KNOXVILLE – The Tennessee Association of Broadcasters’ (TAB) Distinguished Service Award, TAB’s highest honor for service to the industry and community, was presented to Dr. Sam Swan.
Dr. Swan’s background encompasses over 50 years in broadcast journalism, broadcast management, broadcast education, and international media training. Dr. Swan began his broadcasting career in 1967 as a radio news reporter and anchor at KFVS-AM in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He also performed many other duties including sales, production, and on-air music announcing. Swan later served as the anchor/host for a two-hour morning show on KFVS-TV in the late 1960s. From 1968-1970 he served as the anchor for the 10:00 p.m. newscasts on KFVS-TV.
Following completion of an undergraduate degree in communication from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Swan accepted an assignment to work in Sri Lanka for six months in 1970-71. In Sri Lanka he lived with host families in order to better understand the people and culture of the country while consulting with the Farm Broadcasting Service on the development of radio quiz programs designed to reach young farmers.
Dr. Swan served as a radio-television specialist for the University of Missouri from 1972 -1978 where he produced and hosted numerous radio and television programs broadcast on stations throughout Missouri.
He earned a master’s degree in communication from Central Missouri State University in 1974 and completed a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Missouri in 1978.
Dr. Swan was named Electronic Media Leader at the University of Minnesota in 1978. In that role, he led a faculty of five broadcasters in the production and distribution of numerous radio and TV programs that were broadcast throughout Minnesota.
In 1981, Dr. Swan became Head of the Department of Radio-Television at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. At SIU, Swan headed a faculty of 14 and student population of 600 students. He also won approval for a new master’s degree in telecommunications.
In 1985, Dr. Swan became Head of the Department of Broadcasting at the University of Tennessee. In that role Swan led a faculty of seven and a student population of 400. He was responsible for the donation of a 50,000-watt commercial AM station to the university. He designed and programmed the station as an all-news station for the Knoxville market. He also managed non-commercial WUTK-FM and integrated it into the Department of Broadcasting curriculum. On the television side, Swan conceived and produced a weekly news and public affairs program called UT Today for more than 20 years for WBIR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Knoxville. He also served as Interim Director of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee from 2005-2006.
Dr. Swan was named Director of Global Programs and Outreach for the College of Communication and Information in 2006. He has helped develop five study abroad programs for the college and has led groups of students to Prague on three occasions. He developed the semester long CCI Global Communication Scholars Program in Sydney, Australia in 2016. He has received several grants related to international journalism and broadcasting. He received a 5-year $1.6 million grant from IREX and USAID to strengthen journalism education in Jordan where he worked with two universities. He has also received two grants from the US State Department do develop exchange programs with the University of Zagreb in Croatia. In 2020, he received another grant from the US State Department to develop university partnerships with three universities in Serbia including the exchange of faculty and students with the University of Tennessee.
Dr. Swan has been a leading international media trainer since 1996. He has conducted over 150 workshops in more than 50 countries on broadcast management and broadcast journalism helping newly licensed FM and TV stations develop a free press and a sustainable business. Many of the workshops have been conducted in Central and Eastern Europe. Most of the workshops were sponsored by the Voice of America Office of International Media Training, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, IREX, US State Department, Internews, and other agencies. Thousands of broadcast managers and journalists have participated in workshops in Bulgaria, Croatia, Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina Govina, Macedonia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia. Dr. Swan has also conducted more than workshops in Africa for broadcast managers and journalists. He has traveled to Nigeria, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Tanzania, Angola, Ethiopia, and Rwanda to conduct workshops.
Dr. Swan served as the news trainer and consultant for 5 News Corp owned stations in Bulgaria, Serbia, Poland, and Latvia. Swan has also conducted more than 20 workshops for visiting groups of international broadcast managers in Washington D.C. and at the University of Tennessee including groups from Slovakia, Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Kosovo, Bosnia, Latvia, and Serbia.
Swan has received two Fulbright Specialist appointments. The first was at the University of Zagreb in Croatia where he taught television news reporting, producing, and performance. His second Fulbright was in Ethiopia where he taught at two universities: The University Hawassa and the University of Haramaya.
Dr. Swan is the author of two books on Principles of Broadcast Management for Eastern Europe, published by the International Broadcasting Bureau in Prague. He has written more than 150 articles on broadcast management and journalism distributed to affiliates of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague His teaching interests include broadcast journalism, media management, sports broadcasting, and international broadcasting. He is also the author of a chapter in the NAB Engineering Handbook on Management. He is currently completing a book on International Media Training.
Swan was recognized by the Association of Journalism and Mass Communication Education with the Ed Bliss Award as the Distinguished Broadcast Journalism Educator in the United States in 2009.
TAB’s 2016 DSA recipient and TAB President Emeritus, Whit Adamson said, “From time to time, the past DSA recipients who make the selection annually step out of the member station arena and select someone from our associates to remind us of what a valuable relationship we have with the broadcast industry as a whole. Dr. Sam Swan has proven himself more than worthy for many, many years. On this day, we recognize him and say Thank You for a lifetime of distinguished service!”
The TAB DSA was established in 1974 to honor men and women who have distinguished themselves through outstanding service to their communities and the broadcast industry.
ABOUT THE TENNESSEE ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS: Established in 1948, the TAB is the state trade association for radio and television’s local over-the-air broadcasters. The mission of the association is to provide a learning and advocacy environment to create better broadcasters, who in turn can provide a better service to the public and their communities.