the Hall of Fame newsroom in the 1980s
By Joe Hight, 2013 Inductee
In a small newsroom, the Shawnee News-Star was filled with future Hall of Famers when I worked there in the 1980s.
I worked there twice, between a short stint at The Lawton Constitution and Morning Press where I also worked with Hall of Famers Ted Ralston, Paul McClung, and Jeff Dixon in the newsroom. I also worked there with columnist and author Jon Talton.
But the News-Star’s newsroom was special. It was a close-knit group who did things such as play paper baseball with each other during lulls in the evening, endured a flood in the newsroom and many calls from a publisher who drank too much, and ate and spent time with each other often, even outside the newsroom.
Until I was working on this book, I hadn’t realized how special they were. The newsroom was led by managing editor Jim Bradshaw when I was there. Bradshaw, who spent most of his career in Shawnee, was known as a fiery journalist, but who was a sensitive boss with a great sense of humor. Every night we would hear his stories, including how he was once thrown into jail by the sheriff because of his reporting.
In 1995, Bradshaw was the first of that group to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But five others from that same newsroom would join him. Five of the six spent most of their careers at the News-Star. Sports Editor Roy Angel was the first in 2000. Mike McCormick, who later became executive editor, followed in 2005. I, who might be considered the group’s short timer, would follow in 2013. Photographer Ed Blochowiak was inducted a year later. And, Virginia Bradshaw, one of the most pleasant and persistent reporters I’ve ever known, joined her husband in the Hall of Fame in 2016. I suspect others such as Fred Fehr, who followed Angel as a longtime sports editor and worked in the same newsroom, will become part of this Hall of Fame group someday.
The newsroom was so talented that it won the Oklahoma Press Association’s coveted Sweepstakes Award for the first time while I was there as city editor under Jim Bradshaw.
I’ve been fortunate to meet and work with many great journalists, including those at The Oklahoman. But I now realize how fortunate I was to start with some of the finest early in my career.