Published 6:10 am Saturday, February 3, 2018

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

Every community needs a “go-to” guy. At the end of the day, however, there are far more “run-from” folks perfectly willing to let the “go-to’ers” lead the way for the common good.

One such man known for leadership is radio executive Rex Tackett. For a dozen years, he’s been a corner post in Central Texans’ fence row of life. Rex is counted on to show up, put up and play up projects and causes utilizing his unique talents.

He has an abundance of words, this man with more than 50 years in radio and owner of Wendlee Broadcasting. There are both AM and FM stations in both Brownwood and Coleman.

While many community leaders emcee events, few–if any–are also professional auctioneers. And, when pressed, this amicable, 74-year-old can officiate at weddings. He’s conducted just one–for a longtime employee–but may do more if he develops auctioneering vows.

Tackett’s first year in the radio industry was a struggle. What seemed to be impossible morphed into a career that resulted in his induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.

Low slung, he’s an incurable optimist, joking that he hoped for additional height, even in his 60s. Alas, he “topped out” a few inches over five feet, but still ran with the big boys in Cross Plains, TX, where the principal had a paddle with his name on it.

After finishing high school in 1961, he was off to Lubbock, holding down several jobs while attending Texas Tech. Supporting a young family, he fell just short of graduation.

Following college, he learned that radio was his “thing.” His leadership qualities were quickly obvious. His selling expertise–evident early on–led to management, with several stations turned from distressed operations to market leaders.

An inspiration to colleagues, Rex introduced several to Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich. “When taken to heart, the book is an overnight life changer,” he said. “It changed mine.”

Already with a beautiful daughter, his life changed in 1969 when a special needs son was born. He says son Jim has matured wonderfully, and has been employed at a San Antonio Fiesta Texas restaurant for more than 25 years.

Rex started early on to find help for folks with special needs.

One night, he attended a fund-raiser auction where the auctioneer was “absolutely awful.”

Feeling he could help such causes raise more money, he decided to enroll in auctioneering school.

Mariann, his wife, wasn’t surprised. She has encouraged his charity auction commitments, and has sat through many auctions.

With vast experience in the radio business, Mariann is described as the “brains of our outfit.” Rex dares to add that he’s the “pretty face.”

Tackett’s auctioneering talent is largely for noble causes wherever they’ve lived. Their auctions and radio promotions have touched many lives, including annual Easter egg hunts in Brownwood that attract some 3,000 children who consume hot dogs and 25,000 pieces of hard candy.

The Tacketts thought they were “out to pasture” upon 2002 retirement. Their small Brown County ranch was a good place for him to raise and train bird dogs. But, they were lured back into service.

With business taking more of Rex’s time, dog training has gone other where. “If we work hard, maybe our radio business won’t go where the dogs are,” he chuckled.

The wedding “thing” deserves further explanation. “I’m not a minister, JP, mayor, or ship captain,” Rex protested. Then, the prospective bride/employee produced an Internet-generated “official ordination.” Finding it to be legal, he performed the rites under cloudy skies, with thunder rumbling in the background. Tackett is reluctant to use the hospital “parking pass,” however.

Ever humble, Rex says mistakes along the way have been of his own making, and any successes due to the kindness of others.

He’s a winner. And if he ever works auctioneering into the vows, I want to wangle an “invite.”


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury. Facebook, don newbury.