Two Prominent Media Leaders to be Inducted into C&IS Hall of Fame at UA
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A national sports broadcasting innovator and a distinguished journalist, television anchor and award-winning author will be inducted into The University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame Oct. 19. The induction ceremonies will be at the NorthRiver Yacht Club.
Established by the C&IS Board of Visitors, the Communication Hall of Fame was created in 1998 to honor, preserve and perpetuate the names and accomplishments of civic and communication personalities who have brought lasting fame to the state of Alabama. This year marks the ninth class of inductees into the Hall of Fame. These honored individuals include:
- Chet Simmons (1928- )
- Bob Inman (1943- )
“Bob and Chet represent the finest in writing and broadcasting,” said Dr. Loy Singleton, dean of C&IS. “They reached the top of their respective professions and then pursued new challenges, reaching new heights. Their accomplishments are to be admired by even the most successful, and they will serve as an inspiration for generations.”
The Communication Hall of Fame Gallery is located in the rotunda of Reese Phifer Hall on the UA campus. Permanent archives will be established and maintained for the collection of memorabilia related to the lives and careers of those chosen for placement in the Hall of Fame.
The College of Communication and Information Sciences is among the largest and most prestigious communication colleges in the country, having graduated more than 12,000 students and ranking among the top institutions in the country in the number of doctorates awarded.
Communication graduates have earned four of the six Pulitzer Prizes awarded to UA alumni.
2006 College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame Inductees
For more than four decades, Chet Simmons has made major contributions to the world of sports broadcasting and has helped shape contemporary sports television. Simmons graduated from The University of Alabama in 1950 and shortly thereafter received a master’s degree from Boston University. In 1957, Simmons joined Sports Programs Inc., a move that officially launched his career in sports television. It was not long before the Sports Programs organization evolved into the highly acclaimed ABC-TV sports lineup, including Wide World of Sports and the network’s Olympic Games coverage. While at ABC, Simmons was involved in creating the inaugural television program package for broadcasting the American Football League. Simmons’ work with the American Football League is recognized as instrumental in the league’s survival during its early years and its subsequent merger with the National Football League.
Beginning in 1964, Simmons became an executive for NBC Sports and eventually rose to the position of president, an office he inaugurated and held from 1977 to 1979. His work positioned NBC for stronger coverage of sports, including baseball, basketball and professional football. Simmons was also instrumental in the creation of the highly successful Sports World program and was involved in NBC acquiring the rights to televise NCAA football, major league baseball and the 1980 Summer Olympic Games. Many directly credit NBC’s success in sports coverage to the work of Chet Simmons.
In the late 1970s, Simmons helped launch the Entertainment and Sports programming Network, better known as ESPN. Beginning in1979, Simmons served as founding president and CEO of the network. He was instrumental in the development of the signature telecast SportsCenter and the concept to televise the NFL draft, both of which helped transform ESPN from a medium-sized cable TV network into a marketing empire. Simmons’ work established ESPN as the most successful network of its kind.
In 1982, Simmons took on the almost impossible challenge of launching The United States Football League. In 1983 the USFL debuted with 12 teams, including the Birmingham Stallions and the Memphis Showboats, as well as national TV contracts with both ESPN and ABC. The league satisfied the networks in its opening season by averaging more than 24,000 fans per game and snaring marquise players like Herschel Walker.
Simmons is currently president and CEO of his own media consulting company and is also an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches and mentors students studying in the department of sports administration.
Since 2000, Simmons has served as a director for Magnum Sports and Entertainment and has been the director for Select Media Communications since 1999. He also helped start the Savannah Sports Council and is on the board of the new and increasingly popular Farmer’s Almanac TV program. In 2005, at the 26th Annual Sports Emmy Awards, Simmons was honored by the National Television Academy with the highly acclaimed Sports Lifetime Achievement Award. Chet Simmons is a sports broadcasting pioneer.
Journalist, screenwriter, novelist and columnist, Robert Inman began his career in junior high school, writing for his hometown’s weekly newspaper, The Elba Clipper.
Upon graduating from The University of Alabama in 1965, he launched his on-air career as a reporter and anchor for WSFA-TV in Montgomery. He served as press secretary for Alabama Gov. Albert Brewer from 1968 to 1970, followed by a five-year stint as an anchor for WBT, the number one station in Charlotte, N.C. In 1975 Inman left WBT to become director of university relations for The University of Alabama, returning to WBT again in 1979. Over the next 17 years, he not only would be Charlotte’s most recognized anchor, he would also spend five years as a Sunday columnist for The Charlotte Observer.
In 1996 Inman left a 30-year career in journalism to pursue his passion for writing. He has written four novels: “Home Fires Burning,” “Old Dogs and Children,” “Dairy Queen Days” and “Captain Saturday,” all published by Little, Brown and Co. and all still in print. In 2000 the Down Home Press published a collection of his essays titled “Coming Home: Life, Love and All Things Southern.” Three of Inman’s novels were awarded the Outstanding Fiction Award by the Alabama Library Association, and three were selected by independent book dealers nationwide as “Book Sense 76” feature recommendations. In 1987, the Philadelphia Enquirer named “Home Fires Burning” one of the best books of the year.
It has been said that Inman is “a master at capturing the simple pleasures and recognizing the goodness in people” and that “the word ‘home’ resonates through the works of Robert Inman.” He has been called “one of the finest chroniclers of small-town Southern life” and a “witty, utterly charming storyteller, who portrays comedy with a full appreciation for its tenderness and pain.”
Inman’s debut screenplay, “Crossroads,” a musical comedy for which he wrote the script, lyrics and music, premiered in June 2003 at the Blowing Rock Stage Company in Blowing Rock, N.C. Numerous theater companies nationwide have produced “Crossroads.” The Blowing Rock Stage Company also produced Inman’s play “The Christmas Bus,” and his adaptation of “Dairy Queen Days” will premiere in October 2006. Inman has written six motion picture screenplays, including two Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations, one of which, “The Summer of Ben Tyler,” was awarded the 1997 Writers Guild of America Award for best original television screenplay. Inman claims to take the same approach to writing a screenplay as he does a novel or even a newspaper column: “start with the basics, start with the people and tell their story.”
Inman graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in radio and television and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from The University of Alabama, and he holds an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Queens College of Charlotte. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Authors Guild, Writers Guild of America, Dramatists Guild, PEN American Center, North Carolina Writers Network and Alabama Writers Forum. In 1989 he was named “Outstanding Alumnus” by the College of Communication and Information Sciences at UA, and in 2002 he was inducted into the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity Hall of Fame.
Inman resides in Charlotte and Boone, N.C., with his wife, Paulette; they have two daughters. Despite numerous accomplishments and awards, this hugely successful broadcast journalist and author likes to think of himself as “just a small-town kid and a storyteller.”
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.
- CONTACT: Deidre Stalnaker, UA Media Relations, 205/348-3782, firstname.lastname@example.org
- SOURCE: Bonnie LaBresh, UA College of Communication and Information Sciences, 205/348-5868