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Pioneer Iowa newsman Jack Shelley dies at age 98

Grant Price (l) and Jack Shelley at the 2007 IBNA convention in Clear Lake, Iowa. Phil Roberts photo.

Grant Price (l) and Jack Shelley at the 2007 IBNA convention in Clear Lake, Iowa. They are no doubt discussing the news business. Phil Roberts photo.

Shown l-r are 2007 Shelley Award winner Mark Minnick, WOC, Davenport; Jack Shelley; and Grant Price at the 2007 IBNA convention in Clear Lake, Iowa. Phil Roberts photo.

Left to right are Jack Shelley, Grant Price and Cliff Brockman, a former Shelley Award winner, at the 2007 IBNA convention in Clear Lake, Iowa. Phil Roberts photo.

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.

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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.

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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New book chronicles devastating 2008 Iowa flood

The cover of Jeff Stein's book on Iowa's 2008 flood.

An anniversary is a commemoration of the date something notable took place. But it’s not necessarily something folks celebrate.

June 2010 will mark the second anniversary of the massive flooding that devastated much of Iowa and parts of other Midwestern states. But no one will be celebrating.

Beginning June 7, 2008, floodwaters ran in portions of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Thirteen people died, and damage was in the billions.

In Iowa, the central part of the state and Cedar Rapids were hardest hit. Two people lost their lives.

A comprehensive new hard-cover book, “One Week in June: The Iowa Floods of 2008,” chronicles the flooding along Iowa’s Cedar and Iowa rivers. The book was written in documentary style by my friend, Jeff Stein, who is professor of communication arts at Wartburg College and the executive secretary of the Iowa Broadcast News Association.

WDG Publishing of Cedar Rapids, whose offices were among those flooded, is the publisher. The book can be ordered for $44.95 plus shipping and handling by calling WDG at (800) 626-0411. It also is available from Barnes & Noble and other stores throughout Iowa.

More information about the book and a sample chapter are available online at http://www.JeffStein.org.

The 144-page book contains more than 200 color images from the communities affected by the floods. Breathtaking aerial shots in particular illustrate the widespread devastation.

“Jeff Stein’s essays, alongside stunning pictures from that week in June, bring back sharp-focus memories of a time that touched all Iowans,” notes Trent Rice, a radio newsman in Ames. “It is a moving testament to those who stood on the front lines of those battles against the water, fighting to save homes, neighborhoods and often, entire towns.”

The pictures and Stein’s narrative encompass the disaster of the Cedar River Valley and form a chronological and geographical look at the Cedar River’s destruction from Charles City southward. Flooding of the Iowa River in and around Iowa City and Coralville is also included, as well as the aftermath in communities south of the confluence of the Cedar and Iowa rivers.

When writing the book, Stein said people didn’t want to talk about their experiences because no one thought what they did was anything special.

“Yet there are countless examples of people going above and beyond to help their neighbors,” he said. “This is really a story of how people rallied together in the face of adversity, responding as only Iowans would do.”

Many say the flood of 2008, coupled with some deadly tornadoes, will be remembered as the worst natural disaster ever to hit Iowa. Our governor, Chet Culver, also has predicted the disaster is likely to go down as one of the top 10 worst natural disasters in United States history. Time will tell.

In his introduction to “One Week in June: The Iowa Floods of 2008,” Stein noted, “The devastation was only one week in the making, but in many cases the recovery will take years.”

Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Submitted as an “Everyday People”column at The North Scott Press.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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Guest blog: Good-bye to the Youngster

dic1c

A more recent shot of Dic Youngs at KIOA's Iowa State Fair booth with Dr. Jeff Stein, communications professor at Wartburg College. Photo courtesy of Jeff Stein and Brian Allen

Note from Phil Roberts: Following is a guest blog written by my friend, Brian Allen of KSFY-TV, Sioux Falls. He writes recently of the death of Dic Youngs, “the Youngster,” a Des Moines rock radio legend. Although I didn’t know Dic, I feel like I knew him because I listened to him when I could for so many years. That happens in radio. After a while, though you’ve never met, you get to know the announcer whose voice comes through the speaker day after day. I admired Dic for staying in the business so long; that’s no easy task.

