

Condace Pressley

Journalist Condace Pressley was born in 1964 in Marietta, Georgia. She graduated from Marietta High School in 1982, where she was a columnist for her high school paper and co-editor of the school’s year book. She then went on to attend the University of Georgia and served as the news director of the college’s radio station before graduating magna cum laude with her B.A. degree in journalism in 1986.

Pressley was first hired at Cox as a reporter/anchor in 1986. She worked her way up, and in 1999, became the assistant program director and worked on radio stations AM750 and NOW95.5FM News/Talk WSB. In 1992, she was promoted to Cox’s general manager; and in 2012, became the general manager for WSB-AM. Pressley hosts her own show, Perspectives , where she interviews celebrities, authors, news makers and community leaders. She also contributes news reports to Atlanta's Morning News with Scott Slade and the Sean Hannity Show .

Pressley has been recognized numerous times for the quality of her journalism. In 1990 and 1991, she was named Radio News Woman of the Year Atlanta by the American Women in Radio and Television; and in 1990, she was also named Radio News Woman of the Year Atlanta by the American Women in Radio and Television. Pressley was elected president of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists in 1993. In 2001, she was elected president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and became director of the Radio Television News Directors Association. Pressley was honored at the 2010, YWCA Tribute to Women Leaders, and named a Pioneer Journalist by the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists in 2012. Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin named July 11, 2012, Condace Pressley Day.

Pressley has been published in the Nieman Reports , the Federal Communications Law Journal , and The Atlanta Daily Journal , and has served as a featured as a guest on CNN and C-SPAN .

Condace Pressley was interviewed by The History Makers on February 19, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.049

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/19/2014

Last Name

Pressley

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Middle Name

Levica

Schools

St Joseph Catholic School

Marietta High School

University of Georgia

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Condace

Birth City, State, Country

Marietta

HM ID

PRE05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florida Panhandle

Favorite Quote

It Doesn't Matter Who Gets the Credit as Long as You Get the Job Done.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

10/10/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Broadcast journalist Condace Pressley (1964 - ) is the assistant program manager for Cox Media Group in Atlanta, hosts the radio program Perspectives, and was previously the president of the National Association of Black Journalists and the director of the Radio Television News Directors Association.

Employment

Cox Media Group Atlanta

WSB Radio

Georgia Radio News Atlanta

WRFC Radio, Athens

WNGC/WGAU Radio

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Condace Pressley's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Condace Pressley lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Condace Pressley describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Condace Pressley describes her mother's upbringing, education, and nursing career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Condace Pressley describes her mother's career as a nurse at Kennestone Hospital and at the Lockheed Corporation in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Condace Pressley recounts her mother's experiences during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Condace Pressley describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Condace Pressley describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Condace Pressley talks about her father's career as a shopkeeper for the Lockheed Corporation and the Ford Motor Company in Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Condace Pressley recounts how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Condace Pressley describes her parents and her brother

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Condace Pressley talks about her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Condace Pressley describes her childhood homes in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Condace Pressley recalls the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Condace Pressley recalls her childhood neighborhood in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Condace Pressley talks about her grade school years at St. Joseph's Catholic School in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Condace Pressley talks about the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, and her mother's mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Condace Pressley describes her transition to Marietta High School in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Condace Pressley talks about her experience at Marietta High School in Marietta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Condace Pressley describes changes in Georgia during the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Condace Pressley describes working on the yearbook staff at Marietta High School in Marietta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Condace Pressley describes working on the yearbook staff at Marietta High School in Marietta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Condace Pressley recounts her decision to attend the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Condace Pressley talks about her parents' divorce

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Condace Pressley describes her teachers and her first radio journalism jobs while at the University of Georgia in Athens

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Condace Pressley talks about athletes at the University of Georgia and Marietta High School, like Herschel Walker, Dominique Wilkins, and Dale Ellis

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Condace Pressley describes HistoryMakers Monica Kaufman and Jocelyn Dorsey

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Condace Pressley talks about her A.B.J. degree and her extracurricular involvement at the University of Georgia in Athens

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Condace Pressley talks about extracurricular activities at the University of Georgia in Athens

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Condace Pressley describes interning and working at the Georgia Radio News Service

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Condace Pressley recounts how she was hired at WSB Radio in Atlanta, Georgia while working at the Georgia Radio News Service

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Condace Pressley describes working at WSB Radio in Atlanta, Georgia with Skinny Bobby Harper

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Condace Pressley describes covering politics on WSB Radio in Atlanta and meeting four U.S. presidents

