Longtime Oklahoma broadcaster and OETA station manager William C. “Bill” Thrash passed away Monday.
Thrash started his career at KTEN in Ada in 1955 while still in high school. An obituary published on OETA’s Facebook page says Thrash began as a camera operator, before becoming the station’s program manager. He graduated from East Central University in 1961, and his alma mater later named its television studio after him.
From the 1960s through the 1980s, Thrash worked at KOCO and WKY-TV (now KFOR), producing and directing local programs, specials, sports, and the popular daytime series Dannysday, starring the late Danny Williams and Mary Hart, who later went on to co-host The Regis Philbin Show and Entertainment Tonight.
Thrash left commercial broadcasting for public television in 1988 to become the station manager of OETA. OETA says the five-hour miniseries Oklahoma Passage he produced remains the most-watched special event in the network’s history.
Thrash also worked to develop The Lawrence Welk Show for public broadcasters nationwide, and most the television authority’s signature local programs, such as Stateline, The Oklahoma News Report, and The OETA Movie Club. From OETA:
His passion for Oklahoma made Thrash the perfect person to help develop and manage the many productions involved with celebrating the state’s centennial. He played an integral role in the Oklahoma Centennial Projects as television producer, including the Emmy Award-winning broadcast of the Oklahoma State Capitol Dome Dedication Story, staging the Oklahoma Memorial Concert and the unveiling of the Centennial Anthem, Oklahoma Rising. In 2007, Thrash produced the Oklahoma Centennial Parade and the Emmy Award-winning Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular.
In 2013, OETA named their Oklahoma City facility the “William C. ‘Bill’ Thrash Studio.” Bill Thrash was 73.