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Broadcast Executive Thomas Cookerly Dies

Thomas Cookerly (at right) is shown in consultation with Allbritton General Counsel Jerald Fritz (middle) and Allbritton President Larry Hebert. According to Fritz the photo was taken on the Allbritton corporate plane in April 1989 and the discussion was of funding for the Byron Allen weekend talk show the company produced.
Thomas Cookerly (at right) is shown in consultation with Allbritton General Counsel Jerald Fritz (middle) and Allbritton President Larry Hebert. According to Fritz the photo was taken on the Allbritton corporate plane in April 1989 and the discussion was of funding for the Byron Allen weekend talk show the company produced. (Image credit: The Cookerly Family)

Thomas Cookerly, 94, a former top media executive who ran the broadcast division for Allbritton Communications, died January 16 at his home in Bethesda, Maryland, according to The Washington Post.

Cookerly ran Allbritton's ABC affiliate WJLA-TV Washington (since sold to Sinclair) before being named to head the group, which included TV and radio stations.

Cookerly was also chairman of the Television Bureau of Advertising and the ABC TV affiliates association.

"I got to know Tom pretty well while we were serving together on the Library of American Broadcasting Board of Directors," said former top National Association of Broadcasters communications executive Dennis Wharton in an e-mail about Cookerly. "Tom was a true gentleman, raised tons of money for needy kids through The Neediest Kids (a charity that he launched), and was just a wonderful human being."

"I worked closely with Tom as Allbritton’s General Counsel when he ran WJLA," said Jerald Fritz, now executive VP for strategic planning and legal affairs at ONE Media 3.0. "Tom was the consummate broadcast leader at ease with big policy as well as minute details of station operations and always available with a kind word for each one of his employees."

“Tom was a 'Manager’s Manager," said former top Disney/ABC and Fox executive Preston Padden. "[He was] a member of an informal industry group entitled 'The Greatest General Managers.' He was respected and beloved by so many in the Washington Community.”

Cookerly is survived by four children. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to Potomac Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 59869, Potomac, MD 20854. ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.