Journalism Hall of Famers show humility, humor at induction banquet Saturday
Betsy Pollard Rau began her acceptance speech at the Journalism Hall of Fame banquet Saturday with a prop from one of her favorite old jokes.
Rau’s joke — a set of Billy Bob teeth — was one of many as she and five others were inducted into the Central Michigan University Journalism Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Soaring Eagle Inn and Conference Center, 5665 E. Pickard St.
Terry Foster, Jeffrey R. Caponigro, Matt Dobek, Monetta Richey Harr and Rick McKay were the others to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame. The inductees shared happiness and gratitude during the event.
Rau is a retired award-winning high school journalism teacher who now works at CMU as the adviser of Grand Central Magazine and professor of online journalism. She said her students showed her the importance of her job.
“I learned early in my career that I had the best of both worlds,” Rau said. “Every student has a story to tell, and if you want to be a teacher, you need to know them and what they are about.”
The 2009 Young Journalist of the Year award went to 2004 alumnus Chris Gautz, a former editor at Central Michigan Life.
Gautz said he hopes the award is a foreshadowing of greater things to come.
“It was very humbling and surprising to find out I’d won the award,” he said. “The staff responded to my nomination like the country responded to (President Barack) Obama getting the Peace Prize — with ‘For what?’”
Former CMU president Michael Rao made an appearance via a pre-recorded introductory video praising Caponigro.
Caponigro, who founded and owns Caponigro Public Relations, established CMU’s Caponigro Public Relations Endowed Scholarship and funded the Caponigro Multimedia Lab.
“I’ve heard about people who need no introduction, but I’m not one of them,” he said after Rao’s video. “Tonight, to be inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame, for that I am most grateful.”
‘You need friends’
Five of the inductees were Central Michigan Life alumni.
Jim Wojcik, who advised several of the honored graduates and helped find the Hall of Fame, received thanks from the inductees for his toughness during their time at CMU.
Foster, who once convinced Wojcik to help him start an unsuccessful jean design business, was known for his enterprising spirit and humor. Foster reminisced about his experiences with Central Michigan Life and Wojcik, maintaining that though the journalism industry changed, he did not.
“I’m the same guy who started my own newspaper, the Vancouver Times, when I was 10,” Foster said. “Vancouver was the name of my street — the circulation was five.”
Foster is now a sports columnist for the Detroit News and co-hosts the radio show ‘Valenti and Foster.’ He said his success was built on more than just hard work.
“You cannot do it alone,” Foster said. “You need friends, you need family and you need mentors to get behind this podium.”
Other inductees included Dobek, vice president of public relations for the Detroit Pistons; Harr, a longtime writer for the Jackson Citizen Patriot; and McKay, deputy photo editor for the White House.
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