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BICENTENNIAL: Four who made a difference: Media

December 12, 2015
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Ardath Burkhart

1905-1983

DePauw University graduate Ardath Burkhart moved to Indianapolis with her husband, John, a few years before World War II. While her husband established College Life Insurance Co., Ardath Burkhart came into her own as one of the city’s most effective philanthropic fundraisers. One topic near and dear to her heart was public television, and in 1970, she created “Ardath’s Army,” more than 7,000 women she helped organize to raise money for the establishment of WFYI-TV. The new public television station went on the air in October 1970 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art with a staff of nine, three donated black-and-white cameras, and a budget of $200,000 for its first year of operations. Burkhart was recognized for her efforts with a seat on the board of the national Public Broadcasting Service and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, both in Washington, D.C.•

 

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John H. Holliday

1846-1921

Indianapolis native John H. Holliday founded the Indianapolis News in 1869 at the tender age of 23. A Hanover College graduate, he served in the late stages of the Civil War and came home to Indianapolis to start his journalism career. He retired from active management of the News in 1892 but came out of retirement the next year to help organize the city’s Union Trust Co., which later merged with Indiana National Bank. He and his wife donated their 80-acre estate on White River to the city in 1916, which opened as Holliday Park in 1929.•

 

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Eugene C. Pulliam

1889-1975

Kansas native Eugene C. Pulliam bought his first newspaper, the Champion, in Atchison, Kansas, in 1912. Pulliam, who studied at DePauw University and worked as a reporter at the Kansas City Star, bought newspapers, including the Lebanon Reporter, the Franklin Evening Star and the Muncie Star throughout the 1920s and 1930s. In 1934, he established Central Newspapers Inc. as a holding company to consolidate his far-flung newspapers. He purchased The Indianapolis Star in 1944 and The Indianapolis News four years later. By the time of his death in 1975, Central Newspapers was a $1 billion operation with 46 newspapers in Indiana, Arizona and seven other states.•

 

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Jeff Smulyan

1947-

When he was a young man growing up in Indianapolis, Jeff Smulyan got his introduction to mass media working in the mail room of The Indianapolis Times. Smulyan went on to get his undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California and remained on campus to earn his law degree. In 1980, Smulyan founded and became principal shareholder in Emmis Broadcasting, which was later renamed Emmis Communications and has grown to operate 19 FM and four AM radio stations in the nation’s largest markets, as well as city and regional magazines including Indianapolis Monthly, Texas Monthly and Los Angeles. For three years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Smulyan owned the Seattle Mariners Major League Baseball team.•

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