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Condace Pressley recalls working with Atlanta, Georgia mayor Maynard Jackson while president of the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Condace Pressley recalls interesting local stories she covered at WSB Radio in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Condace Pressley describes becoming president of the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists and hosting the first UNITY conference in 1994

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Condace Pressley talks about covering politics during the 1994 election of Atlanta, Georgia mayor Bill Campbell

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Condace Pressley describes interviewing civil rights leaders including Coretta Scott King and HistoryMakers John Lewis and Andrew Young

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Condace Pressley recalls the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Condace Pressley talks about professional boxer Evander Holyfield

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Condace Pressley explains her journalistic philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Condace Pressley talks about her radio program, 'Perspectives,' on WSB in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Condace Pressley recalls the 1994 and 2000 Super Bowl games in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Condace Pressley reflects on the major events in Atlanta, Georgia since the 1990s

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Condace Pressley remembers the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Condace Pressley remembers the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Condace Pressley recounts her term as president of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) from 2001 to 2003.

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Condace Pressley reflects upon African American representation among news directors

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Condace Pressley talks about challenges facing African American news directors

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Condace Pressley explains how broadcast news programming has changed since the 1960s

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Condace Pressley reflects upon how the cable news networks like CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have affected the American news market

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Condace Pressley reflects upon how African American political views are represented in cable and broadcast news

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Condace Pressley explains why conservative voices dominate the talk radio format

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Condace Pressley talks about news and en Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Condace Pressley talks about her civic involvement and about HistoryMaker Xernona Clayton

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Condace Pressley reflects upon her future plans and what she would do differently

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Condace Pressley describes attending the 2009 and 2013 presidential inaugurations of HistoryMaker Barack Obama

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Condace Pressley talks about Antoinette Tuff, who convinced a gunman to surrender at McNair Discovery Learning Academy in DeKalb County, Georgia

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Condace Pressley talks about her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Condace Pressley describes her family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Condace Pressley reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Condace Pressley describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Condace Pressley narrates her photographs

