THE POWER COUPLES OF OKLAHOMA JOURNALISM

most represent print, except for the “co-anchors for life”

By Billie Rodely, 2004 Inductee

The number of journalists in marriage is more common than you would think, especially if you look at the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. Twelve couples are now in the Hall of Fame. Most represent print media.  

Except for Jim and me.  

Jim Palmer and I were inducted one year apart and now are the only be broadcast couple in the Hall of Fame. Jim is a native Oklahoman, but began his radio career in Wisconsin, before quickly returning home from the cold North to work in news at various Oklahoma radio stations. I began in Indianapolis. Kansas City was my next radio news stop before I moved to Oklahoma City and worked for KTOK-AM. we met when Jim was hired as news director at KTOK, and I was assistant news director. Both of us have decades of experience reporting, editing, and anchoring. And, most importantly, we married in 1995 and became “co-anchors for life.”

Poe B. Vandament and May Vandament each spent more than five decades in publishing a newspaper work period before publishing the Yukon Sun with her husband, May was with the Bluejacket Gazette. Poe came to Oklahoma before statehood and published many papers before the Yukon Sun. Although the Sun was sold in 1948, May remained on staff working and mentoring. Poe’s service journalism, as well as civic and community affairs, earned him induction into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1949. 

J. Leland Gourley was an award-winning editor and publisher long before he launched FRIDAY, an Oklahoma City suburban weekly newspaper, in 1974. He hired Vicki Clark that same year to cover The Village. Her father was mayor of The Village at the time period the couple married in 1976 J. Leland Gourley died in 2013 and Vicky Gourley continues as the owner and publisher of Nichols Hills Publishing and FRIDAY.

Alfred W. McLaughlin was a renowned photographer. He and Joan E. Gilmore met at The Daily Oklahoman, where collectively they worked for more than 65 years. Among McLaughlin’s many awards was the National Women’s Page Photographer of the Year. Gilmore served as women’s editor of the newspaper. Together, they forged a video production and public relations business which included memorializing several Oklahoma Gridiron Shows. McLaughlin died in 2013. Gilmore continues to write and report and is an avid community volunteer. 

John D. and Gracie Montgomery are co-publishers of the Purcell Register. John’s work in the newspaper business began in his hometown at the Hobart Daily Democrat-Chief and the Kiowa County Star-Review. Gracie’s journalism career started at the Johnston County Capital-Democrat. Both have served tirelessly on every committee of the Oklahoma Press Association and are the first husband-and-wife team to have served as OPA president. The Montgomery family is active in the civic and cultural life of Purcell in McClain County.  

Michael R. “Mick” Hinton and Sue Brewster Hinton both became interested in journalism as students at the University of Oklahoma. They were married in 1968. Mick’s work includes the Oklahoma City Times, The Daily Oklahoman, and the Norman Transcript. Sue has worked for the Norman Transcript and The Oklahoman. The Hintons share a devotion to education, as Mick covered education for The Daily Oklahoman and Sue taught journalism at Oklahoma City Community College. She was the first to receive the College’s President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. 

Bill and Barbara Walter owned and operated the Hennessey Clipper and were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. They were fixtures at nearly all Oklahoma Press Association functions. Bill was a third-generation publisher of the Clipper, which had been in his family since 1904. Bill died in 2017. 

The co-publishers of The Countrywide News & Sun are Gloria and Wayne Trotter. Gloria’s professional experience isn’t limited to print journalism, as she includes television and radio news in her resume. Wayne’s history includes work for newspapers in Mississippi, Virginia, and North Carolina in 1983, the pair took on the Tecumseh Countywide News then founded, and ultimately combined, The Shawnee Sun into The Countywide & Sun in 2008. Wayne has numerous awards for his editorials and columns. Both are past presidents of the Oklahoma Press Association. 

John M. Wylie II and Faith L. Wylie might be considered a journalism “power couple.” Like most of the Hall of Fame couples, the Wylie’s have garnered numerous awards and accolades during their careers. They purchased the Oologah Lake Leader in 1984 and moved from the Kansas City area, where John worked for the Kansas City Star and was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting team. Both are well-known for their passionate pursuit of investigative reporting and adherence to Freedom of Information and Open Meetings/Open Records laws.  

Virginia Bradshaw and Jim Bradshaw met at the Shawnee News-Star when she asked him if he knew of any summer jobs. He didn’t, but instead asked her on a date. They were married for 55 years. Jim spent 39 of his 43-year career working for the News-Star, 14 years as managing editor. The stories he covered included courtroom dramas, fires, floods, elections, and labor disputes. He crusaded for improvements through his column “From This Moment.” Virginia’s standout career included writing two books and 26 years as the public affairs/general news reporter for the News-Star.  

Joe Worley and Liz Exon live in a “house divided.” Not because of their support of opposing university football teams, but because Worley is a print journalist and Exon has worked in broadcast journalism throughout her career. Again, like all members of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, their home is filled with awards and recognitions. Worley retired as executive editor of the Tulsa World, where he guided the newspaper to aggressively cover the community and state of Oklahoma. Exon has served as producer, reporter, and anchor at OETA-TV’s Tulsa bureau after years of work for radio and TV stations in Orlando, Florida and Houston, Texas and national networks. Worley served as president of the Oklahoma Press Association from 2004-2005.  

Finally, writing about John and Joy “Tinker” Hruby, the 12th Hall of Fame couple, is difficult, but an honor. The Hruby family lived in Duncan and was in newspaper publishing spanning three generations. John and Tinker met while attending Schreiner University and married in Tinker’s hometown of Kerrrville, Texas in 1989. John became publisher at the Duncan Banner in 1997 and then The Marlow Review in 2007. According to their obituary, both worked hard to produce a quality paper for the community. John was active in the Oklahoma Press Association and both loved the Duncan community. Tinker had a passion for real estate. John had interests including ham radios and model airplanes. 

John, tinker, and their daughter Katherine were murdered in their home in October 2014. Just before his death, John had returned home from a meeting to help the Boy Scouts. 

The following are the couples and the year of induction in parentheses after their names. They are listed in order of appearance in this story: Billie Rodely (2004) and Jim Palmer (2005); Poe B. Vandament (1990) and May Vandament (1990); J. Leland Gourley (1980) and Vicki Clark Gourley (2006); Alfred W. McLaughlin (1988) and Joan E. Gilmore (1994); John D. Montgomery (2005) and Gracie Montgomery (2007); Michael R. “Mick” Hinton (2003) and Sue Brewster Hinton (2009); Bill Walter (2008) and Barbara Walter (2008); Gloria Trotter (2009) and Wayne Trotter (2009); John M. Wylie II (2012) and Faith L. Wylie (2012); Joe Worley (2007) and Lis Exon (2017); and John Hruby and Joy “Tinker” Hruby (2015). 

John and Tinker Hruby.

Wayne and Gloria Trotter.