Eight communications professionals will be inducted into the N.C. Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations halls of fame and the N.C. Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 1. The halls are based in UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
The three journalism honorees are Jennie Buckner, the first woman to serve as editor of The Charlotte Observer and vice president of news for Knight Ridder; Ferrel Guillory, former associate editor of and longtime contributor to The News & Observer in Raleigh; and Andrew “Mac” Secrest ’49, former editor and publisher of the Cheraw, S.C., newspaper, The Chronicle.
Walter J. Klein ’45, founder of the Walter J. Klein Co. advertising agency, is the advertising honoree. Roberta Bowman, a longtime communications executive at Duke Energy Corp., is the public relations honoree.
The three new broadcast members are the late Joseph Bryan, television visionary; John Greene, a longtime Capitol Broadcasting Co. executive; and Ken Lowe ’72, president and chief executive officer of E.W. Scripps Co.
The broadcasting hall of fame is overseen by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters, representing more than 300 broadcasting executives and business managers in industries that support broadcasting operations.
The journalism, advertising and public relations halls of fame recognize individuals who have made outstanding, career-long contributions to their field. Honorees must be native North Carolinians or those born elsewhere who have become distinctly identified with the state.
The new members will bring total memberships in the halls of fame to 114 in journalism, 18 in advertising, 21 in public relations and 92 in broadcasting. The halls were founded in 1970 (broadcasting), 1981 (journalism) and 1988 (advertising and public relations).
As vice president and editor of The Charlotte Observer for 11 years, Buckner provided editorial leadership to the newspaper’s 260 news professionals until her retirement in 2004. During her tenure as editor, the newspaper won numerous state and national awards and was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in public service.
Buckner was the first female top editor of The Charlotte Observer, as well as the first woman to serve as vice president of news for Knight Ridder. During her 35 years in journalism, Buckner also was managing editor of the San Jose, Calif., Mercury News, and she held a number of editing positions at The Detroit Free Press.
Guillory worked at The News & Observer from 1972 to 1994 as a Southern correspondent, government affairs editor, associate editor, chief state capitol correspondent and Washington correspondent. He also wrote a weekly column of commentary on public issues, governance and politics with a special focus on North Carolina and the South for more than two decades.
Guillory has taught in the journalism school since 1997. He is also director of UNC’s Program on Southern Politics, Media and Public Life.
Secrest bought the Cheraw, S.C., newspaper, The Chronicle, in 1953. He edited and published the newspaper in the 1950s and 1960s, at the apex of civil rights battles in the South. Secrest crusaded against segregation despite harassment that included threats to him and his family, buckshot through the windows of his home and menacing signs placed in his yard late at night. He received a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard in 1960 for his courageous journalistic work.
Secrest also served as the co-chair of the Community Relations Service during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, focusing on racial disputes in the U.S. and especially the South. The CRS helped bring about the Voting Rights Acts of 1965 and 1966. He joined the journalism faculty at Carolina in 1970 and later joined the faculty at N.C. Central University.
Klein began his career in advertising as a staff member at The Charlotte Observer in 1946, following his service in World War II. Soon thereafter, Klein founded Walter J. Klein Co., which became one of the state’s largest full-service advertising agencies.
Under Klein’s direction, the company excelled at commercial production for some of America’s most prominent industries and organizations during a pivotal time for broadcast media. The company produced the first commercial that was shown in Charlotte, broadcast on WBTV the night before the station officially signed on. Klein remained an influential figure in the worlds of advertising, public relations and filmmaking for the duration of his career.
Bowman is the vice president for sustainability and community affairs at Duke Energy Corp., following years of service to the company in the areas of corporate communication, reputation and brand management, public policy, issues management, philanthropy and government relations. Bowman is also president of the Duke Energy Foundation, which makes about $20 million in grants annually.
After a World War I military career, Bryan became president of the Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co. subsidiary that bought WBIG, then Greensboro’s radio station. Under his leadership, the company also purchased WBT in Charlotte, which then became WBTV and was the first television station to air in both North Carolina and South Carolina.
Bryan’s career in broadcasting was recognized when he was included as one of the first inductees into the N.C. Business Hall of Fame. He also was known for his philanthropic work. Bryan donated $10 million to the Duke University Medical Center for Alzheimer’s disease research. He also directed the Bryan Family Foundation, which was established in 1955 and benefited numerous colleges and universities. Bryan died in 1995, one year short of his 100th birthday.
Greene has been in the broadcast industry since 1962 when he paid his way through college by working in radio and news. After his graduation from Carolina in 1966, Greene joined Jefferson-Pilot Broadcasting Corp. as a reporter for WBTV in Charlotte. He was promoted through the company’s ranks and became the news and information manager, leading his team to win many national awards.
Greene became station manager of the Capitol Broadcasting Co. affiliate WRAL-TV in 1976. Following several promotions, Greene was named senior vice president in 1984. He retired from the organization in 1990 to pursue teaching broadcast journalism at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. However, Greene was lured out of retirement by his former employer in 1994 to help shape the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He is the vice president of special projects for Capitol Broadcasting Co.
Lowe traces his success in broadcasting to modest beginnings. The son of a tobacco farmer, he secured a job as an on-air personality at a local radio station when he was 15, employment that helped pay his tuition at Carolina. His college roommate was Rick Dees ’72, the Top 40 radio host.
After graduation, Lowe held positions with Southern Broadcasting and Harte-Hanks Broadcasting in the 1970s. He joined E.W. Scripps Co. in 1980 and following several promotions was elevated to the rank of chairman and CEO of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company. Lowe founded and launched Home & Garden Television in 1994; managed the Food Network, in which the company owns a majority interest; and oversaw the creation of the company’s Do It Yourself and Fine Living networks.
The awards ceremony will be held on campus at The Carolina Inn, beginning with a 6 p.m. reception and followed by dinner at 7 p.m.