FJSA Hall of Honor
The Texas A&M Former Journalism Students Association began in 1994 in connection with the Battalion's 100th anniversary celebration. Each year, it holds either a banquet or reception and, since 1996, has honored a distinguished alumnus or alumna with induction into its Hall of Honor.
Plaques honoring them hang in the newsroom of The Battalion:
Photo by Jonny Green/The Battalion
If you know an A&M journalism/ag journalism grad who has set a shining example of excellence, please send his or her name, year of graduation, and a brief explanation of why she or he should be considered to one of the FJSA officers.
2007: McElroy '81 2006: Santos '78 2005: Heidtke '81 2004: Curl '70
2003: Hotard '65 2002: Krenek '78 2001: Pigg '54 2001: Pengelly '53
2000: Dromgoole '66 1999: Shafer '67 1998: DeFrank '67 1996: Hargrove '66
Roland Martin '91
In a career not yet spanning more than two decades, Roland Martin has covered the 1992 Republican National Convention, the Oklahoma City bombing and the fatal standoff between the federal authorities and the Branch Davidian religious sect near Waco. He broke the story when drug possession charges were filed on former Dallas Cowboys football star Michael Irvin and he helped revitalize a black Chicago newspaper, where he once took President George W. Bush to task for legacy admissions at universities.
Now a CNN analyst, Martin, who provided commentary during the Democratic and Republican national conventions this summer, is an award-winning journalist with experience as a newspaper editor, radio talk show host, magazine writer, Web publisher and book author. He's a nationally syndicated columnist and a Chicago-based radio host.
His 2007 interview with Sen. Barack Obama won the 2008 NAACP Image Award for Best Interview, and this year he also received the National Association of Black Journalists' Presidents Award for his multimedia work.
Martin, arguably one of the most famous Aggie journalists, makes no secret of his alma mater. He regularly mentions Texas A&M on air, often refers to his Aggie ring and, at least once, slipped in a reference to the university in a question he posed to President Bush during a Unity Journalists of Color Convention.
Texas newspapers where he's worked include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Austin American-Statesman and the Dallas-Fort Worth Heritage (a Christian monthly newspaper that he once owned) and the Bryan-College Station Eagle. He was morning drive reporter for KRLD/1080 AM; news director and morning anchor at KKDA-AM in Dallas.
He has earned a regional Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio Television News Directors Association; several first place awards from the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators; two citations from the National Associated Press-Managing Editors Conference; the top sports reporting award from the National Association of Black Journalists; and honors from the Houston Press Club.
Martin graduated from Texas A&M in 1991 with a bachelor of science degree in journalism.
Kathleen McElroy '81
Kathleen McElroy, a native of Houston, started out at Texas A&M covering sports and culture for the Battalion. Here's what she had to say about the experience:
"When I was 17, I decided to attend Texas A&M over Princeton because the Aggies had a better football team. My logic might have been fuzzy, but I've never regretted the decision. In fact, I thrived under the nurturing of my instructors and the patience of my fellow Batt colleagues. I might have been the world's worst Batt staffer, but I learned from the talent surrounding me."
She graduated in 1981 with a degree in broadcast journalism, which she promptly put to work at a newspaper: starting her career, as so many of us have, at the Bryan-College Station Eagle in 1983 after leaving A&M.
Moving up through a string of newspapers, she worked as a copy editor and designer, also writing film reviews and a tennis column along the way. Kathleen worked in news, sports and features at the Eagle, the Huntsville Item, the Austin American-Statesman, landing at Newsday in 1987 and then an all-sports daily called The National.
She was hired at the New York Times in 1991 and quickly became deputy sports editor, serving as on-side editor for both the 1996 and 2002 Olympics. As an associate managing editor in 2002, she oversaw the paper's 9/11 anniversary editions.
Her next post was what a Times spokeswoman described as Kathleen's "dream job, given her passion for food, editing and New York City" - Dining Editor. Kathleen currently lives in the West Village, in Manhattan.
Most recently she was the Times' senior editor for News Administration, ran the paper's top-viewed sports blog of 2006, the U.S. Open tennis blog, and served as its lead writer and commentator this year. As A&M's most recent Journalist-in-Residence, she spent a week here in April teaching seniors how to review ethnic cultures other than their own, using examples in food and film.
And now that the U.S. Open has ended, as of this month, she is the New York Times' senior editor for continuous news: writing and editing, coordinating blogs and slideshows for nytimes.com, the single most popular newspaper Web site in the country.
Rolando Santos '78
During his years as a television news reporter, director, producer and executive, Rolando Santos has wielded significant influence over the rapidly evolving worlds of 24/7 journalism and Spanish-language coverage.
