Ray Cole, age 67, is a lifelong television broadcaster whose executive career spans five decades. He has held a variety of management positions with Citadel Communications LLC since 1985, and has served as its president and chief operating officer since 1992. Citadel continues to own and operate WSNN-LD (Independent News) in Sarasota, FL. Prior to their sale in recent years, Cole was responsible for the oversight of WOI-TV (ABC) in Des Moines, IA; KCAU-TV (ABC) in Sioux City, IA; WHBF-TV (CBS) in Rock Island, IL; KLKN-TV(ABC) in Lincoln, NE and WLNE-TV (ABC) in Providence, RI.
Ray has held a variety of broadcasting industry leadership positions including service on the boards of the National Association of Broadcasters, the Television Bureau of Advertising, and the ABC Television Affiliates Association. He served as chairman of the ABC board of governors from 2006-08, and continued in a chairman emeritus capacity until 2019. Ray also served on the board of the Iowa Broadcasters Association, and was recognized by that organization as “Iowa Broadcaster of the Year” in 2008 and was inducted into the Iowa Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2015. He currently serves on the board and executive committee of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, and was honored with their ‘Leadership Award’ in 2016 for “service to the broadcasting industry and community at large.”
In October 2021, Ray wrote and published "Hangin' with Winners: A Lifetime of Connections, Anecdotes and Lessons Learned." The book was featured on Good Morning America, The View, the Tamron Hall Show, ESPN and the Jimmy Kimmel Book Club. The net proceeds were contributed to a few of the "winning" organizations mentioned throughout the book including The V Foundation, the Broadcasters Foundation of America, Variety - the Children's Charity of Iowa, Blank Children's Hospital (with its connection to the legendary Walt Disney dating back 75+ years) and the CHARACTER COUNTS! program at the Robert D Ray and Billie Ray Center.
An Iowa native, Ray’s service to the broadcasting industry has long been matched by his deep involvement in, and contributions to, local communities and the state. While living in Sioux City, he served as chairman of the boards of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce and Siouxland Initiative. He also sat on the boards of United Way of Siouxland, Ronald McDonald House and Briar Cliff University. Since moving to Des Moines in 1994, Ray has served on the boards of the Principal Charity Classic, Iowa Hall of Pride, Partnership for a Drug-Free Iowa, Rock in Prevention and the 2017 Solheim Cup Tournament. He served as honorary chair of the 2012 Variety - the Children’s Charity telethon, the 2013 Easter Seals Camp Sunnyside Raft Regatta, the All-Star Evening to benefit Character Counts! in both 2014 and 2022, the 2019 Blank Children’s Hospital Festival of Trees & Lights, and hosted the Coaches vs Cancer Gala alongside the state’s four Division I basketball coaches in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Ray was the honorary chair of the 2021 Broadcasters Foundation of America Celebrity Golf Tournament at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, NY.
A 1977 graduate of Briar Cliff University, Ray was recognized as the school’s “Distinguished Alumnus of the Year” in 2006 and honored at their 2021 commencement ceremony with the “Presidential Distinguished Leadership Award.” He was recognized as a “Father of the Year” in 2013 by the Iowa Chapter of the American Diabetes Association. In 2019, Ray was presented the “Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award” from the Governor Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University.
Ray and his wife, Susan, have three children and five grandchildren.