Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame Inductees for 2017

Nine outstanding journalists will be honored during the 47th anniversary of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame Thursday, April 27, at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Master of ceremonies will be Mark Thomas, executive vice-president of the Oklahoma Press Association. 

The honorees are:

  • James Beaty, managing editor of the McAlester News-Capital
  • Steve Booher, retired from the Cherokee Messenger & Republican
  • John Durkee, news director at KWGS, Tulsa University NPR
  • Lis Exon, OETA-TV Tulsa news manager and journalist
  • Carla Hinton, religion editor for The Oklahoman
  • Randy Krehbiel, government-politics reporter for the Tulsa World
  • Dr. Paul R. Lehman, first African American newsperson on Oklahoma City TV
  • Ralph Schaefer, veteran newsman for suburban Tulsa newspapers
  • Gene Triplett, retired news and entertainment journalist, The Oklahoman.

The luncheon program begins at 11:45 a.m. on the third floor of the Nigh University Center, across from the Hall of Fame exhibition hall. 

Deadline for reservations is April 20. Invitations have been mailed and luncheon reservations are available for $20 a person. Mail checks to Terry Clark, payable to UCO, 100 N. University Dr., Edmond, OK 73034. For those who register and pay in advance, there will be no standing in line. Inquiries are welcome at tclark@uco.edu or 405-974-5122.

More than 200 journalists, friends and families are expected for the Hall of Fame. 

“The annual ceremony has become an informal homecoming for honorees and families. The Hall is a virtual Who’s Who of Oklahoma Journalism, and the crowd will be filled with the giants of the profession,” Clark said.

After 20 years as director of the Hall, Clark announced his retirement from UCO, and the appointment of Joe Hight as director beginning May 1.

“I’m excited and pleased that a journalist and Hall of Fame member of Joe’s stature has agreed to take over,” Clark said. “It’s time for new blood to lead the Hall as it approaches its 50th anniversary and some challenges. His journalistic and management experience will serve the Hall well.”

Hight also serves as the Edith Kinney Gaylord Chair of Journalism Ethics at the UCO Department of Mass Communication.

Honorees are selected by a committee composed of members of the working press and the Hall of Fame. The committee sifts through all nominations, both new ones and those held over from previous years, before selecting the honorees. Nomination forms are available at any time at the Hall of Fame, or online at the website okjournalism.uco.edu.

Framed citations are on display in the Hall of Fame in the Nigh University Center at the University of Central Oklahoma. The UCO Department of Mass Communication is the host and administrator of the Hall.

The Hall of Fame was founded in 1971 by former Journalism Chairman Dr. Ray Tassin. This year’s inductees make 418 total members, all of whom are listed on the website. The Hall is supported with funding from UCO.

This year’s honorees follow:

JAMES BEATY (1952- ), managing editor at the McAlester News-Capital, began there after graduation from East Central University in 1985. His reporting and writing, especially investigative journalism, have won a multitude of awards. He helped report and write a series exposing nepotism and other issues that led to the dismissal of the school superintendent in 2016. It earned six state and national awards, including a national SPJ first place in-depth enterprise reporting award, presented in Washington. He has twice won AP sweepstakes awards for investigating city hall corruption, leading to the firing and resignation of two city managers. His weekly column, “Rambling Round”, is a reader favorite, and has won national and state awards. Beaty was an artist-in-residence for the Oklahoma Arts and Humanities council in poetry and folk music. At East Central, he was editor of the literary magazine and won ECU’s Paul Hughes Award.

STEVE BOOHER (1947- ) began his 45-year community newspaper career as sports editor at the Winfield (KS) Daily Courier in 1969. He retired in 2014 after 34 years as general manager and publisher of the Cherokee Messenger & Republican. Booher worked as general manager of the Fairview Republican in 1971-1974, reporter at the Duncan Banner in 1974-75, managing editor at the Clinton Daily News in 1975-1979 and reporter at the Custer County Leader in 1979. Elected president of the Oklahoma Press Association in 2008, he led the Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation and served on numerous OPA committees. He is the recipient of the ONF Beachy Musselman Award. As a graduate of the “Larry Hammer school of journalism,” he’s proud of his editorial writing awards. Active in community organizations, he was named Cherokee Citizen of the Year in 1995. The Cherokee Chamber of Commerce honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

JOHN DURKEE (1955- ), with more than 40 years of radio news experience, has been the dean of Tulsa’s radio news scene since 1989 when he joined KRMG, becoming news director in 1991. He was among the first to report on mine tailings pollution at Tar Creek, working with Congressman Mike Synar. In 2008, he served as communications director for the City of Tulsa before becoming news director of the University of Tulsa’s public radio station, KWGS, in 2009. He’s a regular guest on RSU-TV public affairs programs. Tulsa Press Club named him the 2016 Media Icon. After attending Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and OSU, he worked at KTOK in Oklahoma City, KAKC in Tulsa and KFSB in Joplin. Among Durkee’s many awards as a broadcaster, he’s twice won both regional and national RTDNA Murrow Awards, and awards from the AP, UPI, SPJ, and Oklahoma and Missouri associations of broadcasters.

