Lowell “Bud” Paxson is a pioneer in the media industry whose first radio job was as a “go-fer” for local disc jockeys. He was also an announcer at several area stations during his four years in college, and earned a degree in radio and TV from Syracuse University’s School of Speech and Dramatic Arts. He bought his first radio station in 1956 and in 1963 formed Trend Broadcasting which, in 1969, acquired Sarasota’s WYND.
In 1977 the Rochester, New York native recognized the value of the airwaves for direct sales and began selling merchandise over WWQT, a Florida AM station that he owned in Dunedin. From that experience grew the concept of the Home Shopping Network which he launched locally in Tampa Bay in 1982. HSN became so successful that he went national in 1985 and, a year later, established Silver King Communications, a leading producer of info-mercials.
In 1991 Paxson sold his interest in both HSN and Silver King for a tidy $130 million profit, founded Paxson Communications, and then began buying radio and TV properties. As a result of 1993’s FCC rule change permitting radio duopolies, he was among the first to expand his holdings at very favorable acquisition prices and prepared his company to capitalize further with the prospect of television duopolies.
In addition to stations in Jacksonville and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, his radio holdings grew to include outlets in Orlando (WWNZ, WWZN, WGTO, WJRR, and WMGF) and Tampa Bay (WHPT, WNZE, WHNZ, Sarasota's WYND, and Lakeland’s WEZY). He also acquired the Florida Radio Network and the University of Florida’s Gator football and basketball networks. Other media acquired included radio outlets in Tennessee, state radio networks in Tennessee and South Carolina, football and basketball sports networks in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, Telemundo (the Spanish TV network), and Florida TV stations (owned or managed) in Tampa Bay, Palm Beach, Miami, and Atlanta.
From 1991 to 1997 Paxson built a 46-station radio and television empire, the largest group of radio stations and networks in Florida. He sold his radio interests to Clear Channel in 1997 and began to focus on television. His biggest dream was realized in 1998 when PAX TV, a national family entertainment network of stations, was launched as the nation’s seventh broadcast television network.
Over the years he has received numerous accolades for his broadcast business accomplishments and has been the recipient of the Florida Entrepreneur of the Year Award (1994), the American Free Enterprise Award (1996), Broadcaster of the Year Award presented by the Florida Association of Broadcasters (1997), the NIMA International Lifetime Achievement Award from the Worldwide Electronic Marketing Association (1997), the Outstanding Business Leader Award from Northwood University (1998), and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business (1999).
Lowell "Bud” Paxson passed away January 9, 2015. He was 80.
1991 - 1997 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (Management)