Santos recently was appointed senior vice president, international relations, for CNN International. In this role, he is responsible for developing future CNN services and partnerships across the globe. He also is editorial liaison to CNN sister channels in Turkey and India and oversees CNN's International Professional Program, which brings international journalists to Atlanta for training.
Before assuming his current duties, Santos was executive vice president and general manager of Headline News, shaping its development and operations since 2002. Prior to that, he was president of CNN en Español. He played a key role in launching and operating the 24-hour Spanish-language network, in addition to helping start international outlets CNN+ and CNN Turk. Santons also was responsible for CNN's Spanish-language news gathering, accomplished through a bilingual staff in Atlanta, Spanish-speaking correspondents around the world and full-service bureaus in eight major cities.
Santos joined CNN in 1993. He previously worked for Telemundo as executive producer for network news and the liaison with CNN for jointly produced newscasts. He also was news director for KVEA-TV, a Los Angeles station owned by Telemundo. During his tenure at KVEA, the station won the 1992 Emmy Award for Best Newscast, a first for a Spanish-language newscast.
The Eagle Pass native has won numerous awards for his reporting, including a UPI regional award for best writing. He was recently named one of the most influential Hispanics in the United States by Hispanic Magazine.
Santos, who earned a bachelor of arts in journalism from Texas A&M, is an alumnus of KBTX-TV in Bryan, as well as stations in San Antonio, Salt Lake City and San Francisco. He returned to his alma mater in spring 2006 to teach Aggie journalism minors through the university's Journalists-in-Residence program, and he has provided additional support for students through internships at CNN. Santos and his wife, Pam, live with their twin daughters in Atlanta.
Jon Heidtke '81
Jon Heidtke has helped market and transform FSN Southwest from a mere concept in the mid-1990s into a regional powerhouse and national leader in sports media.
As a senior vice president and general manager of FSN Southwest, Heidtke oversees an operation that reaches more than 8 million cable and satellite television homes in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and parts of New Mexico.
Heidtke became one of the youngest general managers in the regional sports television industry in October 1994 when, at age 34, he was named to the top post at Home Sports Entertainment, the predecessor to FSN Southwest. He was promoted to his current position in November 1996.
Under Heidtke's guidance, FSN Southwest has secured long-term programming agreements with the Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars and University Interscholastic League.
Prior to joining FSN Southwest, Heidtke managed a 15-state region for ESPN as a Southwest account manager and spent three years as regional sales manager for SportsVision, which became FSN Chicago. His career as a sports television executive started in 1983 as an eastern region account executive for SportsTime, a regional sports network launched in St. Louis by Anheuser-Busch. Also in 1983, he was radio play-by-play voice of the Texas League champion Beaumont Golden Gators minor league baseball team.
Heidtke worked for the A&M sports information department, The Battalion, The Bryan-College Station Eagle and KBTX-TV during his college career. He earned his degree in jouranlism from Texas A&M in 1981. A die-hard Aggie, Heidtke sits on the 12th Man Foundation's advisory board. He and his wife, Sandy, live in Coppell, Texas, with their three children.
Thomas L. Curl '70
The smallest magazine Tom Curl ever worked on was The Agriculturist, a quarterly student-written publication that in the 1960s circulated to students and faculty in the College of Agriculture at Texas A&M University. But it was a magazine, and magazines – among them some of the nation's most respected and widely read – that have been Tom's passion for more than 30 years.
Tom grew up in San Juan in the Lower Rio Grande Valley and spent his college summers working on a ranch in the Panhandle. He graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in agricultural journalism in 1970 and took his first job in Lubbock writing news stories for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. Some of Tom's stories were picked up by Progressive Farmer, and by 1972 he was on the staff, helping cover Texas and surrounding states for Progressive Farmer, the largest regional farm magazine in the country.
He rose rapidly at the magazine, becoming managing editor in 1981 at the corporate office in Birmingham, Ala. In little more than a year Tom was promoted again, becoming managing editor of Southern Living, the largest lifestyle magazine in the South, with a circulation of 2.4 million. Both magazines were among five owned by Southern Progress Corp., the largest regional magazine and book publisher in the country.
In 1991, after a four-year stint as editorial director of Progressive Farmer, Tom was named vice president and editor-in-chief of all Southern Progress magazines. While he was editor at Progressive Farmer, the magazine was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for its groundbreaking series on farm safety issues.
