SAN ANTONIO RADIO HALL OF FAME
Bernie Waterman began his career in broadcasting as a journalist, working as a sports writer for the local newspaper while attending the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. At the same time, he was also broadcasting play-by-play for the Big Ten on KFRU Radio.
While at his first job, Waterman’s interest in broadcasting continued to grow and he eventually accepted a full-time position at a local NBC station. Soon, Bernie became dissatisfied with the ideas of his employers and decided to strike out on his own.
In 1956, he and his wife, Edith, bought their first radio station, WAAB in Worcester, Massachusetts. Bernie tried innovations in the industry early on. He was a pioneer in audience analysis, doing research at night to find out what music the audience wanted to hear. In an early effort at broadcasting election returns, he aired the sound of adding machines totaling votes as each precinct reported.
In 1965 the Watermans purchased two radio stations in San Antonio, KTSA and KTFM. Both would eventually become the top-ranking stations in the city. Bernie used clever, early marketing ploys to build station audiences. Listeners were encouraged to wear a pin or post a bumper sticker advertising the station, so spotters could spot them and award them prize money. It was like a walking billboard.
His mantra was “beat the competition”. If one radio station gave away $10,000 to listeners, he gave away $20,000. Both stations were perennially top-rated in the market. Bernie owned the stations for 35 years, selling to Infinity Broadcasting in 2000.
In 2016, at age 95, Bernie maintains the titles of president and chief executive officer of Waterman Broadcasting, in Fort Myers, Florida. Edith at 93 is vice president and secretary…and both are still actively involved in daily operations.