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A Look Back: Baylor Journalism in the 1960s and 1970s

October 30, 2017
By David McHam

McHam

The 1960s and early ‘70s became a golden age of Baylor Journalism. For one span of time an assortment of students and faculty put the Baylor Journalism Department and student publications on the map. Looking back, what they accomplished seems unusual. At the time it seemed normal.

The students were a wonderful group. They were the sons and daughters of the World War II generation. That may help explain them. They had talent and imagination. They worked hard and worked together. They have become best friends for life. Some even married. Most of all, they respected each other and rejoiced in the accomplishments of their friends.

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In any business that has repeated success over many years, I’ve found that the people shape the period. A lot was going on in the country in the 1960s — the death of a
president, the escalation of the war in Vietnam, the civil rights movement. Baylor journalists from that period covered all those things, and the experience helped prepare them for careers and for life.

This is my recollection of who those people were and
what they became. I will leave it to others to memorialize (or remember) our student journalists from more recent years who are still writing their stories.

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Dave Cheavens and I joined the faculty in the fall of 1961. W.J. Thomas was the the only other full-time teacher. Tommy Suits taught part time. Later we added Harry Marsh, Reba Campbell, Adrian Vaughan, Harold Holder, Ed Kelton, Mike Stricklin and Oscar Hoffmeyer. Jim McElhaney taught broadcast journalism and ran KWBU. (At one point The Lariat had a weekly program on KWBU.) Charlie Reynolds, and later Ralph Davis, joined the student publications staff. C.C. Risenhoover became the head of Baylor Public Relations. Frances Darden was in charge of the Baylor news service. Sherry Boyd Castello was editor of The Baylor Line. I am naming all these people because they all had a part in what we were able to accomplish.

Journalism and student publications were in a World War II prefab just across the bridge on Seventh Street. The building conveniently backed up to the Baylor Press on Eighth Street. Later we moved to Harrington Hall, a former dormitory, before moving to the Castellaw building in 1974.

Cheavens had been the AP bureau chief in Austin for many years and was one of the most respected journalists in Texas. While a student at Baylor he was sports editor of The Baylor Lariat. He was on the bus that crashed in Round Rock and killed the 10 basketball players. Funds to build the journalism building were provided by the Castellaw family. Jack Castellaw is one of The Immortal Ten. Cheavens made the involvement of the Castellaws possible.

Cheavens was married to the former Alice Dawson, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J.M. Dawson. A highlight of our time together was when Dawson came for a talk and interview with journalism students. He was one of the founders of both The Lariat and Round-Up.

A turning point for the journalism program came when we began to win awards at regional and national levels. We dominated the awards for the Southwest Journalism Congress for The Lariat and The Iscani, our magazine. One year, a shocked University of Texas editor exclaimed,
“Who are these people?”

Students went all over to cover events.

Henry Holcomb and Paul Currier went to the University of Mississippi to cover integration there – for which they won an award.

We won first place in the Society of Professional Journalists awards for coverage of the Kennedy assassination. Ed DeLong and Ray Hubener were the reporters. Paul Currier had taken pictures of the Kennedys the day before in Houston.

Dave Vereeke and Mike Blackman went to South Texas to write about
Hurricane Beulah in 1967.

Becky Bolin went to Monticello, Ark., to interview Charles D. Johnson, who founded the Baylor journalism department.

Mike McKinney went to Houston for a story on Dr. Michael DeBakey for The Iscani.

Tommy Denton called to report a freshman football game he played in against Rice at Pasadena.

We started a magazine, The Iscani, named by Larry Norwood and edited by Gracie Hatfield, Linda Stewart, Carol Spencer and others. One year it won all but one of the twelve awards in the magazine category at the Southwest Journalism Congress. One year Tom Harris won first place in magazine writing.

Two Baylor women were selected as Mademoiselle magazine guest editors: Ruth Ann Burris and Carol Spencer.

Everyone from those years still cherishes the Round Up for its creativity and imagination. Among the editors: Kerry Duke, Sue Hancock, Jean Walke, Merikaye Strunk, Ralph Davis, John Shepelwich. Eddie Ball was editor for two years. Still later, Bob Darden was editor.

A great photographer, Paul Currier, came our way and recorded just about everything we and Baylor did. Glamour magazine had a national contest for best-dressed coeds, and, thanks to Currier's photographs, Baylor women were selected for three years in a row. He helped nurture a whole host of student photographers. Among them: Wilton Abel, Kenny Scott, Phil Parks, Gary Burns, John Odom, Richard York, Bill Vetterling, Sheryn Jones, David Peck.

