Lear, Clyde - Retired Chairman & CEO of Lear Communications
Clyde Lear is the retired Chairman and CEO of Learfield Communications, Inc. a company he started in 1972 as an outgrowth of his master’s project at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Learfield Sports is the preeminent leader in the collegiate sports marketing arena boasting a rich history dating back to 1975. Today Learfield is the exclusive provider of marketing services for athletic departments at 54 major institutions, including the likes of MU, UNC, Stanford, Indiana, Wisconsin, OU, Miami, and Clemson. Learfield also markets for the Black Coaches and Administrators (BCA) and spearheads corporate partner platforms for the Big Ten Conference and the Western Athletic Conference.
Annually the Company awards the athletic programs that achieve high performance with the coveted Learfield Sports Directors Cup in partnership with USA Today and the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. NACDA
The Jefferson City-based company has offices in 75 cities around the nation.
The company owns the nation’s largest agricultural radio network, the Brownfield Network; five state news networks: the Missourinet, Radio Iowa, the Wisconsin Radio Network, South Carolina News Network and the Nebraska News Network.
”I grew up in Jefferson City and was fascinated by the news that came out of the Capital—state agencies, courts, the governor’s office and the legislature. But because of its relatively small size, only the wire services covered these sources. The voices of the news-makers weren’t covered by radio or television.” Lear says, “So that was the impetus for starting the Missourinet,” he continues, “and it through its 70 affiliate radio stations, the network keeps all corners of Missouri connected; It’s truly the only state-wide media.” He won an honor medal in Journalism from Missouri for his Missourinet; the award describing it as a strong, valuable, source of information for all Missourians. And the Missourinet continues to win accolades, including the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for distinguished broadcast journalism.
“In those years the programs were distributed to the affiliate radio stations by 24-hour leased telephone circuits,” Lear explains as to how he got involved in college sports: “so I concocted a business deal with the University of Missouri to sub-lease my circuits to them on Saturday afternoons and that’s how I backed into this sports business.”
For competitive reasons, the company changed from a radio company to a marketing company in the mid-1980s. It now exclusively handles stadium and arena signage, game day activities with advertisers, game program printing and sales, corporate hospitality and—in many venues—food and beverage sales.
Lear received a Masters degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Missouri in 1968 and an AB degree in 1966 from Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri. He attended high school in Jefferson City where he was born in 1944.
Lear is a leader in higher education. For 13 years he served on the Board of Curators of Central Methodist University and for five years was its Chair. He is a member of the 1992 Class of Distinguished Alumni from the University of Missouri, an award that highlighted his significant contribution to media in the state.
Lear, along with his wife, Sue, has worked tirelessly for young people across Missouri. In Jefferson City they helped other volunteers in bringing the faith-based organization Young Life to three local high schools and then to Columbia area high schools. Having served as chair for many years, they continue as committee members today. As a contribution to the state, he has been central to the annual Governor’s Student Leadership Forum on Faith and Values—now in its 25st year, beginning in 1987. That three-day event scheduled around the Missouri Governor’s Prayer Breakfast each January, brings college juniors from each of Missouri’s four-year colleges and universities to Jefferson City to consider leadership from a different perspective: servant leadership, using the person of Jesus as an example. Each Governor since 1987 has thrown himself into this ecumenical, non-dogmatic effort that has had significant impact in these young lives.
Sue and Clyde have three grown children and five grandchildren.
His greatest love is mentoring. He and Sue use the company and other opportunities as platforms to develop outstanding executives and leaders. He gives significant time to helping college age—and post college age--men and women grow personally and professionally.