Bold, witty, and sensitive, Samuel Stallworth Jr. was a consummate marketing visionary. Throughout his 30-year career in the TV industry, he earned not only respect from professional colleagues but, perhaps as important to him, their friendship, as well.
Stallworth, 57, died Dec. 1, 2003, at Tampa, Fla., General Hospital, surrounded by his family, after being diagnosed with lung cancer in October.
A broadcast-TV veteran with three decades of advertising-sales and station-management experience, Stallworth was, for the last three years, vice president and general manager of WFTS Tampa, an ABC network affiliate owned and operated by E.W. Scripps Co.
"Sam was the rarest of executives who could lead the charge as a successful general manager, while at the same time demonstrating his respect and loyalty to the individuals who carried out the mission," says John Lansing, Scripps senior vice president, television. "His countless friends in the broadcasting business are the best memorial to Sam's accomplished career."
Among the legions of friends is WFTS News Director Bill Berra, who also served as news director under Stallworth at WSYX Columbus, Ohio, before following him to Tampa. "I think it's a measure of a man that someone would leave a great job, uproot the family, and move 2,000 miles just because he says, 'I need you,'" says Berra. "He instilled that kind of loyalty in everyone."
Although he was a strong competitor and task master, Stallworth never ignored the human side of the business, even when he was drilling down into Nielsen numbers. "He would ask you why they were up or why they were down, not because he didn't know the answer," says Berra. "It was his way of making sure you
knew the answer."
Shortly after arriving at the Tampa station in 2000, Stallworth overhauled its scattershot approach to community affairs. He targeted four community organizations from across the Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg market where he thought that the station could make the most impact.
"His game plan to focus on these specific groups showed that a concentrated focus on a few especially worthy non-profits can raise public awareness of organizations that could otherwise be lost in the shuffle," says WFTS Community Affairs Director Joy Petit.
Prior to his jobs in Tampa and Columbus, Stallworth served five years in New York as vice president of sales for the CBS-owned television stations.
Having earned a bachelor's degree in communications from the University of Alabama, Stallworth began his career in broadcast television in 1973 as an account executive and regional sales manager for ABC affiliate WXIA Atlanta. In 1977, he was named manager of spot sales for CBS and, in 1981, moved to Chicago, where he served for nine years as director of sales for CBS-owned WBBM.
Stallworth is survived by wife Shelley, two daughters and a son, his parents, and two granddaughters.