Pioneers Visit IU Media School
An August 23 trip to Bloomington gave a group of Indiana Broadcast Pioneers a look at the technical facilities of the Indiana University Media School housed in Franklin Hall. The School is the result of the merger of telecommunications and journalism departments on campus. Pictures courtesy of Chuck Schisla.
Veteran Indiana Broadcasters to be Inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Richard M. Fairbanks Hall of Fame
Carmel, Ind. – June 11, 2018 – Four long-time Hoosier broadcasters will be inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Richard M. Fairbanks Hall of Fame in November. The Indiana Broadcasters Association today announced the 2018 class that includes TV reporter Norm Cox, radio host Bernie Eagan, radio host and general manager Al Hobbs, and TV host, reporter and producer Patty Spitler.
“We look forward to celebrating the unique careers of these legendary Hoosier broadcasters,” said IBA Executive Director Dave Arland. “The diverse 2018 class is made up of TV and radio personalities who served as voices of and for their communities for decades helping to inform and entertain the state in their own, unique ways. With the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers, we are proud to honor Norm, Bernie, Al and Patty this year.”
The 2018 Hall of Fame class will be inducted on Thursday, November 1st at lunch during the annual Indiana Broadcasters Conference in Carmel.
Norman Cox began as the Indiana Statehouse reporter at WRTV-6 Indianapolis in 1976. During that time, he covered seven governors from Otis Bowen to Mike Pence. He retired in November of 2013 after a 36-year career.
A two-time Emmy award winner, Norm also has received awards for excellence from The Associated Press, United Press International, Society of Professional Journalists and the Indianapolis Press Club.
Before coming to Indianapolis, Norm also worked for WTOL-TV Toledo, Ohio and has a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Journalism from The Ohio State University.
Beech Grove-native Bernie Eagan was born blind, but he didn’t let that stop him from pursuing a love of music and entertainment. After graduating from the Indiana School for the Blind in 1975, Bernie went on to Ball State University where he graduated with a degree in Radio and Television Communications. He then accepted a position as a Programming Consultant at WWHC-FM (now WMXQ-FM) Hartford City and was hired part time by WERK-AM Muncie.
In July 1981, Bernie began working at Emmis Communications, specifically with WENS (now WLHK-FM) Indianapolis eventually becoming Music Director and Assistant Program Director along with hosting the afternoon drive from 1984 – 2002. He also hosted Friday Night Retro Show from 1999-2002, and mornings on B105.7 from 2002 to 2010.
Since 2010, Bernie has hosted afternoons on WYXB-FM Indianapolis.
An Alabama native, who later moved to Kentucky, Al Hobbs left a career in the grocery business when he was lured to join WTLC-FM Indianapolis in its early days by then General Manager Tom Mathis. Al quickly rose through the ranks becoming Sales Manager in 1974 and then General Manager in 1976.
Al’s Sunday afternoons “The Love Train” gospel music program garnered huge ratings and exposed generations to quality Black gospel music. For a quarter century, Al helped grow WTLC-FM in the major force in Indianapolis and Indiana broadcasting and as one of the country’s pioneering Black Radio stations. WTLC-FM achieved rating success and audience dominance under his leadership.
In 2012, Al’s award-winning gospel music shows returned to the Indianapolis airwaves on WITT-FM Indianapolis. Hobbs passed away in 2014.
Emmy Award-winner Patty Spitler, host, reporter and producer for “Pet Pals TV” and “Great Day TV,” has had a 42-year career in radio and TV broadcasting. Patty came to Indianapolis in 1982 to co-host “Indianapolis Afternoon” with Dick Wolfsie on WISH-TV Indianapolis, and eventually presented the weather and was a noon news anchor. She retired from WISH in 2004.
In 2009, she was approached by a producer to join “Pet Pals TV,” which now airs not only on WISH-TV, but also on 23 stations nationwide. The program focuses on the relationship between animals and humans.
Patty is currently host of “Great Day TV’ on WISH-TV Indianapolis presenting stories about interesting topics and intriguing people.
Veteran Indiana Broadcasters Jack Rinehart, Joe McConnell, Ken Speck, and Steve Starnes Inducted into Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Richard M. Fairbanks Hall of Fame
Carmel, Ind. – November 3, 2017 – Four Hoosier broadcasting legends were today inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. The Indiana Broadcasters Association today announced the 2017 class which includes sportscaster Joe McConnell, TV reporter Jack Rinehart, radio personality Ken Speck, and TV videographer Steve Starnes.