Sheryn Jones took the photo for the cover of the Last Picture Show album. Pat Washburn was covering a Baylor baseball game when he came up with a picture that was selected for the last page in Life magazine.

Along the way Baylor produced an incredible collection of people.

They worked in a variety of jobs. Some worked in newspapers from New York City to Los Angeles. Others worked in magazines, still others in public relations and marketing.

Here are some of them:

Newspaper editors, managing editors, city editors, news editors and the like: Bill Hartman, Mike Blackman, Tony Pederson, Henry Holcomb, Tommy Miller, Tommy Lindley, Jim Dager, Larry Sanders, Toby Druin, John Cranfill, Parkey Cheshire, Kay Box, Pat Dougherty, Elaine Wikstrom, Craig Black, Harry Wood, Louise Later, Steve Jetton, Judy Cartwright, Ann Thompson, John Black, Barry Jones, Kerry Duke, Mike Phillips, Larry Surratt, Davilynn Bennett Furlow.

Bill Hartman is publisher of a chain of newspapers. Mike Blackman was editor of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Pat Dougherty was editor of The Anchorage Daily News. Mike Phillips was editorial director for Scripps newspapers. Tony Pederson was executive editor of the Houston Chronicle. Henry Holcomb was president of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia.

Dougherty and his staff won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for Public Service.
The citation said: “For reporting about the high incidence of alcoholism and suicide among native Alaskans in a series that focused attention on their despair and resulted in various reforms.”

Bill Hartman was the first editor of The Lariat when Cheavens and I arrived in 1961. Later, he and his family set up the Fred Hartman Distinguished Professor of Journalism chair at Baylor in honor of his father, who graduated from Baylor. Bill’s son, also named Fred, was editor of The Baylor Lariat in the fall of 1986. Mike Blackman later held the Hartman chair.

Ella Wall was Lariat editor after Hartman. She and her husband, Lev Prichard, were the primary donors for scholarships honoring Dave Cheavens and David McHam. She, Gracie Hatfield Hilton and Mike Blackman organized an event at Baylor in 2011 that brought together former students to honor Cheavens and me.

After Lev's passing, Ella founded (with her children and their families) the Prichard Foundation to support the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project at Baylor University. Each year, the Foundation provides the funding in a number of areas, including new digital recording equipment, travel, research and music purchases. Ella also established the Pruit Symposium, which underwrites an annual multi-day seminar on black sacred music, inviting top scholars and musicians to Baylor for several days of presentations, music, and community-building. Both programs are run by Bob Darden.

Editorial page editors: Tommy Denton, Mike Blackman and Paul Harral at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Denton was also the editorial page editor in Roanoke, Va., and was president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers. Nick Jimenez was the long-time editorial page editor of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Jack Simons had the same job at The Iowa Press-Citizen while at the Iowa Writers College. Claude Duncan was the editorial page editor of The Beaumont Enterprise and of newspapers in Florida.

Tommy Kennedy was a columnist for The Houston Post and Ron Littlepage is a columnist for the Jacksonville Times-Union. Tony Castro was a columnist for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Alice Savisky Love was a columnist for the Dallas Times Herald.

Bob Vickrey and Ted Talley are retired now, but they are writing opinion pieces. Vickrey’s are printed, among other places, in The Waco Tribune-Herald and the Houston Chronicle. Talley writes mainly for the newspaper in Bentonville, Ark. Vickrey won an award for best column writing from the California Newspaper Publishers Association this year.

Mike Kennedy was a foreign correspondent for The Los Angeles Times and was assistant foreign editor of National Public Radio. Mike Blackman was the foreign editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. At a time The Philadelphia Inquirer was winning Pulitzer Prizes annually, Baylor grads were there: Blackman, Henry Holcomb, Tommy Denton, Tommy West, Larry Surratt, David Morrison and Tom Belden.

Writers of Books: Tom Harris, Tony Castro, Preston Lewis, Yvonne Baskin, Dallas Lee, Bob Darden, Ellen Debenport, Kay Wheeler Moore, Martha Hughes. Seven of Harris’ books, including Black Sunday and The Silence of the Lambs, were made into movies. Lewis won awards for his western novels. Louis and Kay Moore own Hannibal Books, based in Garland.
Martha Hughes teaches writing at New York University.

