The following notification regarding the death of Jack Shelley is from Jeff Stein of the Iowa Broadcast News Association. Being a member of the IBNA gave me an opportunity to meet, hear and photograph Mr. Shelley, a true Iowa news pioneer, for several years at IBNA functions. A highlight for me was when Mr. Shelley himself presented the award named for him to my good friend and then boss Mark Minnick of WOC, Davenport, at our 2007 convention in Clear Lake, Iowa. May Mr. Shelley rest in peace. — Phil Roberts, Sept. 15, 2010.
The Iowa Broadcast News Association joins thousands of journalists, former students, and those who remember his broadcasts in mourning the death today of legendary Iowa broadcaster Jack Shelley.
Shelley died last night in Ames at the age of 98.
“Jack Shelley was respected nationally for his clear and concise reporting, his dedication to the craft of journalism, and a deep caring for his audience,” said IBNA executive director Jeff Stein. “He truly shaped what broadcast news would become in Iowa and the nation.”
Shelley joined the staff of WHO radio in Des Moines in 1935 after a short time as a reporter for the Clinton Herald. He became radio news director in 1940 and was one of the few local station reporters to do broadcasts from World War II.
His reporting from both the European and Pacific Theaters during the war was not only treasured by listeners throughout the midwest for news of their sons fighting overseas, but was also carried by the NBC network and the BBC. He reported on the Battle of the Bulge and the Japanese surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri, and secured the first radio interviews with the crew of the Enola Gay after the first atomic bomb was dropped.
In 1954, when WHO added television, Shelley assumed duties as news director of both radio and television. He was most known for his daily 12:30 p.m. radio newscasts, and anchoring the 10 p.m. television news.
Shelley left daily broadcasting in 1965 to join the faculty of Iowa State University. He taught broadcast journalism to hundreds of students there until his retirement in 1982.
He was a co-founder of what is now the Radio-Television Digital News Association, the leading international association of broadcast journalists, and was one of its first presidents. He co-founded what is now the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and also served a stint as executive director of the Iowa Broadcasters Association.
“Jack Shelley not only wrote the book on broadcast journalism in Iowa and the nation, but his legacy challenged us to read the book, to understand the book and then follow the book to the letter,” said Brian Allen, current IBNA president.
The IBNA’s lifetime achievement award was created and named for Shelley in 1972. He personally presented the honor all but four times, the most recent being in 2009 in Ames.
“This is truly the end of an era,” Stein noted. “But the standards Jack Shelley set and taught us all will live on in newsrooms forever.”
Services details are not yet available.
The Iowa Broadcast News Association offers its sincere sympathy to the Shelley family, and expresses its gratitude for the life of this most unique newsman.