“This distinguished group of broadcasters represents the best our industry has to offer, not just for Indiana, but nationally. Joe, Jack, Ken, and Steve join more than 170 other broadcasters in the Hall of Fame and we were pleased to recognize their careers at our annual conference, said IBA executive Director Dave Arland.
TV Reporter Jack Rinehart
For more than 40 years Jack Rinehart has worked as a senior reporter at WRTV in Indianapolis. During his four decades on-air Jack broke thousands of stories, covered hundreds of exclusives, and established himself as one of the most trusted reporters in the market.
His career highlights include an Emmy Award, Associated Press awards, a CASPER Award, and he was named a “Sagamore of the Wabash,” by Indiana Governor Robert Orr.
Jack was born and grew up in South Bend, Indiana. He graduated from Bradley University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in Speech. While still in college, Jack started working as a reporter at WRAU-TV (now known as WHOI) in Peoria, Illinois. He later became an Investigative Reporter and Weekend Anchor at WRAU before coming to WRTV on November 10, 1975.
Sportscaster Joe McConnell
There are few major sporting events that Goodland, Indiana, native Joe McConnell didn’t cover in his 40-year career.
Not only did he call three Super Bowls, the NBA Championship series, the NBA All-Star Game, and the American League Championship Series, but he was the voice of multiple professional and college teams that include the hometown Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Pacers, and college athletics at Indiana State, Notre Dame, and Purdue.
A graduate of Franklin College, Joe is five-time winner of the AP/UPI Sportscaster of the Year and has been named Sportscaster of the Year in both Indiana (2000) and Illinois (1981). Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels named Joe a “Sagamore of the Wabash” upon his retirement from Purdue in 2009.
Radio Personality Ken Speck
Ken Speck served as an on-air personality at WIRE Radio in Indianapolis from 1970 to 1985 before moving to WKPM in Seattle where he helped take the station from number 42 in the market to number one within five months.
During Ken’s time at WIRE the station received numerous Station of the Year awards. Arbitron ranked Ken number one in his time slot for years.
Ken’s radio work began in Ohio in 1955 at Kent State University’s WKSU and then WAND, WCMW, and WCNS. His early years included working at WCAR in Detroit and as program director at WSLR in Akron. There, his station was ranked number one in Billboard Magazine’s radio response rating.
Ken’s tireless charity and fundraising work for many groups resulted in numerous awards including the CASPER Award from the Central Indiana Community Service Council.
Videographer Steve Starnes
For more than 30 years Steve Starnes worked as a photographer for WTHR in Indianapolis. One of his crowning achievements came in 1982 when he worked on a documentary about the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. The program earned a myriad of national and international awards, including a national Emmy award.
Steve began his career at the age of 19 at WGEM, the NBC affiliate in his hometown of Quincy, Illinois. He spent ten years there but moved on to WTHR when a reporter from Quincy submitted a resume tape and the news director asked “Who’s your photographer? Have him call me.” The reporter didn’t get the job, but Steve did.
Steve’s career behind the cameras took him all over the world, traveling from Afghanistan and Albania to Africa, before he retired in 2009.
Fort Wayne Hall of Famer Bob Chase Dead at 90; Long-Time WOWO, Komets Broadcaster
By Blake Sebring, The News-Sentinel – Nov 24, 2016 – Longtime WOWO Sports Director and Fort Wayne Komets broadcaster Bob Chase died early Thursday morning at Parkview Hospital at age 90. As reported in a News-Sentinel story in October, Chase had been battling congestive heart failure for several months.
Perhaps no one in Fort Wayne history did more to promote the city, just as it’s possible no one has ever introduced hockey to more new fans or caused more to love it. Chase’s voice was known to generations across the country and throughout several countries during his 63-year tenure with WOWO and the Komets.
Throughout the 1950s and much of the 1960s, Chase’s broadcast on WOWO was the only one throughout the International Hockey League and the only hockey broadcast throughout much of the rest of the country. Today there are millions of hockey fans because Bob Chase introduced their fathers, grandfathers and maybe even great-grandfathers to the game. “I think Bob’s listeners realize he’s not just broadcasting the game, but he’s a conduit between the fans and the players,” said NBC Feature Producer David Picker while doing a piece on Chase in February. “The fact is that Bob is an incredible part of the game.”
