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WGLT announces Hall of Fame, 2018 inaugural class

WGLT hall of fame inductees

The inaugural honorees are, clockwise from top left, Gilbert "Delta" Frank Black, Kathryn Carter, Don Munson, Ben Paxton, Robert and Marilyn Sutherland, Brendan Banaszak, and Ralph Smith.

WGLT has cultivated a strong culture of public service excellence for more than 53 years. New in 2018, WGLT launched a Hall of Fame to recognize those who have made contributions integral to WGLT’s ongoing excellence in public service to the Illinois State University, Bloomington-Normal, and McLean County communities. Selections will be announced annually.

The inaugural class features seven individuals who have made invaluable contributions to WGLT over the years as administrators, on-air personalities, staff, and donors.

The 2018 WGLT Hall of Fame honorees are:

Gilbert “Delta” Frank Black, on-air personality. Black was known for nearly 30 years as “The Blues Doctor” for his knowledge of blues music, infectious enthusiasm (both on and off air), and passionate, down home southern-style showmanship. Black’s WGLT tenure began in 1985 as host of the “Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.” That one hour recorded show evolved into live weekend shows where he helped ignite a vibrant Central Illinois blues scene, and introduced listeners to a variety of artists, styles and record labels. He truly believed what he often preached on-air: “If you don’t like the blues, you’ve got a hole in your soul.”

Kathryn Carter, staff. Carter served as WGLT development director from 1990 to 2008. Under her leadership, the development area grew from a solo position to a four-person team. Carter spearheaded enormous growth in financial support from the community, including individual contributions, underwriting, and event sponsorships, accounting for growth from 15 to 50 percent of WGLT’s operating budget. Carter received the 2003 Outstanding Fund Raising Professional award by the National Society Fund Raising Professionals, and she extended her leadership and accomplishments within numerous McLean County community groups.

Don Munson, on-air personality. Munson was arguably the most popular and well-known radio personality in Bloomington-Normal when he came to WGLT, thanks to his time as morning host at WJBC spanning from 1965 until 2000. During that tenure, WJBC earned national notoriety for ratings dominance in its local market, and Munson himself earned a national Marconi award as radio personality of the year in 1989. For 17 years he hosted “Radio Munson,” a weekly big band show, on WGLT until retiring for good in 2017. Throughout his career, Munson was a vocal proponent of local journalism, and particularly local broadcasting, as being integral to vibrant communities.

Ben Paxton, administrator. An experienced broadcaster and professor prior to his time at Illinois State, Paxton came to ISU as an assistant professor in 1965, and served as WGLT’s general manager from the time it signed on the air in 1966 until his retirement in 1991. He oversaw the transition of WGLT from a student-run, campus-only operation to a professionally staffed educational station, started the station’s ongoing affiliation with National Public Radio, and shepherded the station through several fundraising challenges. His vision of WGLT as a source for education, information, and culture, and as a facilitator of community dialogue remains in place to this day. Paxton passed away in March 2016.

Ralph Smith, administrator. As director of Illinois State (Normal) University’s Radio-Television program beginning in 1959, Smith’s vision for campuswide educational broadcasting laid the foundation for what would become WGLT and student-run TV-10 and WZND. Smith taught at ISU until 1984, published several books on broadcasting, and was an active community volunteer and advocate for civil rights, serving for six years on the State of Illinois’ Commission on Human Relations. His signature is on WGLT’s first FCC license application. Smith passed away in May 2017.

Robert and Marilyn Sutherland, contributors. Robert Sutherland served as an English professor at Illinois State from 1964-1993, was a member of the Academic Senate and participated in curricular reform and shared governance. Marilyn Sutherland spent her professional career as an obstetrics nurse in Bloomington-Normal, advocating for new parents. Both have been active in a host of community organizations, striving for social justice and equal opportunity. GLT supporters since 1986, the couple founded the Robert and Marilyn Sutherland Endowment for WGLT Operations in 2011 to help “to ensure the survival and stability of a valuable community resource.”

In addition to the seven Hall of Fame inductees, WGLT also created an Alumni Award honoring an Illinois State University student worker or intern who started their career at WGLT. The 2018 Alumni Award recipient is Brendan Banaszak. Banaszak served as a student-host for “All Things Considered” from 1999-2002. He now serves as executive producer of podcasts at WBEZ in Chicago. Banaszak won a Peabody for his work on NPR’s team that covered the earthquake in China in 2008.

Inductees were chosen from a list of nominees provided by WGLT staff and the WGLT Friends Council. Any volunteer, contributor, former employee, or intern may be nominated for selection, though current full-time and part-time are ineligible. Learn more about the WGLT Hall of Fame.

WGLT public radio is an NPR member station licensed to Illinois State since 1966 and has been a part of the School of Communication since 1997. The station has been honored with scores of regional and national awards for excellence by The Associated Press, Kaleidoscope, Public Radio News Directors, Inc. and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association. Over the decades, support from ISU and the community has allowed GLT to become a full service public radio station, serving a central Illinois audience approaching 30,000 listeners a week at 89.1 FM, as well as a growing digital presence with users all over the world via WGLT.org, social media channels and NPR One app.

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