It’s sometimes odd what occurs to you in the middle of the night when you cannot sleep. It is tough when your heroes die. To know that their good works have come to an end and their voice has been silenced.


Early this morning, one of my broadcasting heroes lost his life.

His name was Dic Youngs. If you’re old enough, you’ve probably heard of him. He was a legend, spending more than 45 years in broadcasting. Most of that time was spent behind a microphone at KIOA in Des Moines. He WAS rock and rock in the 1960s and 1970s, eventually growing into the role of “radio grandfather” in the ‘80s, ‘90s and beyond. He was a mentor to so many broadcasters, directly and indirectly. Those fortunate enough to work with him benefited from his direct involvement. Those who benefited indirectly were provided with a road map on how to respect yourself, others and the business of broadcasting.

Every year, Youngsy would broadcast live from the Iowa State Fair. His booming voice audible even without the big speakers KIOA would set up. He was like Santa Claus in the Summertime; always quick with a joke or a smile or a pat on the back. I am 36 and have missed only a handful of Iowa State Fairs, so I had many opportunities to sit down and talk with Dic. But I never did it. Not really.

Every once in a while I would approach him and start a conversation but then almost back out of it. He wasn’t intimidating, not in the least. I just think every time I would try I would end up having a “you’re not worthy” moment and not finish what I had tried to start. But I would always admire from afar and be amazed at how well he knew people and how well he knew the music.


That was the thing: Every time Dic Youngs was on the radio you KNEW he loved the music. That he was particular about playing songs with strong lyrics and attention-getting guitar licks and bass lines. It was always a party with Youngsy — at least that’s how he made it appear and that’s why he was so fun to listen to.


For years, Dic hosted a Saturday night oldies show on KIOA. When I lived in Des Moines…and eventually when I moved away but would come back for visits…I would always turn the show on and listen. It always made me smile. What a master of the radio dial!


Which brings us back now to today and the horrible news which greeted me this morning. Dic had been hospitalized for a while now at Mercy in Des Moines. This morning about 1:30, his body apparently had enough and he passed into history. Going forward, it will be odd to think and talk about him in the past tense.


He made the world a better, more tolerable place….one record at a time. His jokes, sometimes corny, could bring a smile to your face and make you temporarily forget about your woes.

He was a big man in size and a big man in heart.


Of all the people I know who have worked with Youngsy, I have never heard one of them gripe about Dic and that is saying something. Broadcasting can be fairly two-faced and has it’s fair share of back stabbers. That being said, Dic Youngs was respected but more than that he was loved. And when someone you love dies, it’s tough to take.


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Statement from KIOA (more, including audio clips of Dic, at http://kioa.com/Dic-Youngs-1941-2009/5251474):

93.3 KIOA and the Des Moines community have lost an icon. Richard “Dic” Youngs has passed away after a long illness.

Dic will always be remembered for his reverberating baritone, the way he helped entertain and inform Iowa and his quickness with a wink and a smile. Youngsy always wanted to have a good time and take his audience on the same ride.


Youngsy could spin a tale with such style that, even if he only had a few details, you listened closely and begged for more.  From the start he had one desire – give the audience a good time. And whether he was spinning discs at a sock-hop or counting down the top 10 on the radio, people danced and had the time of their lives.


But Dic was also able to help listeners through the tough times as well. If it was a recession, a flood or the 2001 terrorist attacks, people listened to Youngsy because his assured delivery was a comfort in even in the most trying moments.


So, thank you Youngsy for all that you have shared with KIOA and Des Moines in over 45 years of broadcasting. We will greatly miss our boisterous, kind, sweet and smiling friend.


-Your KIOA Family

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2009 in Uncategorized

 

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