Born Jan. 22, 1926, in Negaunee, Mich., Chase’s actual name was Robert Donald Wallenstein. However, when he came to Fort Wayne in June 1953, WOWO Program Manager Guy Harris thought Wallenstein was too long. He changed his last name to Chase, his wife Murph’s maiden name. Her father, who was blessed with five daughters but no sons, loved it. Because he served four years in the United States Navy and then spent four years studying at Northern Michigan University, Chase was 27 when he came to Fort Wayne. He started as a co-announcer of Komets games with Ernie Ashley, and then took over sole duties in 1954.This would have been his 64th season with the Komets. The team added his name to the franchise’s retired honorees banner at his 40th anniversary in 1992, and honored him again for his 50th year in 2002 and his 60th in 2012.
He received countless awards during his career, highlighted by the Lester Patrick Award from USA Hockey and the National Hockey League in 2012 for service to the sport in the United States. That year he was also given a key to the city by Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and was inducted into the Northern Michigan University Hall of Fame. He was also named a Sagamore of the Wabash in 2001 and was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Indiana Broadcasters Association’s Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame Award in 2000. He was also named ECHL Broadcaster of the Year after the 2013-14 season, adding to similar honors from the International Hockey League, the United Hockey League and Central Hockey League.
During his career with WOWO, Chase interviewed such people as Elvis, the Beatles, Jim Brown, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Vice President Nixon, Gordie Howe, Arnie Palmer. His interview with Elvis is part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. During his tenure, the Komets have gone through five sets of owners, 25 coaches, more than 1,000 players and 70 different opposing teams. Of the Komets’ 532 playoff games during their 64-year history, Chase has called 526 of them. Of the Komets’ 4,890 regular-season games, Chase has likely called around 4,500 of those. Until the Komets left the International Hockey League in 1999, Chase had broadcast every all-star game the league had ever played. Until a heart ailment and quadruple bypass surgery slowed him down in 1998, he had broadcast all 351 playoff games the team had ever played, including nine cup-winning championships. He called his 500th Komets playoff game on April 18, 2015. It’s unlikely more than a handful of announcers have called 500 playoff games in any sport, let alone with one team.
Besides broadcasting hockey, Chase announced high school basketball for 17 years, also broadcast Big Ten football for 10 years and covered the Indianapolis 500 for 25 years. From 1954 to 1967 he hosted “The Bob Chase Show” Monday through Friday afternoons on WOWO. In 2000, Chase was nominated for the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. hockey, always being there for the players and their families.”
Wallenstein is survived by his wife of 66 years, Murph; daughter Karin; and sons Mike, Kurt and Dave. There are eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Services are pending.
Note: Starting at 11am today (Nov 24) WOWO 1190 will air a tribute to the life of Bob Chase. It will run continuously throughout the day.
Five Inducted into Richard M. Fairbanks Hall of Fame
The Indiana Broadcasters Association inducted five new members into its Richard M. Fairbanks Hall of Fame at the 2016 HOF/Spectrum Awards Luncheon November 17 in Carmel. Brad Byrd, Tom Griswold, Bob Kevoian, Ed Roehling, and Bill Shirk were featured in video profiles and interviewed on stage in front of more than 300 attendees.
“We are honored to welcome these five legendary broadcasters into the Fairbanks Hall of Fame,” said IBA executive director, Dave Arland. “Our Hall of Fame recipients represent the best in the business and have served as stewards of information and entertainment in our communities for many years. Along with the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers, this year’s class of Hall of Fame winners represent the best of Indiana’s long history in radio and TV broadcasting.”
The latest award winning Hall of Fame Indiana broadcasters include:
Brad Byrd, lead anchor and managing editor for WEHT (ABC) and WTVW (CW) in Evansville. The first Tri-State broadcaster elected to the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle Hall of Fame, Brad Byrd is now in his 39th year as Lead News Anchor for Eyewitness News. Among his honors are Emmy, Edward R. Murrow, AP and SPJ awards.
Byrd co-anchors Eyewitness News at 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10 pm. He’s covered stories in Eastern Europe, Washington D.C., New York City, the Gulf Coast and other U.S. locations with Tri-State links. He has received the Ball State University Telecommunications Distinguished Alumnus Award. The National Easter Seals Society Consistent Best Telethon Host award Evansville Courier & Press Best Community Volunteer and News Personality awards.
