Exemplary rural broadcasters recognized by colleagues

September 2006

Don Neagle of WRUS Radio in Russellville and Jim Freeland of WCBL AM-FM in Benton received the Kentucky Mike award for outstanding personal contributions to Kentucky broadcasting at the fall 2005 conference of the Kentucky Broadcasters Association. Both are great examples of good small-town broadcasters (Freeland said "I have lived the dream"), but Neagle is an old friend of Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, so this report focuses on Neagle.

Francis Nash of Grayson, the recognized historian of Kentucky broadcasting, introduced Neagle as "a very historic radio figure." He said, "Don Neagle . . . has become a true household name in Western Kentucky, and I think Don certainly epitomizes what a small-town broadcaster is supposed to be, wearing every hat you can think of – announcer, salesman, news reporter, sports commentator and manager, and I’m sure probably swept a few floors, too. Folks in Logan County have been waking up to his smooth delivery, his sharp insights and his jovial manner for half of a century. His ‘Feedback’ show has served as a platform for local, regional and national figures. He’s earned the respect of the community there, and that respect has certainly gone beyond the boundaries of that community and the radio station."

Neagle, said, "This all I ever wanted to do. My mother made a picture of me at four years old talking into a little headset on my uncle’s crystal radio, pretending I was on the radio." Neagle, 68, started broadcasting in 1954 from a remote studio in his hometown of Greensburg for a Campbellsville station. He moved from Campbellsville to Harrodsburg to Glasgow to Bowling Green before going to Russellville in 1958, shortly after the arrival there of print journalist Al Smith, whom Neagle said "taught me something about integrity in reporting news." Cross, who worked from 1975 to 1977 at the newspaper Smith owned Russellville, writes: "Don Neagle is a shining example of the essential role that small-town journalists must play in their communities -- trusted reporters, valued commentators, active citizens, community builders and conveners of civil, public discourse."

Other award winners were: Nash, the Al Temple Award for service to KBA; Greg Stotlemyer of WTVQ-TV, Lexington, Kentucky Farm Bureau Communications Award; J.B. Crawley of Campbellsville and Roger Jeffers of Hopkinsville, J.T. Whitlock Life Member Award for retiring broadcasters; and Jack Crowner of Farm Service Radio Network, Ralph Gabbard Distinguished Service Award. Crowner, who retired in January from Clear Channel in Louisville, is a familiar name in farm circles; he was president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters in 1970, its Farm Broadcaster of the Year in 1990 and inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2004. Stotlemyer, who won the Farm Bureau award for coverage of big changes in tobacco, told the crowd he "thought tobacco was cabbage" when he moved to Kentucky years ago, but "I really enjoyed telling the stories of the farmers around the state, because they are the backbone of the state."



Institute for Rural Journalism & Community Issues

University of Kentucky
College of Communications & Information Studies

122 Grehan Building, Lexington, KY 40506-0042

Phone: (859) 257-3744, Fax: (859) 323-9879

Questions about the web site: Contact Al Cross, Institute director, al.cross@uky.edu

Last Updated: Sept. 17, 2006