Sports writers and editors: John McClain, David McCollum, Alan Eskew,
Lester Zedd, Doug Bedell, Tony Castro. David Cawood was the assistant executive director of public relations at the NCAA. David Pickle was director of communications and executive editor of the NCAA Champion magazine. McClain, who writes for the Houston Chronicle, is the dean of NFL writers and is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. He also can be heard on radio in Houston, Waco and Nashville. David McCollum may hold the record for the most words written by a sports writer, mostly for the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway, Arkansas. He has been chosen the Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year and is a member of the Arkansas Sportswriters Hall of Fame

Mike Eakin started at Baylor, transferred to the University of Texas and became editor of The Daily Texan.

Jesse Degollado has been a reporter at KSAT-TV in San Antonio since 1984. Roma Reavis became a radio celebrity with her husband, Don Wade, at WLS in Chicago. Both Degollado and Reavis have won numerous awards. Rick Bradfield led an award-winning staff as news director at KWTX-TV in Waco.

We had an entry to wire services, especially United Press International:
Ed Delong, Kay Brown, Tommy Miller, Preston Kirk, Paul Harral, Mike Kennedy, Tom Belden, Tommy Brooks, Ellen Debenport, Larry Surratt, Tommy Kennedy, Kay Wheeler Moore, Ron Littlepage.

Delong, Harral and Belden covered the space program.

Bob Gassaway covered Vietnam for The Associated Press. Tom Harris, Dallas Lee, Yvonne Baskin and John Pearce also worked at the AP. Sharon Herbaugh died while covering the war in Afghanistan for the AP.

Paul Parsons worked for both UPI and the AP. He is now professor and dean of the School of Communications at Elon University. In 2010-11 he was president of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Religion writers/editors: Louis Moore, Terry Mattingly, Lilla Ross, Toby Druin and John Rutledge. When he worked at the Houston Chronicle, Moore was named the outstanding religion writer in America and was president of the Religion Newswriters Association. He later worked at the Foreign Mission Board. Druin was editor of The Baptist Standard. John Rutledge worked there for many years. Mattingly has written a national syndicated column on religion since 1986 (see GetReligion.org). Dorothy Spleth Linthicum has been editor of a quarterly magazine, Episcopal Teacher, for almost 20 years. She teaches at Virginia Episcopal Theological Seminary.

Rowland Stiteler was editor of D Magazine, Houston City Magazine and a magazine in Orlando, Fla. Susan White has been for years the editor of the SMU magazine. David Morrison is vice president for communication and publications at Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga. Craig Black was an editor at Better Homes and Gardens. Sue Hancock Jones is editor of Ranch Record, the official publication of the Ranching Heritage Association.

Many teachers (at various levels): Bob Darden, Maggie Bigham, Tom Belden, Paul Parsons, Pat Washburn, Jack Simons, Mike Stricklin, Ed Kelton, Barry Jones, Rick Bradfield, Julie Kennedy, Tony Pederson, Ray Hubener, Martha Hughes, Darla Prudom, John Ben Sutter, Ron Hurt, Jon Fisher, Kathi Fisher, Beverly Narum, Vicki Klaras, Paula Cozart, Jan Hardberger, John Sellers, Everett Robinson, Louis Natalicio, Stewart Byois, Meme Drumwight, Jerry Stephens, Bob Gassaway, Ronald Stovall, Dorothy Spleth, Carolyn Owens, Jan Whitt, Judy Gossett, Gayla McGlamery. Jean Walke was an administrator at both Dallas County and Houston community colleges.

Tony Pederson holds the Belo chair and is chair of the journalism department at SMU. He has been a Pulitzer juror and served as president of the Inter American Press Association. He is active in journalism education in Latin America.

Thanks to Murray Neal and Dave Campbell, Baylor journalism graduates from other eras, a great many of our students worked at The Waco News-Tribune and Times-Herald (we had separate morning and afternoon newspapers then) while in school and after: Tommy West, Dallas Lee, Gary Christian, Roger Cantrell, Ernie Makovy, Mike Kennedy, Pat Taggart, Tom Harris, Linda Little, Barry Jones, Mike Phillips, Nancy Stiteler, Sherry Fudge, Jack Simons, John Cranfill, Bob Dye, Judy Cartwright, Lester Zedd, Tony Pederson, John McClain, John Black, Bruce Westbrook, Jim Dagar, Bob Darden.

Harry Marsh and I worked part time at The News-Tribune. For those who worked there while they were in school, the experience was like having an advanced laboratory to complement their classes at Baylor.

Others covered Friday night football. Several staffers and other Baylor students (including Roger Cantrell, Ed Kelton and Bob Dye) were involved in covering the crash of a Braniff airliner near Dawson in 1968. The story won first place for breaking news in the Texas Associated Press contest.

Roland Arriola became mayor of Waco and then vice president at the University of Texas/Pan American. He was a White House Fellow and was selected by the Jaycees as one of the 10 outstanding young men in America.

Joe Robison became baseball coach at the Air Force Academy and later a scout for the New York Yankees. Tommy Denton played football at Baylor. He, Jack Simons and Paul Rowlett served in Vietnam.

Three of the students from this period became members of the Baylor board of trustees: Ella Wall Prichard, Gracie Hatfield Hilton and Toby Druin.

And, a long list of writers, reporters, copy editors, etc. Such a list of course includes people previously mentioned. And, others, just so I hope I won’t leave anyone out: Tommy West, Ernie Makovy, Chris Evans, Roger Cantrell, Ken Askew, Fred Binkley, Rebecca Mason, Dennis Neighbours, Dean Eubank, Ron Hurt, Bob Dye, Sue Dye, Elaine Wikstrom, Gary Christian, Elizabeth McIlhaney, Pat Taggart, Kay Wheeler, Lilla Ross, Bruce Westbrook, Nancy Stiteler, John Pearce, Beverly Narum, Pat Taggart, Rick Hale, Merikaye Strunk, Fred Binkley, Pat Bonnett, Bill Harris, Anne Miller, Bill Waldrop, Sara Gillentine, Ruth Ann Burris, Bill McCleary, Oscar Dupree, Gwen McNelladge, Ben Selman, Margie Hoffman, Beth Curlin, Becky Bolin, Dana Middleton, Marsha Comstock, Nelson Norman, Larry Taylor, Kiki Dreyer, Paul Felty, Sue Ann True, Stewart Byois, Stuart Heady, Kim Watson, Buddy Ives, Betty Dillard, Julie Hickerson, Cindy Musick, Denny Truitt, Mike McKinney, Nancy Flowers, Carolyn Ledbetter, Debbie Potts, Burke Watson, Elaine Selcaig, Jane Johnson, Linda Little, Greg Watson, Julie Hickerson, Willie White, Marvin Hogan, Kay Council, Gracie Vaughan. And many, many more.

People transferred to Baylor to study journalism: Gracie Hatfield, Toby Druin, Tommy Miller, David Morrison, Claude Duncan, Martha Hughes, Rowland Stiteler, Larry Sanders, Roland Arriola, Barry Jones, Frances Darden, Kerry Duke, Pat Bonnet, Greg Jones, Ronald Stovall, Doug Bedell, Roger Rhinehart. Tony Pederson, John McClain. Luis Natalicio (Brazil) and Stein Stabrun (Sweden) were foreign students. Ken Askew came from Japan, where his parents were missionaries.

They went to graduate school at Columbia, University of California, Northwestern, Ohio State, Iowa, Texas, Syracuse and other places. Louis Moore, Chris Evans and Katherine Cornell went to seminary. Tony Castro and Pat Dougherty attended Harvard as Nieman Fellows.

Mike Walker, Dave Vereeke, David Fuller, Ralph Calhoun and Edee Holleman became lawyers. The late Curtis Clogston was both a lawyer and a doctor.

And politicians: Kay Brown, Betty Kirbo Denton and Ernest Istook. Brown is a member of the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.

Ken Askew was a speechwriter for Senator Sam Nunn and President George H.W. Bush. You can find his account of this in an online article, Confessions of a Wounded Speechwriter.

Several of our friends joined the Peace Corps. Ray Hubener went to Cameroon, Mike and Chere Stricklin to Brazil and Parkey and Carol Cheshire to India.

Sherry Smith Matthews owns Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing in Austin. Roslyn Dawson Thompson is head of the Dallas Women’s Foundation. Michael Jenkins was president and managing director of the Dallas Summer Musicals for more than 20 years. Betty Lynn Wall McHam ran the Shell Foundation. Judy Gossett Connatser was advertising director at Neiman Marcus.

Willie Waldrop and his wife, Charlotte-Anne Lucas, operate NOWCastSA.com, an online community news service in San Antonio.

Musicians: Roger Rhinehart and Jim Gordon. Preston Kirk and his wife, Ronda Dale Kirk, are actors.

And a minister: Ellen Debenport.

Others took a course or two, didn’t major in journalism, but were close to the program: Rod Surratt, Price Daniel Jr., Larry Norwood, Fowler West, Art Goolesbee, Sam Attlesey, Larry Culpepper, Ed Baker, Pruitt Ashworth, David Atnip, Sid Smith, Beth Beckelhymer, Michael Bridgewater, Kirk Purcell, Bill Harris, Tom Haas and Marjorie Morris Scardino. Scardino became CEO of Pearson, the British company that publishes The Economist and The Financial Times.