In 1994, Tom joined Reiman Publications, a magazine and book publisher in Greendale, Wis., that produces a dozen national magazines with a total of 16 million subscribers. Tom became president of the company a year later and in 1998 was named its chief executive officer. He was the founding editor of Birds and Blooms (circulation 2 million) and directed three of the top four food magazines in the country (Taste of Home, Quick Cooking and Light & Tasty).
Tom left Reiman in 2003 and now does consulting work. He and his wife, Lynda, have one son, Rob, who is a student at the University of Missouri.
Throughout his long magazine career, Tom says he has most enjoyed seeing how magazines can be a powerful, positive force for good in people's lives. "Service journalism — really listening to what readers want and then providing information to help them improve their lives — that's been the highlight for me," he says. "That, and I've had the chance to work with and learn from some very talented and dedicated people."
John Hotard '65
John Hotard started his journalism career in 1966 as a humor columnist for The Battalion at Texas A&M. He had a 10-week internship in 1967 at the Fort Stockton Pioneer weekly newspaper before returning to Aggieland, where he went back to making people laugh and think through his writing. The Bryan native, a journalism major, was scheduled to graduate in 1965, but he put his education on hold for two years while serving on active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1963 to 1965. His roots run deep in Aggieland – the campus dorm Hotard Hall was named for John's father, Joseph Clifton "Cliff" Hotard, who ran Texas A&M's food service department for many years.
After graduation, he worked for The Associated Press for more than 14 years, serving as a reporter/editor in Houston, Austin and Dallas. His last seven years with the AP were spent as Texas state editor, coordinating the day-to-day news coverage in the state and overseeing the Dallas hub operation. He supervised some 30 reporters.
Hotard joined American Airlines in 1984. He quickly rose to the rank of manager of media relations in the company's Corporate Communications Department. Hotard's focus in 2003 remains on the operations side of the airline and working with key business media in the country.
Hotard is a star member of American Airlines' Corporate Communications Crisis Response Team and is assigned to the airline's Go-Team, which is dispatched to the scenes of crashes and major incidents. His responsibilities include working with media and the public affairs office of the National Transportation Safety Board.
He is on the cabinet of the Van Cliburn Foundation in Fort Worth and is a member of the Jewel Charity Ball. He is a founding member of the Texas A&M Former Journalism Students Association and served as president in 1999-2000.
Debby Krenek '78
Debby Krenek has met the challenges along the way during a meteoric rise to the top of American journalism.
After serving as Battalion editor, Krenek graduated Summa Cum Laude with B.A. degrees in journalism and marketing in 1978 from Texas A&M University. She joined the Corpus Christi Caller Times' news desk after graduation, then moved after two years to the Dallas Times Herald. In six years there, she served as a copy editor, deputy News Editor, assistant business Editor and News Editor.
In 1987, Krenek ventured into the big time, becoming Deputy Managing Editor/News at the New York Daily News, one of the nation's largest and widely-read newspapers. Ten years later, after serving as Managing Editor and Executive Editor, Krenek became the first female Editor-in-Chief in the paper's 77-year history. During her tenure, the Daily News won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
She became Associate Editor, Special Projects at Newsday in 2001, charged with improving and expanding Newsday.com. Editor and Publisher called it the best newspaper Web site that year.
Said Krenek of her career, "I feel lucky to have had such a great life."
Her accomplishments suggest it was more than luck.
Calvin Pigg '54
Calvin Pigg graduated from Texas A&M in 1955 with a bachelor's degree in agricultural journalism. After graduation, Pigg joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as an agricultural writer. He returned to Texas A&M to serve as assistant editor for Texas A&M's Agricultural Information Office.
From 1959 until 1962, Pigg served in various capacities with two radio and television stations before moving to Renner in 1962 to serve as head of agricultural services and permanent secretary for the Hoblitzelle Awards of the Texas Research Foundation. In 1972, he was appointed area communications specialist for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service in Dallas.
Pigg served as editor of the Southwest Farm Press in Richardson in 1974; he served as editor until his retirement in 1999. According to his award citation, the Southwest Farm Press became an authoritative voice, providing information on agricultural issues and events for farmers, agricultural leaders and government officials.
Allen Pengelly '53
While Allen Pengelly '53 was at A&M, he was editor of The Battalion as well as a member of the first journalism class after the course became accredited as a degree. He also worked at WTAW as a newsman and disc jockey. He took a break from his studies to join the Navy and served aboard the USS Lake Champlain, writing, editing and publishing the ship's newspaper on his Remington typewriter. He later returned to A&M and completed his degree in 1956.
After spending time in Germany, he returned to Texas and worked at radio stations in Baytown and Galveston. He soon began working at KPRC radio but moved on to covering the police beat for The Houston Post.
