Delaware television station operator and broadcast pioneer Thomas Draper has died of injuries suffered in a truck-bicycle accident. He was 76.
Draper’s television station WBOC, Salisbury, MD, announced his passing, which came after he was seriously injured Thursday morning after a pickup driven by Lewes man struck his bicycle.
The accident occurred while the bike ridden by Draper and the vehicle were traveling eastbound on Slaughter Beach Road near Milford, State Police reported.
Draper was initially transported to Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital before being airlifted to Baltimore Shock Trauma.
A native of Milford and a member of a family that settled in southern Delaware in the late 1600s, the Brown University graduate built a formidable broadcast presence on the Delmarva Peninsula by first buying a radio station in Milford
In the early 1980s, he bought WBOC-TV, a CBS-TV affiliate from the company that owned the Baltimore Sun newspaper. According to a company history, the purchase was considered to be risky at a time of high interest.
Draper did not forget Delaware and the Eastern Shore after acquiring the station. He took advantage of the fact that Delaware does not have its own TV station and came with a fractured Eastern Shore print media landscape that never had a dominant player.
While its operations are centered in Salisbury, MD, WBOC operates offices in Milton and Dover with broadcast and sales staff. The company later launched a Fox affiliate as a way to broaden its offerings
WBOC, armed with a news operation that “punched above its weight” in covering the Delmarva Peninsula, built an advertising audience that helped grow regional businesses in areas such as automobiles and furniture sales.
The station also has big market features such as a news helicopter that allowed it to better cover a large area extending from central Delaware into Virginia.
Draper resisted the urge to add out-of-the-region radio and TV stations to his holdings but did re-enter the radio business fairly recently with the purchase of an Eastern Shore station. The Draper family also has real state holdings in Delaware and Maryland as well as a digital media operation.
The Draper family also has real estate holdings in Delaware and Maryland.
A pioneer in providing Internet service, Draper sold that operation a few years ago as the industry moved to broadband service that requires cable access.
Draper was known for his support of conservative causes, as well as his efforts in wildlife conservation.