Gene Arthur Slaymaker, who during his career amassed over 200 awards for journalism excellence and who was News Director of the legendary WTLC-FM News Department during the mid 19070’s to early 1990’s died last weekend. He was 84. Under Slaymaker’s leadership, WTLC news amassed countless awards from the Associated Press, United Press International, the Radio-TV News Directors Association, the headliners Club and the CAPSER Awards from the United Way fro broadcast excellence. WTLC was known for its powerful editorials, written by Slaymaker, that shown a light on police abuse of power in Indianapolis and other ills and problems that affected the African-American community. Three journalists who worked with Slaymaker talked about his life and career with Amos Brown on Afternoons with Amos. Kelly Vaughn, WTLC’s current News Director joined former colleagues Wendell Ray and Andrew Reed in sharing their experiences of this unique, dedicated journalist. Click below to Hear their Remembrances of Gene Slaymaker. And Read Below the full Obituary for Gene Arthur Slaymaker.
Gene Slaymaker brought the skills he had learned as a Journalism major at The Ohio State University and in newsrooms in Ohio and at the old WRTV (formerly WFBM) TV and their sister radio stations to the fledging Black WTLC-FM. Under Slaymaker’s leadership, he created a team of young journalists who built a reputation for reporting writing and reporting and presenting quality newscasts, documentaries and reports and editorials that haven’t been duplicated any by any Black formatted station, before and since.
The son of Edwin Paul and Anna Elizabeth (Grable), Gene Arthur Slaymaker was born in Kenton, Ohio on September 15, 1928 and raised in Fremont, Ohio. After serving in World War III, Slaymaker graduated from The Ohio State University majoring in Radio Journalism at Ohio State University. While in college, Slaymaker was a reporter and announcer for WLWC-TV in Columbus.
After graduation, Slaymaker became a news anchor and reporter for Youngstown, Ohio’s WKBN-AM-FM-TV before joining Cleveland’s KYW-TV. In 1956, Slaymaker moved to Indianapolis where he became News Editor at WFBM-AM-FM-TV (now WRTV). In 1960, he founded his own public relations firm Slaymaker and Associates.
He caught the attention of WTLC founder Dr. Frank Lloyd who invited Slaymaker to head up his fledging station’s news operation. Dr. Lloyd wanted WTLC not only to entertain the community, but to inform.
This began Gene Slaymaker’s eighteen year career at the as News Director at the station. His staff not only provided news for WTLC-FM, but for several years provided newscasts for the station’s big band sister station WTUX-AM.
On numerous occasions, judges of prestigious journalism awards competition would describe Slaymaker’s work and his news operation as one that provided a “voice for those who had no voice.”
In 2007, Gene Slaymaker was inducted into Indiana’s Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Gene Slaymaker was also President of The Lambs Club, the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association and the Indiana Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, who established the Gene and Julie Slaymaker “Indiana Service to Journalism” award in honor of their 30 years of service to the organization as statewide contest coordinators.
During his time in PR, Gene can twice for the Indiana Legislature. He was a co-founder of Indianapolis/Scarborough Peace Games. He was elected twice as a Regional Director of the Radio-Television News Directors Association and was a member of the Park Tudor Father’s Association Board, The Players, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and The Indianapolis Press Club. Slaymaker also made history as the second male admitted into Woman’s Press Club of Indiana.
Gene Slaymaker is survived by his devoted wife Julie; by six children and step-children and nine grandchildren. He was predeceased by two brothers Richard and Tom Slaymaker. And is survived by siblings Mary Ann Benfer, Sharon St. Clair and Dr. Phil Slaymaker. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a tax-deductible contribution be made to the Julie and Gene Slaymaker Scholarship Fund administered by Woman’s Press Club of Indiana’s Education Fund, Inc. Donations should be sent to the National Bank of Indianapolis, 49th and Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, IN 46201. Arrangements have been entrusted to Aaron-Ruben-Nelson Mortuary. www.arnmortuary.com.