In 1966, Pengelly was asked to join the staff of KTRK-TV, Channel 13 in Houston. During his 28-year career at KTRK, he served as news assignments editor, news photographer and news producer. While he was producer of Channel 13's 10 o'clock news, the newscast went from No. 3 in the rating to No. 1. He eventually was asked to produce the 6 o'clock newscast and did double duty, producing the 10 o'clock and the 6 o'clock newscasts until the earlier newscast was expanded to an hour, when he took on the role of co-producer.
Pengelly retired from Channel 13 in 1994.
Glenn Dromgoole '66
Glenn Dromgoole was a Texas journalist for more than 30 years, including 14 with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He was editor of the Bryan-College Station Eagle and then the Abilene Reporter-News. He served as president of the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors Association in 1996-97.
The newspapers Dromgoole led reflected his special commitment to community journalism. Local news coverage was paramount; the reporting complete, responsible and fair. He had a creative eye for newspaper design, and section fronts reflected his originality and flair. He was an early proponent of the use of color photos and graphics to tell news stories, now standard in newspapers today. The editorial page was a voice he honored and used effectively to point out the greater good; his personal columns reflected his warmth and generosity of spirit. He inspired his staffs by his commitment to excellence, seasoned with a healthy sense of humility and humor.
He graduated from Texas A&M in 1966. While at the university, he was editor of The Battalion in 1965-66 and was named the department's outstanding graduate in 1966. He was a national Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan in 1974-75 and received his master's in journalism from what is now Texas A&M-Commerce in 1976.
Dromgoole left journalism in 1997 to write books. He continues to live in Abilene, where he is active in the Literacy Council and the Abilene Community Theatre.
Leroy Shafer '67
After graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in agricultural journalism, Leroy Shafer completed a master's degree in technical journalism at Iowa State University.
In 1973, Shafer joined the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which has now become the second largest fair, festival or event in North America. In his current position as assistant general manager, Shafer oversees the marketing, information systems and presentation department. This department is responsible for all marketing activities, promotion, advertising, media coordination, business information and communications systems and audio-visual presentation and production.
Under Shafer's direction, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has developed a complete in-house advertising and marketing agency. This unit includes a computerized market research and media buying department, an in-house production and advertising agency, graphics facilities, public and media relations agency and a radio and television production facility.
Shafer has been instrumental in developing the livestock show and rodeo into an internationally known entertainment and sporting event extravaganza. He has been the executive producer of numerous national and international video presentations promoting the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, youth, education and the agriculture industry.
Thomas M. DeFrank '67
Tom DeFrank is an outstanding reporter whose long tenure on the White House beat is second only to that of Helen Thomas of United Press International.
DeFrank's distinguished career at Newsweek magazine spanned four decades. He took his first Presidential trip with Lyndon Johnson while an intern for Newsweek in 1968. Two years later he began covering the Presidency, and traveled extensively with Richard Nixon from 1970 to 1972. He reported on the activities of Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton while he rose to become the magazine's senior White House correspondent. He also served as deputy chief of Newsweek's Washington bureau for 12 years.
In 1996, DeFrank became Washington bureau chief for the New York Daily News, where he directs coverage of the nation's capital for the country's second largest metropolitan daily newspaper.
Before joining Newsweek, DeFrank served two years in the U.S. Army as a public affairs officer with the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. He also was a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Bryan-College Station Eagle and the Minneapolis Star. A native of Arlington, Texas, DeFrank majored in journalism and was editor of The Battalion at Texas A&M, where he graduated with high honors in 1967. He also earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota in 1968.
Tom Hargrove '66
Tom Hargrove is a distinguished writer and publisher whose life work has involved finding ways to get practical agricultural publications into the hands of farmers throughout the Third World.
He worked for 18 years as a writer and editor with the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. By 1989, under his leadership, the institute had published 33 books in more than 40 languages in 29 countries. This included "A Farmer's Primer on Growing Rice," the world's most widely published agricultural book. He left the Philippines for Cali, Colombia, in 1992 where he headed the communications unit for the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.
On his way to work one day in September 1994, Hargrove was kidnapped by Colombian rebels and held for ransom. For 11 months, he lived in chains in primitive camps in the Andes. In an extraordinary display of courage and tenacity, Hargrove survived his ordeal and, starving, stumbled out to the mountains after his family had negotiated his release. Hargrove kept a daily journal, scribbled on checkbook stubs and other scraps of paper. His diary became an inspiring book, "Long March to Freedom: Tom Hargrove's own story of his kidnaping by Colombian Narco-Guerrillas."
Hargrove grew up on a cotton farm in Rotan, Texas, and graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in agricultural journalism in 1966.