The Greater Washington Board of Trade last night honored radio executive Andrew M. Ockershausen as its 1982 Man of the Years.
Ockershausen is executive vice president of WMAL Inc., operator of Washington radio stations WMAL-AM and WRQX-FM.
The Man of the Years award is presented by the Board of Trade each year to one of its members for outstanding contributions to business and the community.
Ockershausen, 53, has been a member of the Board of Trade since the early '50s and has been a director and member of its executive committee for more than 10 years.
He has received numerous awards for community service, among them the Outstanding Civilian Service medal--the armed forces' highest award presented by the U.S. Army for distinguished service to the military community.
A third-generation Washingtonian, Ockershausen began work at WMAL as a page in 1950. He was appointed station manager 10 years later and, for several years, was general manager of WMAL radio and television.
Under Ockershausen, WMAL-AM has become one of the industry's leading stations. "WMAL has done a hell of a good community-related job in my opinion," said Vincent Wasilweski, president of the National Association of Broadcasters.
"I think the station has maintained great stature under Andy's leadership," Wasilewski added.
WMAL's annual billings were about $300,000 in 1960 when Ockershausen became station manager. Total annual billings currently are running well over $13 million, industry sources estimate.
Ockershausen attributes the station's success to staff continuity as well as its extensive involvement in community affairs. Turnover among the station's on-air personalities has been almost nonexistent, with most working at WMAL 20 years or longer.
"We wanted to build the station as a friend and community spirit," said Ockershausen. "Each of our programs has involvement in the community."
That involvement runs the gamut from fund-raising for Children's Hospital to broadcasting Washington Redskins' footbal games.
WMAL was the first local station to broadcast traffic conditions from a helicopter and, although it is not an all-news outlet, it maintains a 24-hour news operation.
"The first move we had to make was to make WMAL hometown-oriented," Ockershausen said in a recent interview. "As I look back, that was a very important factor in our growth."
One of Ockershausen's first and ultimately successful programming changes was to assign broadcast veterans Frank Harden and Jackson Weaver to the early-morning show.
Ockershausen did away with the disc jockey label and promoted Harden and Weaver as well as other on-air types as radio personalities. "We designed the show to have them reach out to the community," Ockershausen explained.
The first Harden and Weaver show carried only eight commercial spots in the three-hour time slot. Today, the popular morning show runs 18 spots an hour and is "pretty well sold out for those 4 1/2 hours" from 5:30 to 10 a.m., Ockershausen said.