Former Austin broadcaster, lawmaker remembered for his talents, charm

Oct 16, 2017
Former television broadcaster and Austin City Council Member Dan Love died last week at 88. Love became the first evening newscaster for KTBC-TV and later ran KHFI-TV as its general manager from 1965 to 1974. He was elected to the City Council in 1971 and re-elected in 1973, serving as mayor pro tem during both terms. AMERICAN-STATESMAN FILE PHOTO

Marvin “Dan” Love, an Austin broadcasting pioneer and former city lawmaker, died Friday. He was 88.

Love became a newscaster for KTBC-TV (also known as Fox 7 Austin) and later ran KHFI-TV (now known as KXAN) as its general manager from 1965 to 1974. He was elected to the Austin City Council in 1971 and re-elected in 1973, serving as mayor pro tem during both terms.

He began his media career while he was a college sophomore as the Voice of Austin at KTBC radio. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1952, he worked for KTBC-TV, Austin’s first television station. During his time there, he worked as a sports anchor and hosted a TV show with legendary UT football coach Darrell Royal.

“He had a great radio voice,” longtime newsman Neal Spelce said. “Back then, it was a combination of radio and TV, so everybody did dual duties. In the early 1950s, there were only four guys there that did everything. It was a real seat of your pants operation.”

Love was drafted as general manager when Austin’s second television station, KHFI-TV, arrived in 1965. A familiar on-screen personality, he often returned to the air.

“Dan was a guy who laughed a lot, joked a lot and kept everything light,” Spelce said. “People liked to have Dan around. He was a real mentor, too.”

David Jarrott, who enjoyed a long career in Austin media before becoming a successful theater producer, worked for Love at KHFI-AM radio.

“I remember Dan as a gregarious, fun-loving yet driven general manager,” Jarrott said. “He was a true broadcaster and loved every part of the business. … Our paths crossed several times in the years following that, and I will never forget his incredible voice — that voice could sell anything.”

When Love and his wife, Joyce, moved to Elgin 28 years ago, Joyce recalled, she was chatting with someone at a local store and said it might take them years before they’d be considered part of the community.

“’That doesn’t apply to you,’” Joyce said the person told her. “’Dan has been living for years and years and years in our living room.’”

While he was still working as general manager for KHFI, Love was elected to the Austin City Council.

“Dan Love was an impeccable speaker and a moderating voice on the council,” said Lee Cooke, mayor of Austin from 1988 to 1991. “He was well-liked and brought common-sense thinking to the dais. People related to him (as if he were) a neighbor because he was a TV personality in Austin when it was one-fourth the population of today.”

Love took a break from both politics and the media business due a struggle with alcoholism, which he beat, his obituary says. He later served on the boards of several alcoholism treatment facilities.

“He married Joyce Atkinson in 1981, and with her support, his faith in God and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, he would find sobriety,” the obituary says.

Putting that information in Love’s obituary was his idea, Joyce said. Love had been sober for 43 years at the time of his death, the obituary says.

“He always told me that he did not want to ever keep it a secret,” she said. “Since he was able to recover from that, he felt if he could inspire someone else who was suffering from alcoholism and let them know it can be overcome and it can be conquered … He used to say that if he could do it, anyone can.”

In 1989, Dan Love returned to school, and in 1995 he earned a master’s degree in communication from Texas State University in San Marcos at the age of 65.

“That’s something he’s always been proud of,” Joyce said.

Soon after graduating, he returned to Texas State as a professor. He taught speech classes for about a decade, and the students voted him teacher of the year multiple times.

His wife said she found a file this past weekend that was loaded with notes and letters from students.

“They all say really sweet things, like ‘you’re my favorite professor,’ and ‘you helped me so much,’ ” she said. “I didn’t even know he had this file until now.”