National Radio Hall of Fame
The National Radio Hall of Fame (NRHOF) is a United States organization that was created by the Emerson Radio Corporation in 1988. Three years later Bruce DuMont, founder, president, and CEO of the Museum of Broadcast Communications, assumed control of the Hall, moved its base of operations to Chicago, and incorporated it into the MBC. It has been described as being dedicated to recognizing those who have contributed to the development of the radio medium throughout its history in the United States. The NRHOF gallery was located on the second floor of the MBC, at 360 N. State St., from December 2011 until October 2017, when the traveling exhibit "Saturday Night Live: The Experience" was installed on the second and fourth floors. In September 2018 the MBC's board of directors was reportedly close to finalizing a deal to sell the museum's third and fourth floors to Fern Hill, a real estate development and investment firm, according to Chicago media blogger Robert Feder, which would leave the MBC with just the second floor in terms of exhibit space. (After "Saturday Night Live: The Experience" closed on March 31, 2019, the NRHOF gallery was partially restored on the second floor.)
Inductees to the National Radio Hall of Fame are nominated by a 24-person Nominating Committee composed of industry programming leaders and executives, industry observers and members of academia. The Nominating Committee is inclusive of commercial and public radio. Nominating Committee members serve two or three year terms on a volunteer basis. The committee receives suggestions from the industry and listening public before convening and presenting a slate of 24 nominees, 16 of which are voted upon by an industry-wide Voting Participant panel while eight others are voted on by the public. The Nominating Committee subsequently chooses up to four additional individuals for induction, choosing from suggested air personalities, programmers, management or ownership.
The Nominating Committee recommends nominations in the following categories:
- Longstanding Local/Regional (20 years or more);
- Active Local/Regional (10 years or more);
- Longstanding Network/Syndication (20 years or more);
- Active Network/Syndication (10 years or more);
- Music Format On-Air Personality;
- Spoken Word On-Air Personality
"Since 2011 the public has been shut out of the Radio Hall of Fame voting process despite requirements that the steering committee consider recommendations from the public, announce multiple nominees in four categories, and conduct public voting online. Instead, the steering committee announced each year's inductees as a fait accompli," wrote Robert Feder in June 2015 as NRHOF chairman Kraig Kitchin announced the return of public voting. In 2011 the NRHOF made headlines by inducting former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, "whose radio career spanned only five years as a sportscaster in Iowa in the 1930s," Feder reported. (An August 2016 article posted on the website Chicagoland Radio and Media that centered on further controversies surrounding Bruce DuMont's personal life and his presidency of the Museum of Broadcast Communications stated that he "finally succumbed to pressure" when he stepped down as the NRHOF's chairman in 2014.)
Howard Stern, one of the most highly rated and visible figures in radio since the 1980s, has been vocally critical of the NRHOF. He has regularly made it a focus of his jokes, lampooning the fact that the entire nomination and selection process appeared to be controlled by Bruce DuMont, the sole authority appointing the panel for the selection process. Stern has stated he would reject any offer to join the NRHOF, and further said, "There is no Radio Hall of Fame. It's just a guy in his basement giving out awards. His name is Bruce DuMont, and he has nothing to do with radio other than the fact that his family made radios years ago." On June 28, 2012, Robert Feder reported that the "most conspicuous and embarrassing omission to the Radio Hall of Fame finally will be corrected this fall when Howard Stern" is inducted.
There are 247 inductees to the National Radio Hall of Fame with the addition of eight from the Class of 2019. A complete list can be found at the Radio Hall of Fame website.
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