The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame inducted four outstanding journalists during its fifth annual induction ceremony Aug. 15.
This year’s honorees — Leon Alligood, Tom Humphrey, Don Whitehead and Larry Woody — were celebrated during the ceremony at Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center, 1200 Conference Center Blvd. in Murfreesboro.
WSMV-TV Channel 4 news anchor and 2016 hall inductee Demetria Kalodimos emceed the ceremony, which was held in partnership with Middle Tennessee State University and in conjunction with the 69th Conference of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters.
Guest speakers included Ron Fryar, owner/publisher of the Cannon Courier and immediate past-president of the Tennessee Press Association; Whit Adamson, president of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters; Ken Paulson, dean of the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment; and MTSU journalism professor Larry Burriss.
Class of 2017 honorees:
• Stephen Leon Alligood is a former reporter for the Nashville Banner and The Tennessean who covered the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan as an embedded reporter. He has won national, regional and state journalism awards and currently is an associate professor of journalism at MTSU.
“Anytime anyone gets this type of recognition, you don’t come here alone, and I come here with the help of a lot of people over the years at the various newspapers I worked at,” Alligood told the crowd. “It was a wonderful career, I had 30 years in the newsroom and I wouldn’t trade anything for it.”
• Tom Humphrey, retired Nashville bureau chief for the Knoxville News Sentinel and contributing editor for the Tennessee Journal, currently edits a popular blog and writes a weekly column for the News Sentinel. The Nashville School of Law graduate covered Capitol Hill politics for almost 40 years, originally for United Press International.
“A friend of mine called me after (the inductees were announced) and he said, ‘Tom, I guess you deserved that because you stuck with a long time and never screwed anything up really bad,” he said.
• Don Whitehead was the first African-American radio news broadcaster for WLAC Radio in Nashville. After graduating in 1967 from Tennessee State University, the young journalist “became a voice for the people throughout the South, using the radio airways to encourage black youth to attend school emphasizing the importance of education,” according to the TJHOF.
“It’s amazing to come home and have to receive an award like this,” Whitehead said. “It’s something I never dreamed I would have ever done. … It’s good to be back home and receiving this award, and I tell you one thing, I appreciate this very much.”
• Larry “Woodrow” Woody is a retired sports writer for The Tennessean, three-time Tennessee Sports Writer of the Year and author of several books. Woody was a Vietnam combat reporter and member of the 2001-2002 class of the Martin Methodist College Sports Hall of Fame.
“I remember what my old sports editor John Bibb used to say, when they start giving you awards, you better look out because the end is near,” Woody said with a chuckle. “But it’s been a heckuva ride.
“And when I look back, what a way to come for a kid growing up in the country, I used to lie awake at night and off in the distance I would hear a train whistle moaning way off in the distance … and I thought how exciting it would be to get to go on those trips some day. And thanks to a lot of people, I grew up and I got to ride the train.”
The Tennessee Journalism Hall Fame is an independent partner with MTSU recognizing individuals who have distinguished themselves through news or business management, leadership in the industry, or in the ordinary practice of journalism. Inductees can include reporters, writers, editors, publishers, news directors, and other managers as well as those who have excelled in advertising or public relations, and journalism advertising and PR education. Inductees may be living or deceased, native Tennesseans or non-natives who spent a substantial part of their career in Tennessee.
For more information about the hall, visit www.tnjournalismhof.org or contact secretary Hooper Penuel at 615-347-1672.