The Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame honored seven outstanding Tennessee journalists, including one posthumously, during induction ceremonies Tuesday, Aug. 7, during the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters annual conference at Murfreesboro’s Embassy Suites Hotel.
This marked the sixth class to be inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, located at Middle Tennessee State University. Previous class inductees may be found at www.tnjournalismhof.org.
This year’s inductees included Knoxville News Sentinel editorial cartoonist Charlie Daniel; First Amendment advocate and retired veteran journalist Frank Gibson; Grand Ole Opry photographer and publicist Les Leverett; award-winning News 2 anchor Bob Mueller; veteran announcer and sportscaster Randy Smith; Tennessean investigative reporter Jerry Thompson (posthumous); and longtime Midstate journalist and columnist Dan Whittle.
Guest speakers include Ron Fryar, owner and publisher of the Cannon Courier and two-time past-president of the Tennessee Press Association; Whit Adamson, president of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters; Ken Paulson, dean of MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment and president of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center; and Larry Burriss, president of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame and an MTSU journalism professor.
Immediately following the ceremony, the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters presented a special free musical performance entitled “Freedom Sings: The Music that Changed America,” hosted by Paulson.
The Tennessee Journalism Hall Fame is an independent partner with MTSU that recognizes 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 in 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 Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, visit www.tnjournalismhof.org or contact Hooper Penuel, Hall of FAme secretary, at 615-347-1672 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are expanded bios of this year’s class:
• Charlie Daniel — A Knoxville News Sentinel editorial cartoonist producing over 15,000 cartoons during a career that has spanned more than 55 years, Daniel specialized in blending sharp but gentle humor with a worldview that “peels away pretense.”
• Frank Gibson — A 52-year veteran award-winning Middle Tennessee journalist and longtime Tennessean reporter and editor, Gibson has been a statewide advocate for journalists, the First Amendment and government transparency. Gibson also founded and served as the first director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.
• Les Leverett — A 36-year photographer and publicist capturing memories of Grand Ole Opry stars, Leverett has been described as the ultimate country music “gentleman photographer” whose images permanently preserve memories of Southern Americana music.
• Bob Mueller — A 10-time Emmy Award-winning television news anchor/reporter, Mueller has over 25 years working in broadcast journalism and over 35 years working at WKRN-TV News 2, the ABC affiliate in Nashville. Mueller is also a recipient of the coveted George Foster Peabody National Award for excellence in investigative reporting.
• Randy Smith — A sportscaster for over 46 years, completing over 500 telecasts as an analyst, Smith is a former staff announcer with the Vol Network and is the first sportscaster inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame.
• Jerry Thompson (posthumous) — Nicknamed “Tub” for his robust tummy, the longtime Tennessean investigative reporter and columnist has been described as “a role model for how to live life to the fullest.” Thompson won a National Headliner Award, one of journalism’s most prestigious citations, and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his undercover investigative reporting series on the Ku Klux Klan in the early 1980s. He died in 2000.
• Dan Whittle — Co-founder of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame and a longtime champion of the First Amendment, Whittle was a longtime newspaper reporter, columnist and community activist and currently serves as the popular co-host of “The Truman Show” on Murfreesboro’s WGNS Radio.
— By Hooper Penuel, Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame