Following are details regarding the life of longtime Iowa news broadcaster Grant Price, who died over the weekend. I’ve never lived in the Cedar Rapids-Waterloo area, where Grant did most of his work. But I am well aware of his many accomplishments. I had the honor of first meeting Grant when I joined IBNA some years back and, though we didn’t see each other often, I considered him a friend from whom I’ve learned a lot about news broadcasting. I last saw Grant July 8, 2008, when he came to WOC in Davenport to videotape an interview with news director Mark Minnick for the Iowa Broadcasting Archives. I admired him for being so active at more than 80 years of age. Grant taught so much to so many of us in the business. We respected him as a person and as a broadcaster. We were better for knowing him and will miss him greatly.— Phil Roberts
The following is from iowabroadcasting.com, the online home of the
Archives of Iowa Broadcasting,
located at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
to our founder
GRANT L. PRICE
One of the most distinctive and influential voices in Iowa broadcasting history is now silent.
Grant Price, hall of fame broadcaster and professor emeritus of Communication Arts at Wartburg College, died peacefully with family present on Friday, Oct. 17, after a short illness. He was 85.
Services will be held Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Waterloo. Visitation will be Tuesday, Oct. 21 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Locke Funeral Home in Waterloo.
Price began his radio career in 1941 on KSCJ in Sioux City. After service in World War II, he returned to Sioux City, becoming the one-man news department at KTRI radio. In 1948, he moved to the powerhouse signal of KXEL-AM in Waterloo, where he succeeded H.R. Gross as news director. A decade later, as television was capturing the attention of America, Price became news editor for WMT-AM/TV in Cedar Rapids in 1959, and director of news services for the stations in 1961.
During his time at WMT-TV, the station was the dominant news source in eastern Iowa, with rating totals greater than the station’s two competitors combined. After WMT was sold to out of state owners, Price left Channel 2 and returned to Waterloo, serving as vice president for news and public affairs for the Black Hawk Broadcasting Company and overseeing the news operations for the company’s flagship station, KWWL-TV.
During his time at KWWL, Price was well known for hosting the weekly public affairs series “Focal Point: The Community” and for delivering regular on-air editorials, called “Viewpoint”. While he retired from the newsroom in 1989, he continued to deliver “Viewpoint” editorials until 1993. He also hosted the unique quarterly “Broadcasting and You” programs, where station officials answered questions from KWWL viewers.
At a time when most would have been satisfied after nearly a half century in the field, Grant Price found a new challenge: becoming a college professor. Following in the footsteps of fellow broadcasting legend Jack Shelley, Price became an educator, assuming the title of R.J. McElroy Chair & Executive-in-Residence at Wartburg College. He founded the television broadcasting program at Wartburg, and taught classes there each semester until 2005.
In 1994, Price determined that much of the history of radio and television in Iowa was being lost. Feeling that this history was worth saving, he started the Iowa Broadcasting Oral History Project. To date, more than 125 interviews have been conducted with many of the men and women who built electronic media in Iowa. In fact, Price conducted three interviews for the collection this past summer alone. The Iowa Broadcasting Oral History Project led to creation of the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting, designated as the state’s primary repository for materials relating to radio and television in Iowa.
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) released the following statement on the death of Grant Price, journalist and Iowa Public Television Board Member: “Grant Price was a giant in the history of broadcast journalism in Iowa. His life gave meaning and purpose to the First Amendment guarantees of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. Grant Price believed in ‘paying it forward’ by devoting his life to teaching and mentoring journalism students and young reporters. Accuracy, objectivity and fairness were not just ‘aspirations,’ to Grant, they were rules to live by. Grant Price was my friend. But more than that, Grant Price was my Hero. His death leaves a void that will be impossible to fill.”
LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION
Tribute posted to the Iowa Broadcast News Association web site
Online story from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, with video
Tribute blog entry written by IBNA board member Brian Allen
Click here to watch a clip from the 1964 WMT-TV documentary “Funnel in the Night,” hosted by Grant Price and produced by national TV legend Dennis Swanson.
Click here to watch a clip from a 1974 news conference where Grant Price asked President Richard Nixon a question; the answer made front page news around the country.
Grant Price delivered his final newscast on KXEL radio in Waterloo on Feb. 21, 1959. Click here to listen to an edited portion of the first part of his midday 15-minute newscast; click here to listen to his ‘farewell’ to KXEL listeners.
More audio and video clips will be posted soon, as we celebrate the life–and mourn the passing–of Grant Price.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
I had the privilege of a final conversation with Grant when I visited him in the hospital just last Tuesday, only three days before he died. He expressed to me tremendous gratitude for all the wonderful friends and colleagues he had who were thinking of him. We talked about many things, including the Archives and how our various projects were progressing.
The past 10 years I have spent working virtually daily with Grant on the Archives and other projects have been personally and professionally fulfilling. I can’t imagine what it will be like to go over there tomorrow, knowing that he’ll never return to his desk in the archivist’s office.
But one thing is certain: we will redouble our efforts to continue making this collection a resource that Iowa can be proud of. It’s the least we can do, to repay Grant for all he did for so many of us.
Dr. Jeff Stein/Archives Administrator
Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008
Copyright Oct. 20, 2008.