News director, WOOD AM-FM-TV, Grand Rapids
Richard Earl Cheverton (1915-1974) was born in Muscatine, Iowa, and received an English and journalism degree from Monmouth College in Illinois. During his 35-year career in journalism, he brought passion and leadership to the radio and television industry and believed that broadcast journalism was an influential tool for motivating people to take action within their own communities. “Chev,” as he was called, began his journalism career in 1939 as a newspaper reporter in New York City. In 1942 he was selected as the first editor of Parade magazine. After serving for three-and-a-half years in the U.S. Navy during WWII, he returned to Iowa as a reporter for WKPC radio in Muscatine. In 1950 he became the news director at WMT AM-FM-TV in Cedar Rapids. In 1956 he was hired as news director for WOOD AM-FM-TV in Grand Rapids, where he built and developed an award-winning news department. Three years later WOOD AM-FM-TV became the second television station in the United States to air editorials. Within two years the station received the Peabody Award for Public Service in Journalism and the RTNDA Award for editorials. In 1968, the station won the SDX Distinguished Service Award for TV Editorializing. In 1972 Cheverton won the Columbia-DuPont Award for “Our Poisoned World,” a documentary series about the environment. He was honored again in 1974 with AP’s First Amendment Award for his commitment to the public’s right to know and the journalist’s right to publish. The award was later renamed the Richard E. Cheverton Award. His dedication and professional integrity have advanced the practice of journalism in Michigan and beyond.