From covering local sports to big-time sports reporting to a show featuring her home state, Becky Dixon remains a big name on the small screen.
A swimsuit helped launch Becky Dixon’s television career.
Chris Lincoln, sports director at KTUL-TV and an early Dixon mentor, recalls the incident.
Dixon had created a couple of audition tapes for Tom Goodgame, then general manager of the station. Then she did one in a swimming pool.
“When she came up out of that pool, that was all he needed,” Lincoln says.
But, he adds, it was more than looks that propelled her.
“She had a great combination of love and passion for sports and was a bright young lady,” Lincoln says, although he adds, “being good-looking did not hurt.”
Dixon offers gratitude to Goodgame for being willing to take a chance on a woman sportscaster when there were virtually none in the nation.
“I don't think I ever worked for a better manager,” Dixon says.
Dixon did not train for television. At The University of Tulsa, she got a degree in education with a side concentration in journalism. She taught first grade for several years, but after the birth of her daughter, she felt it would be difficult to be both a mother and a teacher. She saw few opportunities and decided sports would be a good avenue, even though there were few women in that field.
At KTUL, she did all types of sports, but very little football.
The football episode began when she joined the ABC network in 1986. At the time ABC was the only service broadcasting college football. At first, Dixon did a halftime show, but then she began working the sidelines — when not co-hosting “Wide World of Sports” with Frank Gifford. She said they worked together until football season, when she went to the college sidelines and Gifford went to “Monday Night Football.
“I really enjoyed the sidelines because it included a little bit of everything,” she says.
Her first sideline assignment was the Oklahoma-Texas college football game, “so I was on very familiar territory,” she says.
It also sort of established her work style.
Brian Bosworth was a big story then, noted as much for his wild hairstyles as his ferocious Oklahoma linebacker play.
Dixon did a piece on his hairstylist, “but I also interviewed a little boy who had been hospitalized with an illness and Bosworth had befriended the boy and visited him in the hospital,” she says.
The next year she worked with Keith Jackson, Bob Griese, Lynn Swann, Gary Bender and Dick Vermeil.
Over the years she worked with many legendary football (and other sports) figures.
“I never had any negative reaction from any player or coach,” she says. “They all treated me with respect and were very accommodating.”
She singles out Lou Holtz, who coached at the University of Arkansas, the University of Notre Dame and other schools, as “being really great to work with.”
There were blips. Once at Indiana University, she was working with Bender and Vermeil. Typically the broadcasters went to dinner together the night before the game, but this time Bobby Knight was to join them. Vermeil said Knight asked that Dixon not go “because he didn’t want to have to watch his language around a woman.”
Dixon agreed but says Knight, whom she had met previously, had to give her a halftime interview the next day.
“Bobby did very few interviews at this time, but he did grant my request,” she says.
Dixon lived in New York when she first went to ABC, then moved to Los Angeles. But in 1990 “the travel and pressure of the network was just making it difficult on my children,” she says.
Their father was in Tulsa, so that’s where the family returned.
Becky and Richard Dixon met at TU and married in 1972. They divorced in 1986 but remained friends. Becky married again, to Patrick Keegan, in 1988.
Dixon’s children finished high school in Tulsa, daughter Jennifer at Bishop Kelley and son Dan at Cascia Hall. Jennifer now is in New York — “I couldn’t wait to leave New York; she couldn’t wait to get back,” Becky says — and works for Harper’s Bazaar. Dan is a futures trader in Chicago, where he attended graduate school at Northwestern University. He played football both at The University of Oklahoma and Northwestern University.
She began her “Oklahomans” show after returning to Tulsa, again working with Lincoln, who then was with Winnercom, a firm he helped start. Then she shifted a bit again, moving to Taylor Communications with Ed Taylor, a pioneer in television.
Together they did the first live webcast — a broadcast over the Internet — of a Harvard University medical conference, with Becky hosting. Now she is president of Taylor Communications, which operates in a number of communications areas, including an Onhold division with 7,000 clients.
This fall will mark the end of her “Oklahomans” show, but not her work.
As she looks ahead, Becky Dixon hopes “to inspire young Oklahomans and show they can do what they want to do if they work hard enough,” she says.
She is a prime example.