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Television pioneer Tom Draper dies

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Thomas H. Draper, who built WBOC-TV in Salisbury, Maryland into one of the most dominant television stations in America, has died from injuries sustained in a bicycle accident near his home in Delaware. He was 76.

Draper was struck by a pick-up truck Thursday morning while out for his daily bicycle ride, according to WBOC officials.

“There are no words to express the profound grief the WBOC family feels at this time,” said Craig Jahelka, president of Draper Media. “Tom was a broadcast pioneer, who said often those of us at WBOC have a moral obligation to serve the people of Delmarva. Our thoughts and prayers are now with his family.”

Jahelka said Draper had just celebrated his 50th anniversary in broadcasting earlier this month.

“Tom wanted to serve the people of Delmarva with high quality news and information,” said Jahelka. “He and his family continually poured money back into the station. And that passion was rewarded as WBOC-TV grew to become one of the most dominant local stations in the nation.”

Using digital technology, Draper’s expanded the CBS affiliate to include FOX and Antenna TV on sub-channels. He launched a separate digital division, and in 2015 purchased a 50,000-watt radio station, WBOC-FM.

Baker said his legacy will live on through his children, who, with others, form the board of directors for Draper Holdings.

“Tom was adamant that WBOC live on past him,” said Baker. “Although we are a private company, he did have a Board of Directors and made sure all four of his kids knew about the business. All of them have worked at WBOC over the years, and they share his dedication.”

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