Aug 23, 2011

C-SPAN founder, chairman and CEO Brian Lamb to receive Al Neuharth Award at USD on Oct. 6

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Journalist and media innovator Brian P. Lamb, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of C-SPAN, will be honored as recipient of the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media, Thursday evening, Oct. 6, at The University of South Dakota.

Lamb is the 25th individual selected by the university and the Freedom Forum since the Al Neuharth Award program began in 1989. The award, recognizing lifetime achievement, is named for USA TODAY and Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth, a South Dakota native and 1950 USD journalism graduate, who will be on campus to make the presentation.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m., Oct. 6, in the recently renovated Robert L. Slagle Hall Auditorium on the USD campus, 414 East Clark St., Vermillion. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. No tickets are required for general seating, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Free tickets for preferred seating may be requested until Oct. 3 by calling 605/677-6060 or sending an e-mail to Specify ticket quantity (up to six), name and address.

The 90-minute program will be telecast live on South Dakota Public Broadcasting.

“For three decades, Brian Lamb and his colleagues have pulled back the curtain on our democratic system, resulting in a more informed electorate and making the USA a better nation,” Neuharth said. “The C-SPAN networks, created under Brian Lamb’s leadership, allow millions of interested citizens to be watchdogs of Washington through the fair, unfiltered and comprehensive coverage of government and the political process.”

More than 30 years after C-SPAN’s inaugural broadcast in 1979, the network today includes three 24-hour cable television networks, a radio station, and 15 other websites and a social media presence that includes Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and YouTube. C-SPAN provides coverage of the day’s most important news events online and to cable and satellite customers and radio listeners across the nation, helping ensure a more engaged and informed citizenry.

Lamb’s interest in broadcasting began at an early age. Working at various Indiana radio and television stations during his high school and college years, he became something of an industry renaissance man, serving as a disc jockey, media buyer and eventually host of the popular local television program “Dance Date.”

Following his graduation from Purdue University, Lamb signed up for a tour of duty with the Navy. His enlistment included a White House assignment in President Lyndon Johnson’s administration and the Pentagon public affairs office during the Vietnam War.

After briefly returning to Indiana in 1967, he moved back to Washington, D.C., where he worked as a freelance radio reporter for United Press International, a U.S. Senate press secretary and a White House telecommunications policy staffer.

Less than 10 years later, Lamb secured a job as the Washington bureau chief for Cablevision magazine and began publishing his own biweekly newsletter called The Media Report. During that time, inspired by his work in the fields of broadcasting and journalism, he started to craft his vision of a public affairs network delivered nationally via satellite.

By 1977, Lamb had begun to make that vision a reality. His concept for a news channel that would offer viewers gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. Congress was well-received by cable industry executives. With their support, Lamb established the newly named Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network — C-SPAN — as a not-for-profit company and built one of D.C.’s first satellite uplinks.

On March 19, 1979, C-SPAN was made available to 3.5 million households around the nation. Broadcasting the first televised session of the U.S. House of Representatives, the network ushered in a new era of journalism and a new understanding of objectivity.

C-SPAN had a staff of four at the time of the inaugural 1979 broadcast. Today, C-SPAN has a staff of 275, and its round-the-clock programming is available to 86 million TV households via nearly 7,900 cable systems.

C-SPAN2 — broadcasting U.S. Senate proceedings and the popular Book TV, featuring 48 hours each week of nonfiction book programming — was launched in 1986, and C-SPAN3, featuring public affairs events from Washington and around the country, made its debut in 1997. Overnights and weekends, C-SPAN3 spotlights American history with features from award-winning history series. C-SPAN Radio can be heard nationwide on XM Satellite Radio, and worldwide at

Lamb also was C-SPAN’s first on-camera interviewer, hosting the network’s first viewer call-in program in October 1980. Over the years, he has interviewed Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush, as well as many world leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. For 15 years, beginning in 1989, he interviewed 800 nonfiction authors for the weekly program “Booknotes.” Four books of collected interviews have been published based on this series. Currently, Lamb hosts “Q and A,” an hour-long interview program on Sunday evenings with experts in politics, media, education or technology.

Lamb and his wife, Victoria, are longtime residents of Arlington, Va., and will be together on their visit to Vermillion and the USD campus.

A photograph of Brian Lamb is available for download at

Past Al Neuharth Award recipients include Walter Cronkite (1989), Carl T. Rowan (1990), Helen Thomas (1991), Tom Brokaw (1992), Larry King (1993), Charles Kuralt (1994), Albert R. Hunt and Judy Woodruff (1995), Robert MacNeil (1996), Cokie Roberts (1997), Tim Russert and Louis D. Boccardi (1998), John Seigenthaler (1999),  Jim Lehrer (2001), Tom Curley (2002), Don Hewitt  (2004), Garrison Keillor (2005), Bob Schieffer (2006), John Quinn and Ken Paulson (2007), Charles Overby (2008), Katie Couric (2009) and Cathie Black and Frank Vega (2010).

About the Al Neuharth Media Center

The Freedom Forum’s Al Neuharth Media Center on The University of South Dakota campus was dedicated in 2003. It is home to offices of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, to South Dakota Public Broadcasting, the USD Department of Contemporary Media and Journalism, and all USD student media, including The Volante. Freedom Forum Diversity Institute programs based at the Al Neuharth Media Center include the American Indian Journalism Institute. The Diversity Institute, established and funded by the Freedom Forum, is a school dedicated to teaching journalism skills and First Amendment values by advancing news media diversity, fairness and excellence through a variety of training and scholarship-based programs. More information is available at or by contacting Jack Marsh, president and chief operating officer,

About The Freedom Forum
The Freedom Forum, based in Washington, D.C., is a nonpartisan foundation dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people. The foundation focuses on three priorities: newsroom diversity, the Newseum and the First Amendment. The Freedom Forum is the main funder of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, the Newseum and the First Amendment Center. The Diversity Institute operates at three locations: the Al Neuharth Media Center at The University of South Dakota in Vermillion; the John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville; and the Newseum, an interactive museum of news in Washington, D.C. Al Neuharth, a 1950 journalism graduate of USD, is founder of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and USA TODAY. Jack Marsh is executive director of the Al Neuharth Media Center and president of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute.
About The University of South Dakota
Founded in 1862, The University of South Dakota is designated as the only public liberal arts university in the state and is home to a comprehensive College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, the state's only School of Law, School of Medicine, the accredited Beacom School of Business and the College of Fine Arts. USD has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students taught by more than 400 faculty members. More information is available at

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Peter Carrels
The University of South Dakota
(605) 216-1233
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