June 2 was an important day for former KET Comment on Kentucky host Al Smith and the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.
The Institute, along with the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, established a public service award through community journalism in Al’s name and honored him as the first recipient.
Al, who owned weekly newspapers in Kentucky and Tennessee, hosted Comment for over 30 years. He is a celebrated figure in state journalism and served his state, Appalachia, and the nation through a wide range of public service.
Speaking in his behalf were Jim Host; former Herald-Leader editor, David Holwerk; current Comment host Ferrell Wellman; and my colleague, KET host and producer Renee Shaw.
Renee’s remarks regarding her close association with Al were poignant and heartfelt.
Proceeds from the dinner will go to the Institute’s endowment at UK. The dinner also benefited the SPJ chapter, which funds scholarships for student journalists in the region.