Four newspapermen, including two former Missouri Press Association presidents, will be inducted in September into the Association’s Newspaper Hall of Fame.
The induction reception and banquet are scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, during MPA’s 152nd Annual Convention and Trade Show at the Sheraton Westport Chalet in St. Louis. This will be the 28th group to be inducted into the Newspaper Hall of Fame, which was established by MPA in 1991.
This year’s inductees are the late Wendell Redden, former sports editor for The Joplin Globe; Kent Ford, former editor for Missouri Press Association and former newspaper publisher; Joe May, former publisher of the Mexico Ledger and former MPA president; and Jim Robertson, former managing editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune and former MPA president.
Hall of Fame inductees or their families receive Pinnacle Awards in honor of the inductees’ service to the Missouri newspaper industry and their communities. Inductees’ plaques will join the permanent display of inductees in the MPA office in Columbia and in the student lounge in Lee Hills Hall at the Missouri School of Journalism.
— Wendell Redden —
Wendell Redden’s name is synonymous with sports in Joplin, having covered athletic events and surrounding activities since starting at the Globe in 1950 while still in high school. He also was known as a pioneer in sports journalism, pushing for equal treatment of women’s sports coverage in Southwest Missouri. Under his leadership, The Globe was the first newspaper in the area to treat high school and college women’s teams the same way it handled men’s coverage, including with game stories, features, analysis and statistics.
Redden was hired at the newspaper in 1951 as an assistant sports editor and assumed the sports editor’s duties in 1952. During his career, he covered many major sporting events, including the opening game of the Kansas City Athletics in 1955 after their move from Philadelphia; the 1969 national championship football game between Arkansas and Texas; and many Big Eight Conference football games in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas.
After his retirement from the Globe in 1996, Redden worked for the Sports Information Department at Missouri Southern, where he helped produce several award-winning football and basketball press guides. He also announced MSSU baseball games at Joe Becker Stadium and was tournament director for Golden Gloves. For years, he was involved with Pee Wee baseball, and he coached youth baseball. He served on the board of the Joplin Boys Club, as a volunteer for the Special Olympics and was a founding member of the Joplin Sports Authority.
Redden received many awards during his career, including the Man and Boy award from Boy’s Club of America. He was also named Optimist of the Year by the Noonday Optimist Club of Joplin, and he was a member of the Missouri and Joplin Bowling Halls of Fame, the Missouri Southern Athletic Hall of Fame, the Joplin Sports Hall of Fame and the MSSU Regional Media Hall of Fame. Redden Field in Joplin was named in his honor following his 2011 death from pancreatic cancer.
— Kent Ford —
Kent Ford is a well-known name for many in Missouri’s newspaper industry, having served as MPA’s editor for two-and-a-half decades. Ford’s start in newspapers, however, came at a much earlier age, delivering about 30 copies of the Des Moines Register by bicycle at 12 years old. More than a decade later, after serving in Vietnam and graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Ford returned to newspapers with a job as a reporter at Poplar Bluff’s Daily American Republic.
In 1981, Ford and his wife, Sharon, with a lead from former MPA Executive Director Doug Crews, purchased the Oregon Times-Observer. In 1986, Ford served as president of Northwest Missouri Press Association, a role that kept him in Crews’ mind when the editor position came open at Missouri Press in 1989. Ford would remain with the newspaper association for 25 years, retiring in 2014.
In his years of service, Ford’s job went from one of primarily-mailed correspondence to the proliferation of email as the main way business is conducted. Known for his professionalism and “keen editor’s eye,” Ford served as editor of Missouri Press News, the monthly Confidential Bulletin and other communications vital to MPA’s members, as well as helped to oversee MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest.
— Joe May —
Joe May has been an ardent supporter of Missouri newspapers since his first job selling advertising for the Columbia Daily Tribune in 1970. Seven years later, he moved to Mexico to become the advertising director at The Ledger and eventually was named publisher in 1990, having served under five different owners. Through that time, and even still today, May and wife Phyllis remain mainstays of many of Missouri Press’ annual events.
May served on the MPA Board of Directors for several years until his presidency in 2011. He is also a past director and president of the Missouri Advertising Managers’ Association. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Missouri Press Service. Prior to becoming a newspaperman, May served in Vietnam in 1969 during a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force.
Following his retirement in 2012, May has remained a dedicated newspaperman, promoting newspapers as “The Source” for information in local communities. He and Phyllis also use their time to support the Missouri Press Foundation, including serving on the steering committee for the Porter Fisher Golf Classic. In Mexico, he was past president of the local chamber of commerce and on the boards of the United Way, YMCA, Rotary Club, Progress Mexico and First Christian Church.
— Jim Robertson —
Jim Robertson became the Columbia Daily Tribune’s managing editor in 1987, a position he held until his retirement in 2017. In that time, he made indelible contributions to the community and the newspaper industry, including serving as MPA President in 2015 and as founding president of the Missouri Sunshine Coalition. He currently serves on the boards of both the Missouri Press Service and the Missouri Press Foundation.
Attending the University of Missouri on a Curators Scholarship, Robertson began his journalism education in Prof. William Taft’s “History and Principles of Journalism” class. After graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism, he started his community newspaper career in 1977 as a reporter and editor for the Chariton Courier in Keytesville and the Kingdom Daily News in Fulton. He joined the staff of the Tribune in 1981, where he started on the copy desk before soon moving to the city beat, then business editor, city editor and finally managing editor.
In addition to his service to Missouri Press, Robertson’s career highlights include two terms as president of the Missouri Associated Press Managing Editors, former president of the Missouri Society of Newspaper Editors and former president of Job Point, a job-training service. He also is a former member of the Governor’s Missouri Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and is a founding co-director of the Missouri Civil War Heritage Foundation.