TV Executive 1st Black Member at Augusta

Ron Townsend, president of Gannett Television Group, has become the first black applicant accepted for membership in the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club, the golf club confirmed Tuesday.

An announcement from Gannett said Townsend has direct responsibility for six of the company’s television stations.

Townsend, 48, was director of field services for the Children’s Television Workshop and was involved in the children’s programs, “Sesame Street” and “Electric Company.” He became station manager of WTOP-TV in Washington in 1978 and held that job until being named to his present post in May, 1989.

Earlier this summer, there was a great deal of controversy over the exclusionary membership policies of Shoal Creek Country Club, the site of last month’s PGA Championship.


The club admitted a black member after the outcry.

Civil rights leaders in Georgia had announced plans to protest next spring’s Masters if Augusta National, all-white since its founding by golfer Bobby Jones in 1932, was not integrated.