The first television image Clayton Vaughn ever saw came flickering onto a set that sat in his father’s appliance store in Cushing, Oklahoma in 1949. The grainy pictures were being beamed across the plains from Tulsa’s KOTV, northeastern Oklahoma’s first television station. No one could have known then, how the fates would conspire to bring Clayton and KOTV together for a 35 year run of solid journalism, community service and the power of television to make the state a better place to live.
After stints at radio stations in Cushing and Tulsa, Clayton made the jump to television in 1964. Broadcast news in Tulsa was just coming into its own, and Clayton’s reporting and anchoring soon made his a household name in northeastern Oklahoma. News executives in larger cities took note and Clayton left for anchoring stints at KABC (Los Angeles) and WNEY (New York Public Television). But, he always found his way back to Tulsa. Clayton Vaughn was, first and foremost, a journalist from the old school. As KOTV’s news director in the 1970’s, he put together Tulsa’s first hour-long evening news program. Over the course of 35 years, he grew to be known as “The Dean of Tulsa Television”, and he used that influence to not only further the craft of television, but to better the community he loves. He maintained a mentoring program in the KOTV newsroom, coaching young producers and reporters in the skills he felt important. Clayton took his lessons to Tulsa’s Booker T. Washington High School where he taught lessons on broadcasting. He seemed to figure he ought to be catching the mistakes and encouraging the dreams a little earlier. He quietly worked on preserving Tulsa’s history with his tireless efforts for the county’s historical society. He was instrumental in preserving hours of old KOTV film footage a seeing to it that it was handed over to the society for safe keeping. With the public trust and confidence he built over the years, Clayton also served the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries Racism Task Force, Hospice of Green County and Leadership Tulsa, which grooms young people for leadership roles in the region’s businesses and industries.