More than a dozen friends of Rockbridge Advocate editor Doug Harwood, W&L ’74, drove from Lexington to Richmond to see him inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame on April 11. Harwood, not given to wearing a coat or tie around town, looked surprisingly natural in black tie as he ducked to receive the ribbon around his neck holding a distinguished-looking medal. The Lexington contingent, there in the huge Virginia ballroom of the John Marshall, rose from dinner tables in a standing ovation.
The Virginia Hall of Fame, in its 26th year, has honored among its 145 inductees quite a few world-famous journalists and many with W&L connections: Tom Wolfe, Roger Mudd, Charlie McDowell, Tom Riegel, Mike Allen. Among the five inducted last night was National Geographic writer Don Belt, who attended W&L before transferring to University of South Carolina. One of the two Masters of Ceremonies was Virginia Commonwealth University professor of broadcast journalism and public relations Bill Oglesby, W&L ’77. Brian Richardson, W&L ’73 and currently a professor in this department, serves on the Hall of Fame selection committee. Richardson was at the dinner and ceremony with his wife, Frances, along with department colleagues Bob de Maria and Doug Cumming, and University Photographer Patrick Hinely ’73.
The Hall of Fame includes a range of communication careers. The latest five included Richmond’s long-time AP bureau chief Dorothy Abernathy, Richmond Times-Dispatch president and publisher Tom Silvestri and a creative ad director at the Richmond-based Martin Agency, Steve Bassett, who came up with the GEICO gecko.
But Harwood stood out among these and his distinguished predecessor as happily stuck in the role of small-town newspaper editor – and producer of an eclectic, continuing radio musical program he started 41 years ago at WLUR-FM, “The Anti Headache Machine.” In a stirring acceptance speech, which he was revising up to the last minute, Harwood recommended the rewards of a practice that time and technology have not changed much in 40 years – faithfully reporting on a community’s public affairs.