Tina Tate

Tina Tate Image courtesy of Tina Tate, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
“Oh, the director has quite a bit more responsibility. All the logistics planning for the events that we do is really up to you to set the tone for it—you arrange which staff is responsible for which part of it. You have to work with the networks on anything that’s a major event, like the State of the Union, which is an annual event, and you not only do the State of the Union, but you have to do the Democratic response or the Republican response. And the Statuary Hall setup for the react for Members of Congress. So it’s a good two weeks’ worth of work, and you’re the one who is assigning everyone to their specific task, but you’re ultimately responsible for all of it.”

— Tina Tate, July 12, 2007

 

Abstract & Transcript

Tina Tate’s recollections of her 34-year career in the House Radio-TV Gallery provide an invaluable window into the daily routine of a long-standing House institution. Created in 1939, the House Radio Gallery expanded to admit TV broadcasters in 1953. As only the third director in the gallery’s history, Tate witnessed major changes during her tenure, notably, rapid technological advancements in media broadcasting and the growing influence of television. Tate’s detailed account underscores her role as mediator between the House Leadership, which was determined to maintain the chamber’s decorum and rules, and broadcasters demanding access to cover important media events. The topics discussed in these interviews range from the House Radio-TV Gallery’s role in the coverage of Joint Sessions to major occurrences, including the 1998 shooting at the Capitol, two impeachments, and the House on September 11, 2001.

Biography

Ruth (Tina) Tate was born on September 5, 1944, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Clifford Holmes McGaughey, Sr., the owner of a sporting goods store, and Mary Elizabeth Barnes, a homemaker. After earning an A.A. degree from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, Tate graduated from Emory College in Atlanta with a B.A. in history. In 1966 she married Danny Clyde Tate, a lawyer; the couple raised one child, Daniel Clyde Tate, Jr. Tina Tate worked at the University of Georgia libraries while her husband was in law school and later took a job as a receptionist in Atlanta with Merrill Lynch, transferring to Washington, D.C., in September 1969, when her husband accepted a position with Georgia Senator Herman Talmadge. After working as an office manager at Cox Broadcasting from 1970 to 1972, Tate joined the House Radio-TV Gallery on July 15, 1972.

The first woman employed in the House Radio-TV Gallery, Tate served as an assistant superintendent for nine years before being promoted to director in October 1981. As director, Tate oversaw the daily operations of the House Radio-TV Gallery, where she facilitated coverage of House proceedings for radio and TV broadcasters. Her duties encompassed standard tasks, such as supervising the daily log of House proceedings for reporters, as well as more-complex responsibilities like coordinating radio and TV coverage of major media events such as Joint Sessions and Lying in State ceremonies. Tate also participated in national political conventions that spanned nearly two decades, credentialing broadcasters and allocating sky box, standup, and radio positions. Throughout her career, Tate strove to balance the needs of the gallery’s radio and TV broadcasters with the rules and traditions of the House.

Tate retired from the House on May 31, 2007. She served as the director of media relations at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., from July 2007 to July 2009. Tate and her husband reside in Washington, D.C.

Video

Background on Speaker's Press Conferences

Detailed history of the Speaker’s Press Conferences and ways in which the House Radio-TV Gallery assisted broadcasters in their coverage of Congress.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded December 4, 2009 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Members, Press, and the Radio-TV Gallery

Explanation of the role of the House Radio-TV Gallery in helping to keep the American public informed about the work of Congress.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded December 4, 2009 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Opening Day Traditions of a New Congress

Institutional role of the House Radio-TV Gallery in broadcasting the Opening Day of a new Congress.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded December 4, 2009 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Press Conferences in Statuary Hall after the State of the Union Address

Historical background on the technical requirements and logistical operations for the television coverage of Members’ responses in Statuary Hall following the State of the Union Address.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded December 4, 2009 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Return to the Capitol on September 11, 2001

Eyewitness account of the informal and symbolic gathering of Members of Congress on the Capitol steps in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded December 4, 2009 Deed of Gift

Role of the House Radio-TV Gallery

Overview of the role of the House Radio-TV Gallery at the State of the Union address.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded December 4, 2009 Deed of Gift

Coming Together

Recollections of the press conference at the Capitol the evening of September 11th.

