Pam Ohrt of Wartburg College is the 2019 Jack Shelley Award winner. She received the award from the Iowa Broadcast News Association at its April 13th convention in Johnston.
The award is named after the long-time WHO news director who later taught at Iowa State University. The Shelley Award is the highest honor an Iowa broadcast journalist can receive.
Ohrt had a 27-year professional career in radio news, most of it at KOEL radio in Oelwein where she served as assistant news director to the legendary Dick Petrik. She became news director when Petrik retired.
KOEL had a major commitment to news at that time with a news staff of four full-timers and one part-timer. They had a unique operation, making more than 200 daily phone calls in a several county area to police departments, sheriff’s offices, city halls and county courthouses to gather stories.
Ohrt brought her professional experience to the classroom during a lengthy teaching career, including the last 13 years at Wartburg College. At Wartburg, she teaches journalism and radio broadcasting, and advises KWAR, the student radio station.
“I absolutely love instilling this passion in students and watching them blossom as they learn how to do radio shows and do their newscasts,” Ohrt said.
“A lot of them will say ‘I didn’t think I was really going to like this, but I absolutely love it,’ and that’s what it’s all about for me,” she said.
Tyler French, a former student and one of the award nominators, currently works in radio. He says Ohrt pushed him to become a better journalist.
“She applies the perfect guiding hand to the students on staff, allowing them to succeed and learn from mistakes, but also making sure things are accomplished and KWAR continues as one of the best college radio stations around,” French said.
See a complete list of Jack Shelley Award winners.