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2008 Hall of Fame class announced

Posted by: Kit Donahue on 2008-07-15 17:00:53

2008 Hall of Fame Inductees

John Strohm (DI newsroom, 1932-35, managing editor 1934-35)
John served as a reporter, night editor, city editor and managing editor of The Daily Illini. After leaving the University, he began a freelance career that took him to 33 countries. In 1938, he became field editor for Prairie Farmer and was promoted to assistant editor in 1941. Strohm earned the distinction of being the first American correspondent to travel to Russia, China and Saudi Arabia after World War II. His articles and photos appeared in more than 1,000 newspapers, and he received the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Distinguished Foreign Correspondence as well as a Pulitzer Prize nomination. John purchased the Woodstock Journal in 1942 and founded Northern Illinois Publications becoming a community leader as the company’s president from 1945-50. In 1962, Strohm founded National Wildlife Magazine followed by International Wildlife Magazine in 1971. He received the UIAA’s Illini Achievement Award in 1983.

Godfrey “Budge” Sperling (DI newsroom, 1933-36)
Budge was a news and sports reporter at The Daily Illini from 1933-36 before receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UIUC followed by a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. He served in the U.S. Air Force for five years during World War II and in 1946 joined the staff of the Christian Science Monitor, launching a career there that would span six decades. His work at the Monitor included serving as chief of the Chicago and the New York bureaus before he settled at the Washington bureau as news manager and senior Washington columnist. It was there that Budge created and hosted what would eventually become a Washington institution, “Breakfast with Godfrey,” holding more than 3,400 breakfast meetings with the top newsmakers and journalists in the capital. During his career, Budge covered 24 political conventions and numerous presidential campaigns. He received the UIAA’s Illini Achievement Award in 1987.

Sandra Pesmen (DI newsroom, 1948-52)
Sandra served as a reporter at The Daily Illini during her four years at the University of Illinois. She went on to a distinguished career as a features writer and business editor at the Chicago Daily News, Crain’s Chicago Business and Crain Communications. She taught journalism and communications at Northwestern University and is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame. Sandra has won numerous journalism awards and has been a role model to countless women over the years. She was a pioneer for female journalists juggling a career and a family long before society or newspapers welcomed working mothers. She has written two books and continues to write and syndicate her DR. JOB career news column.

Pete Weitzel (DI newsroom, 1954-58, EIC 1957-58)
Pete was a reporter, city editor, and managing editor at The Daily Illini before becoming the editor in chief in 1957. He has continued his career as a distinguished journalist and First Amendment advocate for more than 50 years, serving as a reporter, editor and finally managing editor of the award-winning Miami Herald. During his decade as managing editor at the Herald, the paper received numerous awards including eight Pulitzer Prizes. Pete also served as the chairman of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors Freedom of Information Committee, the founder and president of the Florida First Amendment Foundation and as a visiting professional at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. He is currently the coordinator for the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government and received the National Press Club’s “John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award” in 2007.

Warren Williamson and Joseph Nelson (joint nomination – WPGU engineers: Williamson 1963-68: Nelson 1965-69)
Warren Williamson and Joseph “Murph” Nelson were integrally involved with WPGU’s engineering department during their years at the University of Illinois and are credited as being the two men responsible for completing the extensive work required to get the station switched to FM broadcasting in April 1967. As unpaid student volunteers, and under unrelenting pressure to meet tight FCC deadlines and requirements, they planned, specified, supervised and performed the work necessary to begin FM operations. Warren was WPGU's Chief Engineer prior to the change to FM and was also the Transmitter Engineer. Murph followed Warren as Chief Engineer immediately prior to the switchover to FM. Together, the two men managed the entire transmitter installation and did the physical engineering work required for WPGU to broadcast as an FM station. Since then, both men have gone on to distinguished careers as engineers: Warren is the owner of W. L. Williamson and Associates, an engineering consulting firm involved in electronic circuit and system design as well as circuit and product development. He is the inventor, or co-inventor, of about a dozen patents including the first digitally programmable scanning radio; Murph has over 30 years of engineering experience in business development and project management for clients with a wide range of environmental, waste management and toxic cleanup needs.

Charlie Meyerson (WPGU, 1973-77)
Charlie served as a reporter, anchor and DJ at WPGU during his years at the University of Illinois. He continued his broadcast career with award-winning runs at WXRT-FM and WNUA-FM in Chicago for almost two decades before making the leap in 1998 to Internet journalism as part of the staff of the Chicago Tribune's Web site, He is currently a senior producer and Daywatch columnist for Chicago Tribune Interactive and a frequent contributor to newscasts on the Tribune's sibling, WGN-AM 720. Charlie is an active member of the Illini Media alumni club and has given tours, speeches and sessions for our students over the past several years – inspiring many, and helping us in whatever way he can.

Gene Honda (WPGU, 1975-78)
Gene started his broadcast career at WPGU as an on-air personality, sports director, assistant news director and production director. He went on to work at several radio and TV stations including K-104, WLIT-FM, WTTW-TV. Gene currently serves as the public address announcer for a number of sports teams and events, including the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Blackhawks, DePaul Men’s Basketball, NCAA Men’s College Basketball and the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon.