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Professor John Craft of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is the winner of the first Jack Clifford Broadcast Educator of the Year Award, given by the Arizona Broadcasters Association.
Craft, the senior member of the Cronkite faculty at Arizona State University, will be honored Oct. 16 at the Arizona Broadcasters Association 19th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner at the Buttes Marriott Resort in Tempe.
The association decided this year to name an award in honor of Clifford, a longtime member and a television industry leader for more than 50 years. Recipients are veteran educators of radio and television broadcast students at community colleges or universities.
“The Arizona Broadcasters Association Foundation started the award in honor of Mr. Clifford’s passion for the education future broadcasters receive,” said Art Brooks, president and chief executive officer for the association. “It made sense to do the award and name it for Jack.”
Clifford said he is pleased that the first award in his name will go to Craft.
“John Craft is a prime example of the kind of individual that I think every professional educator should be,” Clifford said.
Brooks said Craft was chosen for the award because of his many years of service to journalism education. “When you teach that long, you affect the lives of your students to the point where they are going to be passionate about the industry,” Brooks said. “That’s John’s legacy.”
Craft began teaching journalism at ASU in 1973, the year the journalism school moved to Stauffer Hall on the Tempe campus. This summer, he moved into his second new journalism building when the Cronkite School moved to downtown Phoenix.
Craft said he has taught “just about everything in the broadcast area,” including TV production, TV directing, broadcast programming, cable TV, broadcast management, mass media and society, announcing and sales. He also was the director of graduate studies at the Cronkite School for more than a dozen years.
Chuck Emmert, manager for the city of Phoenix station KNOW99, took classes from Craft during the 1970s.
“He looked at your work in a manner that wasn’t derogatory, and he would not talk down to you. That was always appreciated,” Emmert said. “He was obviously someone who had been in the field and put in the time. We respected him.”
Craft became interested in broadcasting in 1962 while a student at Ohio University. He was majoring in technical theater but signed on to help at the new campus television station.
“Like a lot of students, I was cheap labor. I operated a camera and was a technical director,” Craft said.
He went on to get a master’s degree in radio and television and a doctorate of philosophy in mass communication at Ohio University. He taught media courses at both Ohio University and West Liberty State College in West Virginia. And he produced, directed or otherwise contributed to numerous television programs at public television station WOUB-TV in Ohio and later as an independent documentary producer and director.
“I did documentaries on Route 66 and a few on different artists,” Craft said. “I think the Route 66 piece was on 70 markets around the country on PBS stations. It also ran on the History Channel.”
Craft has been a media consultant to some of the country’s largest corporations and numerous public school districts. He also is the lead author of a major textbook on American electronic media and a primary contributor to a second textbook on corporate video.
As a trustee for the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, Craft traveled around the country and around the world. He said he would often run into former students.
“It’s amazing how many students have gone out and found high-level jobs. When your students succeed, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
Jennifer Pool, director of public relations at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, is one of those former students. She said Craft was a mentor to her while she was in school and he has remained a mentor throughout her professional career.
She said that as a teacher, Craft drew upon his own experiences rather than teaching from a text. He was always up to date on technological changes, and he took a personal interest in his students.
“He takes the time to know them individually and to find out what they are passionate about and what they hope to establish in their careers,” she said.
Craft is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. As an Arizona Humanities Scholar, he frequently shares his expertise with civic, educational and professional organizations.
“It’s nice to be rewarded by people in your business,” Craft said. “I was very fortunate.”
The Arizona Broadcasters Association is the trade association for Arizona radio and television stations. The organization’s approximately 200 members promote programs and practices that represent the interests of the public and the radio and television industry.
Clifford served as president and general manager of KTAR-TV in Phoenix and went on to found the Food Network and Northwest Cable News. A prominent feature of the Cronkite School’s new building in downtown Phoenix is the Marguerite and Jack Clifford Gallery, where journalism artifacts and items from Walter Cronkite’s long career are on display.