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Condace Pressley describes covering politics on WSB Radio in Atlanta and meeting four U.S. presidents
Condace Pressley reflects upon how African American political views are represented in cable and broadcast news
Transcript
I remember February 17, 1991, when the air war started [Gulf War], that was the moment at which our program director morphed our station [WSB Radio, Atlanta, Georgia] from being a full-service radio station into a news talk radio station. We went to all news in the morning, talk throughout the day, news--heavy news presence in the afternoon. And that has evolved in the twenty-plus years since.$$Okay. Okay. So. So you became the morning show producer in '87 [1987], is that?$$Yes. Yes.$$Okay. All right. And this is [Skinny] Bobby Harper is on in the morning?$$Yes. He was with us until--Bobby left--Bobby and Kathy [Fishman] left--they left in '91 [1991], 'cause I remember that I was here. The [Atlanta] Braves went worst to first. I got to cover the World Series that year. That was a lot of fun. And then, as I say, when the Gulf War started, me at the radio--the one thing that is certain about working in radio is the uncertainty of working in radio. And so the program director then, they blew up the radio station, and Bobby and Kathy left. And we put on--we pull our guy out of the helicopter, the traffic reporter, and made him the host of our morning show. His name is Scott Slade, and he's still hosting our morning show today. But, yes. I went from being a nighttime anchor to being a producer and a reporter, a morning reporter, and then I was the news assignment editor, and then I was the assistant news director--the assistant program director, and now the manager of programming operations and community affairs.$$Wow. So you covered the Democratic National Convention [DNC] in '88 [1988]?$$Yes, I did.$$Here in Atlanta? Yeah.$$Yes. I think I've covered every political convention since '88 [1988].$$Yeah. [HM Reverend] Jesse [L.] Jackson was a big feature in that.$$And that was that eternally-long Bill Clinton speech. Yes. (laughs).$$Okay.$$Well, yeah. Jesse was here for that one as well.$$And Michael Dukakis (simultaneous)--$$Yes.$$--was the nominee of the Democratic Party.$$Yes. He was. He was--that was--I actually have--I've had great--covering politics, I've great experience covering politics and presidents. I covered the DNC in '88 [1988], and I've covered the DNC and the RNC [Republican National Convention] since. We used to do what we call ascertainment interviews. And we would invite in community leaders when--before deregulation of the industry. And we would sit in the big boardroom and have lunch and discuss issues of community interest. And once President [Jimmy] Carter came, and I had to sit next--in the big boardroom in our old building, I sat next to Jimmy Carter, and we had lunch, and we talked, and he was the nice--he is the nicest man. He is a true WYSIWYG, "what you see is what you get." And I remember asking him, I was like, you know, what was, as he looked back on his presidency, you know, what was the thing that's really troubled him the most. And he talked to me about, you know, staying up at night during the Iran Contra hype--hostage situation [Iran Hostage Crisis 1979 - 1981] and not being able to resolve that, because, you know, it was his failure to resolve that, the hostage crises that led to [Ronald] Reagan's election, and what happened after that. But I got to cover Reagan. That was back in the day when the White House would do regional media visits. And this was very early in my career, and it was in the early term of the Reagan presidency. And they would invite regional media to come up and participate in a White House news conference. And I knew that President Reagan's favorite color was red, because Helen Thomas would always be sitting on the front row with her red suit, and I got to go and I put on my red suit and got to stand up and go, "Mr. President, Mr. President." And it was--$$So you did your homework.$$I did. I did my homework. And the only thing was I still messed up though, because there was another regional reporter there who managed to get President Reagan to say, "You know, when I am in Nashville [Tennessee], I listen to W dot dot dot." And she got it, she fed it down the line, and the radio station in Nashville turned it into a promo on a company hour I.D., and they said, "Why didn't you get him to do that? 'Cause he's not supposed to do that." And they got--it ran, maybe, three or four hours before--of course, they got a cease and desist from the White House that says the President doesn't do promos. So, but I did. I got to ask--I asked Reagan a question. I was--actually rode in a presidential motorcade. I was pool reporter when Bush Forty-One [George H.W. Bush] came to Atlanta for the first observation of the [Reverend Dr.] Martin Luther King [Jr.] federal holiday. And we went out. We met Air Force One up at Dobbins [Air Reserve Base]. I've never driven that fast, and there's never been as little traffic on the Atlanta interstates as when there's a presidential motorcade riding through the city; and did that; came to the King Center, met Bill Clinton through my work with the NABJ [National Association of Black Journalists]. And really, the only president I haven't either interviewed or met is [HM] President [Barack] Obama. But I think I've got a few more years to perhaps make that happen.$Is there any--what program today do you think comes closer to representing the interests of the African American community?$$(Pause). I think to the extent that there are those who want to put the African American community in one box, there probably is not one program. Because in 2014, I don't think that the color is necessarily black or white, or brown or white. The color is, and for many years now, has always been green. So you are going to have your church-going conservative African-Americans who are going to gravitate to the likes of a Herman Cain and other personalities on the Fox News Channel. Then you are going to have more progressive African-Americans who are going to gravitate to the message of [HM] the Reverend Jesse Jackson or [HM] Reverend Al Sharpton on MSNBC. And then you're going to have, yet, another group of African Americans who believe that I can make an opinion on my own; I don't need to have your opinion to tell me what to think. And they're gonna read and choose CNN and do some of those other things and just gather the information and make decisions for themselves. We got a lot of great black journalists out there, and many of them are my friends. I love [HM] Roland Martin and what he's doing over at TV One. I love [HM] Tavis Smiley. He's a terrific interviewer. I love what he's doing over at PBS. But, again, even in that arena they still each bring a certain point of view and a certain amount of their personality to the journalism that they do in order to attract, again, a very well-researched audience.$$Okay.$$It's very niche now, I think it is.$$Yeah. I'm going to raise a contradiction here. This is something that--I think that the only place where you see a balance of black conservatives and black liberals is on television, 'cause you don't see it in real life. You don't see half black people conservative and half progressive or--you know, you just don't see that in real life. Even conservative black church-goers tend to not be really supporters of the conservatives--you know, of the conservative mindset, even though they have Herman Cain or (simultaneous) (unclear)--$$Maybe on some issues. Not on all of the issues, but certainly on some issues. I can see that.$$Yeah. It seems like the media has more of them gathered than they, you know, represent--than are represented in terms of votes and that sort of thing in the real world. But, would you (simultaneous) (unclear)--$$Oh, well, there's a reason why President Obama [HM President Barack Obama] has a 89 to a 90 percent approval rating among African Americans. I mean, clearly, African Americans are--you know, I don't want to say that we--I don't think we as a people, you know, vote in the lockstep. I think there is certainly a certain significance, the fact that, that he's the President of the United States, that he--a reelected President of the United States for a second term, which means the first term was not an accident as some people perhaps would like to say. But I think to the extent that some people might suggest, especially people who are not black, that all black people think alike. I think that's definitely not true.