Earl Freudenberg Inducted Into Tennessee Journalism Hall Of Fame At Murfreesboro Ceremony

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Earl Freudenberg
Earl Freudenberg

Chattanooga radio icon Earl Freudenberg was officially inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Murfreesboro on Tuesday.

Mr. Freudenberg had over 50 years in broadcast journalism. He was named State Broadcaster of the Year in 1981 by The Tennessee Associated Press.

The induction took place in conjunction with the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters Annual Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center.

Here is Mr. Freudenberg's acceptance speech:

Thank you very much.  This induction into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of fame comes as a total surprise and there are many people I need to thank. First, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who made this all possible. My wife Julie, our daughter Amy and Son Mark.  They lived a lot of my job with me. 

I’m also grateful to the hundreds of fellow broadcasters who made the journey possible. Many young students passed through our WDOD newsroom.

May I share with you a brief history of how I got here.

My career started in 1962 at WAPO radio.    My first journalism encounter was the 1965 kidnapping of Dr. Robert Demos.    The suspect was arrested later in Rome, Georgia.     Little did I know my reports would end up on ABC radio news, our network.   I sounded like a kid and I was.   

In 1967 something similar happened. The Peerless Mill in Rossville suffered a major fire. My interviews ended up on CBS, WDOD’s network.  I was amazed at hearing veteran journalist Bob Trout say Earl Freudenberg has our report.  I was the only one who had quotes from Commissioner Bookie Turner which ended up in both Chattanooga newspapers. 

The 70’s saw me at the American Forces Network in Germany. I gleaned much from those veteran journalists.  I returned home as news director at WDOD.

Three big stories I covered in that decade were the 1974 plane crash that claimed the life of TV news anchor Mort Lloyd.  Mr. Lloyd had just been elected the Democratic nominee for the Third Dstrict congressional seat.

Also I remember the collapse of the Hamilton National Bank in August, 1976. Our sales manager suffered substantial financial loss. He was the one who had given  me the tip.

In 1976,  Governor Ray Blanton got into trouble.  I learned at the end of his career from press secretary Brooks Parker that Drue Smith and I were the only two reporters with whom he agreed to talk. 

In the early 80’s I was elected to two terms as president of the society of professional journalists in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia.  Chattanoogan Tom Griscom arranged for Senator Howard Baker to speak to us.   

Governor Lamar Alexander also used SDX to launch his Better Schools Campaign.

The chapter sent me to Milwaukee for the annual convention where I met Walter Cronkite and some of his broadcast partners. 

We covered many major stories in the 80’s and 90’s. They included the closing and re-opening of the historic Tivoli Theater in Chattanooga.  Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass were guests at both events.  I was honored to serve as emcee. 

Most folks didn’t know but I slept with a scanner earplug.    When the dispatcher would get excited, I’d wake up.  Many stories were captured that way.   Once I was in the hospital and wanted to take my scanner with me.  My Doctor said no. 

The most complex story of my career was the fall of Hutchenson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe.  I was working for a North Georgia TV station in 2010 and assigned to this story.  There were five different boards trying to run everything.  Erlanger Medical Center came in  but that didn’t work.  Ultimately it ended up in court for settlement.

Then there was my telephone call to Paul Harvey on his birthday.  I had no idea he would answer the phone.   I told him listeners in Chattanooga wished him a happy birthday.  On the air he thanked everyone across the country for birthday wishes especially listeners to Earl Freudenberg at WDOD.

How many people do you know who dread going to work.   During my career I eagerly anticipated each day.

When I retired, friends urged me to volunteer.  So I am doing something I love - radio.     I’m helping out at WDYN - the last station where I was employed prior to retiring.   I also write occasionally for John Wilson's Chattanoogan.com. 

I wish to congratulate the others being inducted especially the AP’s Joe Edwards. I think I aggravated him with my many calls through the years.   Just think, we had to call Joe back in the day because there wasn’t a Google. 

I’m humbled to have been chosen for this prestigious award.

In closing, in the words of the late Glen Campbell,

“Friends are a gift from almighty God”,

Campbell goes on,

“Friends come in both sexes.

In all shapes and sizes.

The most important thing they have in Common

Is the ability to share with you  your most sky spilling joys”.

My thanks to all of you, my friends for being here to share with me this joyous  occasion. 

 

- photo by Ben Cagle

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