WCTE remembers founding general manager Richard Castle

Richard Castle began his television career as a director and cameraman. (Photo provided by WCTE)

COOKEVILLE – WCTE, Central TN PBS, would likely not be here if not for the direction and care of Richard Castle, as well as the commitment he and his family made in 1978 to the Upper Cumberland region with public media to establish WCTE, which continues to be the only television station licensed to this rural region.

On Thursday, March 4 at 5 p.m., WCTE will pay tribute to this legacy leader with a special “Live at 5”broadcast in memory of Castle. Hosted by Becky Magura, WCTE president and CEO, the special will include his sons, Art and Roger Castle, as well as interviews with former staff and community members. In addition to the program airing on WCTE, it will also be streamed via Facebook and WCTE.org. The program will repeat on WCTE PBS Friday, March 5 at 5 p.m. 

Richard Castle, Jr. was born in Danville, Ill. in October 1936 to Richard and Bessie Castle. He grew up showing horses with his family at local and state fairs and developing his love of sports attending University of Illinois sporting events with his father. He attended and graduated from Danville High School. While in high school, he got his first experience in television while working at the local radio station that started broadcasting television which was in its infancy. After graduating from Northwestern University, with a degree in acting and theater, he served in the United States Army, where he became a member of the 82nd Airborne. Upon leaving the military, he moved to Buffalo, NY and joined the local NBC affiliate as a director and cameraman. 

After several years in Buffalo, he moved to New Hampshire to join the PBS family at the New Hampshire Network. This is where he met his wife, Donna Lee King. They were married from 1969 until her passing from cancer in 2008. Donna was his constant companion.  

He then moved to Nashville to work at WDCN-TV. After a few years at the state of Tennessee, he moved to Cookeville to become the general manager of WCTE-TV, where he focused on highlighting the Upper Cumberland covering local businesses, music and his favorite local sports, including Tennessee Tech athletics. After he retired from the station and the passing of his wife, Richard moved to Santa Monica, Calif.  

Richard Castle mentored many WCTE employees including current WCTE president and CEO Becky Magura.

“Richard Castle gave so many of us our start in broadcasting!” said Becky Magura, WCTE Central TN PBS president and CEO. “I know he is responsible for the career I have at WCTE and placed me on a path that I have cherished and love. His legacy will live on here as well as throughout the country with media professionals he has influenced over the years.” 

Castle passed away peacefully on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. In addition to the broadcast memorial on WCTE, a small funeral service will be held with his immediate family in Iowa, where he will be laid to rest with his parents and his sister. He is survived by the three sons, Russell, Arthur and Roger. 

Donations can be made to WCTE PBS in lieu of flowers to support a local production fund at www.wcte.orgor by calling Avery Hutchins at 931-528-2222. 

WCTE has served the Upper Cumberland for more than 40 years as the regions premier storyteller and is the only television station in a 75-mile radius of Cookeville, making it a strategic partner in education, health services, government, arts and music. WCTE is a 501(c) 3 and is owned and operated by the Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council. WCTE is one of only 350 PBS member stations nationwide.

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