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John Dille, a faculty associate at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, has been named a “Giant of Broadcasting” by the Library of American Broadcasting.
Dille was among 13 broadcast professionals who were recognized at a ceremony in New York City Oct. 14 for their outstanding contributions to the field. Honorees included “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams; Christiane Amanpour, anchor of ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour”; and Brian Lamb, founder and CEO of C-SPAN.
Dille is president and CEO of Federated Media, a group of media companies that reaches nearly 2.5 million people each week in Indiana and Michigan through radio, online products, smartphone applications, advertising and marketing.
Dille, a native of Indiana, studied history and government at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, and earned an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. He got his start in journalism as a copy boy for The Washington Post, then moved to Thomson Newspapers as a reporter in England, Scotland and Wales.
After service in the U.S. Army, Dille returned to Indiana, where he went to work for his family’s company of newspaper, radio and television outlets. He became general manager of The Elkhart Truth newspaper and in 1971 was sent to “see what he could do” with two radio stations his family owned in Fort Wayne. Dille’s success with those stations led to the acquisition of other stations in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
Federated Media now holds 12 radio stations in Indiana and Michigan.
Dille has been an industry leader, serving as chair of the National Association of Broadcasters Radio Board, which awarded him its 2005 National Radio Award. He also is past chair of the Radio Advertising Bureau and past director and president of the Indiana Broadcasters Association.
Dille began teaching about the business and future of journalism at the Cronkite School in 2009. The required course, which most Cronkite students take as seniors, covers the changing media industry and introduces students to business models and concepts of entrepreneurship.
Tim McGuire, the school’s Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism, who also teaches the class, knew Dille and encouraged him to come to the school.
“He’s been an entrepreneur for 40 years. He’s lived it,” McGuire said. “John is a statesman of the industry [and] a major figure in American broadcasting.”
Dille said in his acceptance speech that teaching at the Cronkite School has helped him better understand the challenges facing media today.
“Our business is never going back to the old days,” he said. “If we could muster the confidence to release our grip on this magnificent, but unsustainable, oligopoly that has benefited us so well in old media, we just might be able to re-establish a better one along with these students in the new media world.”
Dille has also taught electronic media management at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
The Library of American Broadcasting, housed at the University of Maryland, was founded in 1967 and serves as a resource for the radio and television industries and academia. Its collection, considered the premier archive of broadcasting history and policy, holds audio and video recordings, scripts, photographs, books, oral histories and related materials.
The “Giants of Broadcasting” awards are given by the Library of American Broadcasting Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the library.