We took trips to Washington and New York between semesters in 1972 and 1973. We attended plays on Broadway and took in the sights. Most of the students had never been to either place.

The two years kind of run together ….

We met lots of celebrities. Walter Cronkite talked with us until just seconds before he went on the air. At the Today Show we met Joe Garagiola and while visiting with him Barbara Walters came off the set and told us to quiet down. We also met Frank Blair and Frank McGee. Hal Wingo, class of 1957, had the group to his office at Life magazine. We went to the Dick Cavett Show. Bill Moyers, by then doing the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, invited Ted Talley, Kay Brown, Kim Dawson and Nelson Norman to his home on Long Island for lunch. Talley met Harry Reasoner in the hall at ABC. Gail Sheehy invited some of us to her apartment for a visit.

In Washington we toured the White House, the capitol, the Smithsonian, etc. We even got to peek into the Oval Office. We shook hands with Press Secretary Ron Ziegler, but he was hesitant to answer questions. At the Defense Department we visited with one of our own, Ed DeLong, who was there for UPI.

When the Kingston Trio came to Waco Hall, the group met with Lariat staff members backstage. Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary talked with a Lariat reporter. John Denver met with students backstage before his concert. Don McLean gave a long interview to Nelson Norman.

Speakers who come to campus often met with journalism students. Memorable occasions involved James Dickey, Jon Voight, Al Capp, Sander Vanocur and Art Buchwald. Students met Bill Moyers, took him to the Lariat offices for a visit and then to his hotel.

More than once students ran into Van Cliburn when he was visiting his cousin, Bob Reid of the history department. Paul Currier made a great photograph of the two of them with Pat Neff Hall in the background.

A Lariat reporter met Mickey Mantle when he came to a Baylor track meet to present watches to the winners. Once, someone said that Ted Lyons, a Baylor graduate and another member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, was talking with people behind Harrington Hall. We went out to meet him and Larry Taylor did a story for The Lariat.

Craig Black interviewed Willie Nelson, in part about his time at Baylor:
"I majored in dominoes. I wasn't a good student. I was failing
everything -- I think -- failing in everything."

At spring break in 1973, we went to Covington, La., and spent the afternoon with Walker Percy.

The Lariat had a preschool retreat at Lake Whitney, and an argument still persists over who won the games of Hearts and Spades. Our end-of-the-year banquets were usually at an SPJST hall in West, thanks to Ernie Makovy. Although one year we went to the Stagecoach Inn.

We sold programs at the early Willie Nelson Fourth of July concerts.

And, a good many of the men belonged to the NoZe Broherhood. Unfortunately, we are not able to reveal their real names. We do recall stories, such as when the NoZe had its formal at the city dump and got there on a retired fire truck. Rumor has it that many of our NoZe brothers helped put out the Rope.

Oh, by the way, The Lariat beat Student Congress in football and would have won in intramural basketball except for Dutch Schroeder. Joe Robison, the best pitcher on Baylor’s baseball team, was playing for The Lariat. Schroeder walked in, saw Robison and ordered him off the court. In spite of that, Schroeder remains one of our greatest supporters.

A Postscript: Unfortunately we have lost too many people along the way. Among them: Dave Cheavens, Adrian Vaughan, Tommy West, Paul Currier, Bob Rothe, Alan Williams, Michael Eakin, David Cawood, Claude Duncan, Sid Smith, Ernest Cochran, Price Daniel Jr., Linda Stewart, Elaine Selcraig, Katrina Hardberger, Jim McElhaney, Ernie Makovy, Rod Surratt, Kathi Fisher, Tommy Miller, Mike Walker, Boyd Hampton, Curtis Clogston, Kirk Purcell, Nancy Flowers, Marvin Hogan, Bob Gassaway, Sharon Herbaugh – and special friends from the 1950s: Don Castello and Hollis Biddle. And Lev Prichard, a very special friend.

If I have missed or misrepresented anyone or anything I apologize. My memory is not as good as it once was. Also, I’m leaving out hundreds of stories that the people in this account could tell. I do want to emphasize what a privilege it has been knowing all of you. You enriched each other, and especially me. You made Baylor a better place. When people ask about our time together at Baylor, this is the way I remember it.


David McHam attended Baylor in 1956-58 and taught there from 1961 to 1974. After that he was at Southern Methodist University (1974-1998), the University of Texas at Arlington (1998-2001) and the University of Houston (2001-2015). Now retired, he lives in Houston with his wife, the former Betty Lynn Wall.

The Baylor Line Foundation Oral History Project has a series of video interviews with McHam at: Online Videos
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