Byrd is a former president of the local American Heart Association Board. He co-founded Cruising for Hearts, a major fundraiser with his wife, TJ. For that effort, Byrd and TJ received the AHA’s Heart of Life award. He was honored with the United Way’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with several Tri-state charities. Byrd eventually took his experience to the classroom: teaching broadcast courses at the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana.
Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold began their on-air partnership in 1981, hosting mornings in Michigan at WJML, Petoskey. In 1983, they joined WFBQ-FM, Indianapolis as the station’s morning team. Once there, The Bob & Tom Show became the city’s top-rated morning show.
The Bob & Tom Show has offered an unpredictable blend of news from Kristi Lee, sports from Chick McGee, talk, celebrity guests, in-studio musical performances, sketch comedy and topical, sometimes irreverent, humor. The show routinely features original comedy songs and a cast of recurring characters. The Bob & Tom Show is recognized for giving national exposure to young and developing comedians (including George Lopez, Brad Garrett, Tim Allen and Rodney Carrington) and the show continues to promote the nation’s best comedians through the popular Friends of the Bob & Tom Show Comedy Tour. In 1995, The Bob & Tom Show began national syndication. The show has been heard on more than 400 stations nationwide and The American Forces Radio Network. The show has won over twenty major industry awards, including five Marconi Awards from The National Association of Broadcasters and the show has released more than 60 comedy albums.
Ed Roehling always wanted to be a broadcaster and received his degree from Butler University in Communications. In his mid twenties, he organized a group of investors to put a station in Winchester, Ind., on the air. He went onto manage radio stations in Minnesota and Michigan before returning to Indiana.
In 1971, Roehling and a group of local investors were delighted when the FCC finally granted the license they had applied for in Rushville, Indiana. He and his wife Sandy made it into a true hometown station, that received many awards for its service to the community. During this time, he also was able to get WWWY on the air in Columbus, Indiana.
He also served as a professor for the communications program at Indiana Central College (now University of Indianapolis) and served as general manager for the public radio station on campus, WICR-FM, for 20 years.
Roehling was vice president for Hoosier Broadcasting for ten years, a company that owned three educational stations licensed to Cloverdale/Indianapolis, Lebanon, and Greencastle/Indianapolis. Roehling is now the president and Broker of Roehling Broadcast Services, Ltd., which serves the radio broadcast industry with appraisal, brokerage, and consulting services for individual and company acquisitions and sales of broadcast properties. The company also consults in the areas of management, sales, negotiations, and marketing in the broadcast and other industries.
Bill Shirk graduated from Ball State in 1967 with a degree in education and initially worked as a repairman and as an account executive for his Dad’s advertising agency. He taught a year of middle school in 1965 then talked his dad and mother into applying for the license for WERK Muncie. They receive the license and Shirk’s parents wanted him to start at the bottom, so he began at WERK as the janitor. A year later, he became a weekend DJ at WERK and by 1968 not only became WERK’s station manager, but also served as sales manager, program director, production manager and remained as a DJ in the afternoons.
Throughout the next three decades, Shirk went on to own, general manage, program and serve as an air personality on ten radio stations and two TV stations in Muncie, Indianapolis, Greenwood, Greencastle, Cloverdale and Lebanon. A member of The Garden United Methodist Church, in 1983 Shirk was the executive producer and starred in “The Escapist” the first motion picture ever produced in the state of Indiana before the film commission was established in Indiana.
He is also a published author having written “Modern Day Houdini.” Bill Shirk was the number one Escape Artist in the World, in the 1970s, 1980s & 1990s, setting eight Guinness Book of World records from fastest escape from Strait Jacket 1.68 seconds to a World Record Jail Break. Through his escapes, Shirk has raised thousands of dollars for underprivileged and handicapped children and adults throughout Central Indiana. This work has been recognized with various awards including the Crossroads Business Award, Variety Club of Indianapolis Human Achievement Award, and the Indianapolis Northwest Lions Club Special Award, among others.
He now owns 12 radio stations in Hawaii and does mornings on the oldies station in Honolulu.
Share Your Memories on Facebook
Lots of present and past Indiana broadcasters, as well as listeners and viewers, are enjoying our new page on Facebook. It’s a great place for exchanging memories and photos. In the most recent month the page reached 9,450 people! Check us out and join the conversation at Indiana Broadcast Pioneers.
