NEWORLEANS-- Former New Orleans broadcasting executive Eric Anderson, who was general manager of WNOE when it launched its successful country music format and served as a founder of the Greater New Orleans Broadcasters Association, died July 29 in Port Charlotte, Florida. He was 85.
Anderson began his broadcasting career in his hometown of Memphis but came to New Orleans in 1970 to become general manager at WBOK-AM. He later joined WNOE, and was general manager of the station in 1980 when the station adopted the country music format that it has had for more than 30 years now.
'We had done a survey of the market and there was a hole in the market at the time,' Anderson said in a 1998 interview. 'There was only one country station and it was a daytime AM, so we felt the time was right for there to be an FM station.'
Anderson is also remembered as one of the founders of the Greater New Orleans Broadcasters Association, the trade association that represents local radio and television stations in both lobbying and public service efforts.
'The GNOBA was founded in 1972 for community ascertainment for license renewal,' Anderson explained in a video produced to mark his induction into the New Orleans Broadcasting Hall of Fame, sponsored by the GNOBA. 'It was far more sensible for 25 of us to bring the community leaders in than for them to talk to 25 different stations. And there were several of us who felt it would be of benefit if we kept the organization going on an ongoing basis even after that.'
Anderson also served as an officer of the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, which honored him as Broadcaster of the Year in 1987.
'Eric was not just a founding member of the GNOBA and a great radio manager, he was an outstanding human being who always had a friendly word for those he came in contact with,' said Don Cooper, executive director of GNOBA.
Cooper said his first meeting with Anderson displayed the broadcaster's generous spirit and lively presence, even when he wasn't behind the microphone or in the radio studio.
'I was working airport security to pay my way through Loyola,' Cooper said. 'He was coming through the airport and somehow I saw his WNOE business card and started talking to him. That was nearly 40 years ago and I still remember the encounter fondly.'
Anderson is survived by his wife, Nancy Madlinger Anderson; four children; seven grandchildren; two great grandchildren, and a host of nieces and nephews. A memorial service is planned for Aug. 16 in Punta Gorda, Florida. In lieu of flowers, donations in Anderson's name can be made to: Tidewell Hospice at tidewellhospice.org.