Danny Highsmith on Coach Mike Krzyzewski and George G. Beasley. (Encore)
Wednesday, June 2nd was a watershed day in North Carolina AND at Beasley Media Group headquarters in Fayetteville:
Coach “K” – Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski – the winningest coach in College Basketball – announced this would be his last season as head coach at Duke. On the eve of his retirement weekend, Coach K had more wins and more NCAA tournament appearances and wins than any College basketball coach in history!
The Founder of Beasley Media Group, George Garland Beasley, passed away at the age of 85! A former high school principal who bought his first radio station in Benson, NC in 1961 and remained connected to the company as Chairman to the day of his passing, George Beasley saw the ascension of his company from one station to one of the 5 or 6 largest in the U.S.A. Along the way, he – along with his loving wife, Ann – raised children who run the company day-to-day today – plus a doctor, Bob, to who he was incredibly proud!
There was one person, a near fifty year employee of Beasley Media Group who was also the creator of the original DAILY “Talkback” program in the 1970’s, J. Daniel Highsmith (DANNY) , who saw up-close the leadership styles, acumen, and relentless pursuit of excellence and detail of BOTH MEN! Danny was already working at WFAI/Fayetteville when George bought the station. Not too long afterward, Danny was elevated to General Manager of WFAI – George’s first station in Fayetteville! Danny operated one of Beasley’s highest cash-flowing markets for years, giving George Beasley some of the impetus and cushion to invest in and grow his company! The rest, as they, is history!
Danny also had a penchant for sports and sports broadcasting. For ten years, while working his “day job” at Beasley Media Group, he also served as “Color Analyst” on Duke University Radio broadcasts of Football and Basketball games! In that capacity, he also saw the hiring of a young Head Coach, recruited from West Point (Army) by then Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters! The young man’s name was Mike Krzyzewski. Danny witnessed Coach K’s struggles to recruit in his first season (no time), get frustrated his second season, see the buzzards circling above his third season (to be saved by Tom Butters), before finally reaching a National Championship Game his 4th season! The rest, as they say, is History!
Listening to Danny’s recollections of the wisdom, determination, clear-eyed courageous decision-making and leadership in the midst of turbulent times made this one of the most enjoyable Talkback shows I have ever been involved in!