Indiana Broadcast Pioneers induct Florea, Hodge and Kellman into Hall of Fame in 2015
The Indiana Broadcast Pioneers, working in conjunction with the Indiana Broadcasters Association (IBA) Board of Directors, selected Dick Florea, Janie Woods Hodge and Howard Kellman for 2015 induction into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. The annual Spectrum/Hall of Fame awards program was held November 14 in Indianapolis at the Marriott North attended by 360.
Dick Florea had a thirty-five (35) year career at WKJG-TV, Ft. Wayne, where he served from 1966 until his retirement in 2001. Prior to those years, Dick worked at WMRI radio and WTAF-TV in Marion, Indiana. While at WKJG, Dick served as News Director and Anchorman, Public Affairs and Community Relations Director, and host of the daily interview show “Editor’s Desk.” He shared the broadcast desk with legendary Indiana sportscaster and station manager Hilliard Gates.
Dick’s impressive on-air following included a broad demographic of viewers who made a point of watching The News with Dick Florea daily. Fort Wayne regional viewers knew when they tuned in a Dick Florea newscast, the stories would be well-researched, and accurately reported, without spin. His delivery was low-key and straight forward, without a hint of pomposity. This mirrored his off-air demeanor of gracious humility.
His presence was familiar out in the community, as well as on-air, where he was (and is) heavily involved with civic organizations. He donated hundreds of hours to Habitat for Humanity, served nine years as president, and in retirement was named Director Emeritus of the Fort Wayne affiliate. He produced and hosted the community teacher recognition program called “Excellence in Education”. For 25 years he was the radio voice of the Marion Easter Pageant. He served as president of the Allen County-Ft. Wayne Historical Society; Historic Ft. Wayne, and Quest Club. In retirement he continues to provide leadership on several church and community boards.
Recognized and admired by broadcasters across the state, he is past president of the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers and the Associated Press Broadcasters of Indiana. He is a graduate of Purdue University, where he was regularly heard in the 1950’s on WBAA as a newscaster and classical music host.
Jane Woods Hodge, eventually to be recognized as “Janie” Hodge, graduated from Shortridge High School in 1951 and went on to earn her undergraduate degree from Indiana University in Music and then earned a Master’s degree from Butler University in 1958.
Janie taught music in Indianapolis Public Schools and for two years in North Bergen, New Jersey. In 1962 she moved to Milwaukee where she was “Miss Romper Room” on the CBS affiliate every morning. She was also involved with Milwaukee schools as a music supervisor and on-air teacher. A year later, 1963, Janie headed to Indianapolis.
She was a summer replacement for June Ford working a daily magazine program with Stan Wood. In August that year she began the “Popeye and Janie” show on WTTV, Channel 4. The Monday-Friday show aired from 4:30-6 and went until 1972. It featured cartoons, guests, and features from various locations such as the Zoo, Children’s Museum, Circus and strong connections with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. It was with ISO Janie helped establish “LolliPop” concerts providing knowledge about music for children. The show moved to mornings, 7-9 a.m., in 1972 and ran until 1986.
In 1986, Janie returned to teaching music in Indianapolis Public Schools wrapping up her teaching career in 1998. During that time she was recognized as the “Teacher of the Year”, earned the “ABCD” award (Above and Beyond Call of Duty) for taking students to the library and getting them library cards and materials which was a first for many of these students.
Janie could also be seen downtown Indy and at nursing homes with her school choir performing along with her folk dance group performing every spring at the Convention Center. She wrapped up her on-air and teaching career in 1998 leaving behind students and parents who followed her work and guidance.
Howard Kellman majored in radio and television at Brooklyn College receiving his B.A. degree with Cum Laude honors in 1975. During those undergraduate years Howard was the radio and television voice of St. John’s basketball from 1973-75.
For baseball fans in Indianapolis, Kellman celebrated his 40th year as the play-by-play announcer of the Indianapolis Indians in 2015. When not in the booth with the Indians, Howard also did 25 years of play-by-play at WHMB-TV covering the High School football and basketball games of the week which he continues in 2015.
While juggling the Indians and high school on-air jobs, Howard was Sports Director at WNDE in 1981, hosted radio shows on WXLW and WNDE called “Great Baseball Memories”. These programs were a series of vignettes Kellman put together with his baseball background. He also hosted a TV show “Inside the Indians” focusing on the Tribe.
There were times when he filled-in and did play-by-play for the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets and Cleveland Cavaliers and was a sideline reporter for Yale Football in 2012 on the YES television network.
The voice of Howard Kellman continues to provide the play-by-play for the Indianapolis Indians.