LIS EXON (1956- ) has served as producer, reporter and anchor at OETA-TV in Tulsa since 2006. Beginning as reporter and anchor for KXXO and KELI radio in Tulsa, she has worked as a television reporter, producer and anchor, including KJRH in Tulsa, WESH in Orlando, KUSA in Denver and KTRK in Houston, and reported for CNN, NBC and ABC. Awards dominate her work: IRE for a series leading to federal indictments and convictions of state Senate President Finis Smith and wife; the Texas Governor’s Award for an investigation leading to the passage of laws reforming the parole process. Oklahoma SPJ twice honored her as having the Best Reporter Portfolio. In 2015, she received “The Colby Award” for reporting on mental health issues. In 2016, Exon received the most awards for individual stories from SPJ, including five first places. She earned a broadcast journalism degree from the University of Tulsa in 1978.

CARLA HINTON (1966- ), religion editor at The Oklahoman since 2002, established a reputation for fair and balanced reporting, no matter the subject or religious group, especially stories about diverse communities. She joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as an American Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. From 1988 to 1989 on the community desk, she covered the City of Moore and Moore Schools, and Oklahoma City Hall from 1989 to 1996, when she became Assistant Community Editor and Community Editor in 1998 to 2000. She served as general assignment reporter from 2000 to 2002. Awards punctuate her career – 2009 Journalist of the Year by the Tulsa Association of Black Journalists; 2012 Excellence in Religious Journalism Award by the Oklahoma Conference of Churches; 2016 Friend of Faith Award from the Oklahoma Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. Others include first places in columns and enterprise reporting. An Oklahoma City native, she attended OU.

RANDY KREHBIEL (1956- ), a native of Hinton, began his journalism career interning at the Oklahoma City Times before earning a journalism degree at OSU in 1978. After a year at the Marion (IN) Chronicle-Tribune, he joined the Tulsa World’s sports staff, covering everything from college football to boxing. In 1993, he joined the news staff, covering higher education. He’s known as a consummate reporter, and for his research and analysis in helping readers understand difficult issues in Oklahoma politics, elections and state and federal politicians. His historic coverage of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission and resulting John Hope Franklin Commission was praised by the Oklahoma Eagle, the historic black newspaper. He currently covers government and politics for the Tulsa World.

DR. PAUL R. LEHMAN (1941- ) was the first African American newsperson on Oklahoma City television in 1968 at KWTV-9, where he was reporter, photographer, writer, producer, weekend anchor and news editor. In 1969, he was co-creator and host of “Soul Talk,” an African American community affairs show. His broadcast career began with radio news commentary at KCSC in Edmond in 1967. His website, www.paulrlehman.com and blog, America’s Race Problem, continue his journalism and scholarship as author, consultant and lecturer. Earning a Ph.D. at Lehigh, he became UCO’s first African American professor in 1976, serving as English professor and dean of the graduate college. He’s written numerous books, and journalistic and scholarly articles. He’s listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans and in American Education. Dr. Lehman has served on many state boards and councils and lectured throughout Oklahoma and other states. He earned B.A. and M.E. degrees from UCO.

RALPH SCHAEFER (1939- ) began his community newspaper career at the El Reno Daily Tribune in 1969 after graduating from UCO. In 1973, he joined Retherford Publications as associate editor for Southeast News, Tulsa County News and Owasso Reporter. Other than working for the Oklahoma City Journal Record from 1979 to 1981, Schaefer worked on all Retherford papers as the group grew – Skiatook Journal, Coweta American, Collinsville News, Broken Arrow Ledger, Wagoner Tribune, Bixby Bulletin, Jenks Journal, Sand Springs Leader and Mannford Eagle. Running the Tulsa Daily Business Journal and the Tulsa Daily Commerce and Legal News, he was named senior editor when they combined in 2013. He has interviewed U.S. Supreme Court Justices and did a series on the Oklahoma Supreme Court Justices. The Tulsa County Bar Association and Oklahoma Bar Association honored him with the Liberty Bell Award, the highest recognition for a non-lawyer.

GENE TRIPLETT (1949- ) began his career at The Oklahoma Journal in 1976 where he covered the Karen Silkwood lawsuit. He joined The Oklahoman in 1981, and from 1989 to 1999 was the paper’s longest serving city editor, helping direct coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing. He served as president of the AP News Executives board in 1995-96, and has been listed in Who’s Who in America. He served as entertainment writer/editor and columnist from 1999 to 2013, earning numerous awards. In 2011, Triplett was only the second journalist inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. He’s one of the founders of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. He’s interviewed dozens of celebrities, including Robert Redford about Cox dropping the Sundance Channel. His first novel, “Wheel Man,” was published in 2016. He earned a journalism degree at UCO in 1975 after serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.