Thomas H. Draper, media pioneer
When Tom Draper left his hometown of Milford during the 1954 desegregation crisis, few expected him to return. But return he did in 1966 to begin building what would become the most dominant television media group on the lower Delmarva Peninsula and one of the most successful television groups in the United States. WBOC-TV, under Tom Draper’s leadership, became the first television station on the Delmarva Peninsula to use electronic remote cameras, the first to provide five local news broadcasts daily, the first to deploy satellite trucks for remote broadcasting, the first to use a helicopter for local news and the first to use high-definition television. Today WBOC-TV, with over 160,000 viewing households, together with its sister station Fox21 and Draper Digital Media, an interactive company that includes wboc.com, fox21delmarva.com and DelmarvaLife.com, have become a lifeline to lower Delaware residents for their local news and community events. Along the way, Tom Draper has found time to become a leader in farmland preservation and provide major support for local organizations, including the Delmarva Christian High School.