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2021 BEA Distinguished Education Service Award (DESA) Presented to Dean Wirth

Washington, D.C. – Dr. Michael O. Wirth, Professor and Dean of the College of Communication & Information at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been named the 2021 Broadcast Education Association’s Distinguished Education Service Award (DESA) winner.

An internationally known expert in the field of cable telecommunication and broadcast economics, law and management, Dr. Wirth has conducted research under grants from a number of organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the National Association of Broadcasters. He was the first Guest Professor from the United States to the School of Journalism and Communication at Renmin University in Beijing, China (1997), and served as the first Visiting Professor from the U.S. to Zhejiang University’s School of Journalism & Communication, in Hangzhou, China (2001). Dr. Wirth was one of only two academics, worldwide, invited to deliver a keynote speech to China Central Television’s International Forum on Chinese TV and Media Development (2003). He also served as a member of the Experts Advisory Board of the Communications Economics Research Program at Curtin University of Technology’s School of Economics and Finance in Perth, Western Australia (1997-2000), where he served as a Visiting Professor during Summer 1999. He served as a member of the National Television Academy’s Education Committee (2003-2007) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (2018-2021). The International Radio and Television Society Foundation honored him as its 2000 Frank Stanton Fellow. 

Dr. Wirth has extensive training and experience in statistical and research analysis. He specializes in the development of econometric models characterizing various aspects of media economics, marketing and policy. He has co-authored one book, Costs, Benefits, and Long-Term Sustainability of Municipal Cable Television Overbuilds and he is co-editor of the Handbook of Media Management and Economics, which received the 2006 Robert Picard Award for the most significant contribution to the field of media management and economics. He has published numerous scholarly articles and essays which have appeared in such periodicals as Journal of Regulatory Economics, Journal of Economics and Business, Telecommunications Policy, Quarterly Review of Economics and Business, Information Economics and Policy, the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, the Journal of Media Economics, The International Journal on Media Management, and in scholarly books. 

Before moving to Tennessee, he served as Director of the School of Communication (1994-2006) and Professor and Chair of the Department of Mass Communications & Journalism Studies (1985-2006) at the University of Denver and as a Senior Fellow of The Magness Institute for cable telecommunications (2000-2006) – a partnership between The Cable Center and the University of Denver. 

Dr. Wirth is an area editor of the Journal of Media Economics (for which he was Guest Editor of a special issue on the economics of the multichannel video program distribution industry). He is also a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media and The International Journal on Media Management (for which he was Guest Editor of a special issue on the future of convergence).


Over the years he has provided consulting services to such organizations as Capital Cities/ABC; American Television and Communications Corporation/Time Warner Cable; Knight-Ridder Broadcasting, Inc.; Tele-Communications, Inc./AT&T Broadband; DirecTV; Viacom Cable Inc.; the National Cable & Telecommunications Association; the National Association of Broadcasters; the National Basketball Association; and Women In Cable and Telecommunications.

Dr. Wirth has been associated with BEA for more than 40 years. He served as BEA’s convention program chair (1986) and as chair of the Management and Sales interest division (1989-1991). He has also served on numerous Board and presidentially-appointed committees and frequently participated in the national convention as a presenter, panelist, paper competition referee, and discussant. 

The DESA is awarded to an individual who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the American system of electronic media education.  The award will be presented to Professor Wirth at BEA’s 2021 annual convention ceremony on Thursday April 15, 2021.  For a list of previous recipients and information on the DESA visit BEA’s website.  

About the BEA Convention – BEA’s annual convention is held in conjunction with NAB Show in Las Vegas every spring. BEA’s annual convention attracts 1,300 educators and students with 250 sessions, events, research panels, technology workshops and an exhibit hall, making BEA the largest conference partner of NAB Show. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 BEA Convention will be held virtually.

About the Broadcast Education Association (BEA) – BEA is the professional association for professors, industry professionals and graduate students interested in teaching and research related to electronic media and multimedia enterprises. There are currently more than 2,500 individual and institutional members worldwide. Visit for more information.