Tina Tate, Director, House of Representatives Radio/TV Gallery
Interview recorded December 4, 2009 Deed of Gift

Audio

"Musical Desks" in the House Radio-TV Gallery

Description of the physical space of the House Radio-TV Gallery before the 1988 renovation.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded June 28, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Close Relationship Between the House Radio-TV Gallery and the House Parliamentarians

Insight on the relationship between the House Radio-TV Gallery and the House Parliamentarians, as well as the growing volume of information about the House available to staff and the press.

Tina Tate, Directory, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded July 12, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Effect of Televised Proceedings on the Reporting of Congress

Overview of the impact of live televised House proceedings on the reporting of Congress.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded August 28, 2008 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

House Radio-TV Superintendents

Recollections of the first two superintendents of the House Radio-TV Gallery.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded June 28, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Live TV and its Impact on the House Radio-TV Gallery

Detailed explanation of how the evolution of the 24-hour news cycle changed the day-to-day operations of the House Radio-TV Gallery.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded August 28, 2008 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

The House Radio-TV Gallery

Overview of the responsibilities of the House Radio-TV Gallery during the 1970s and 1980s.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded June 28, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Logistical Arrangements

Overview of the media coverage during the House hearings on Watergate.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded July 1, 2008 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Effect of Watergate on Press Coverage

Reflections on changes to committee press coverage following the Watergate hearings.

Tina Tate, Director, Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. House of Representatives
Interview recorded July 12, 2007 Deed of Gift
Transcript (PDF)

Images & Artifacts

House Radio Gallery Opening, 1939
<em>House Radio Gallery Opening, 1939</em>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_tate_gallery_opening.xml
On July 24th, 1939, Speaker of the House William Bankhead of Alabama presented the keys to the new House Radio Gallery to Fulton Lewis, president of the Radio Correspondents’ Association, accompanied Senator William Warren Barbour of New Jersey and Representative John J. Dempsey of New Mexico.
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress
Tina Tate at a National Convention
<em>Tina Tate at a National Convention</em>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_tate_convention.xml
For many decades, the House Radio-TV Gallery has played a major role coordinating media coverage at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions. In this image, Tina Tate works at one of the national conventions.
Image courtesy of Tina Tate, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Tina Tate in the Radio-TV Gallery Office
<em>Tina Tate in the Radio-TV Gallery Office</em>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_tate_michaelson.xml
The House Radio-TV Gallery staff in the 1970s featuring Tina Tate (far left) and Mike Michaelson (second from right), the second superintendent of the gallery.
Image courtesy of Tina Tate, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Resolution to Create House Radio Gallery, 1939
<em>Resolution to Create House Radio Gallery, 1939</em>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_tate_resolution.xml
On April 20, 1939, the House approved House Resolution 169 authorizing the creation of the House Radio Gallery, signed by Clerk of the House South Trimble.
House Resolution No. 169, 79th Congress, 1st Session, image courtesy of the House Radio-TV Gallery, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Tina Tate in Cannon House Office Building Rotunda, 1995
<em>Tina Tate in Cannon House Office Building Rotunda, 1995</em>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_tate_cannon_rotunda.xml
Tina Tate became Director of the Radio-TV Gallery in October 1981. In this 1995 image, Tate stands in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building.
Image courtesy of Tina Tate, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Tina Tate in the Radio-TV Gallery Offices
<em>Tina Tate in the Radio-TV Gallery Offices</em>/tiles/non-collection/o/oh_tate_office.xml
Thinking back on her early days in the gallery, Tina Tate recalls, “When we were first there in the ’70s, before we renovated, there wasn’t even an individual desk for each person…it was musical desks. If anybody left, you got up; there were three desks and four people, so you would just have to find a place to sit.”
Image courtesy of Tina Tate, provided by the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives