The Media Hall of Fame returns to CMU
CMU Media Hall of Fame to induct six graduates of journalism, broadcasting and cinema arts programs
Central Michigan University’s new Media Hall of Fame is inducting five graduates and one former faculty member who have left a lasting mark on their professions in the decades since they were students of the journalism and broadcasting programs.
CMU’s College of the Arts and Media has broadened its longtime Journalism Hall of Fame to include graduates of the Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts, Integrated Public Relations and Communications programs.
The new Media Hall of Fame will honor five graduates and one former professor for their decades of work in newspapers, television, public relations and higher education.
An inaugural induction ceremony and banquet will be held on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Bovee University Center on campus.
Tickets are on sale through Oct. 20, 2023.
Kristina (Betrus) Hajjar, 1980, Journalism: Kristina has served Los Angeles County for 31 years as director of communications for two major departments, including its world-renowned Fire Department of “Emergency” and “Baywatch” television fame, and also its Public Social Services Department, the nation’s largest, serving 10 million residents. She is credited by her peers and superiors as leading the county’s public messaging in numerous times of crisis. As communications director of the Public Social Services Department, Hajjar also is editor of the department’s digital newsletter. Her award-winning communications work has been cited by multiple trade organizations. Prior to joining Los Angeles County, Hajjar worked for 10 years as a Los Angeles area publicist in the entertainment and healthcare industries, and worked with many celebrities. She recently opened her own consulting firm, Hajjar Communications, from her home base in Los Angeles.
“After working with Kristina for only a short time, I realized that she possessed more talents that our department had originally envisioned as her scope of work. Her writing ability and practical knowledge of public relations enabled her to assist me with the preparation of talking points, special reports, high-profile events, responses to citizen complaints, media statements, media releases, and more,” said P. Michael Freeman, a retired fire chief of Los Angeles County.
Brett Holey, 1982, Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts: After graduating from CMU, Brett went to work for ABCSports covering the Indy 500. He was with ABC for 13 years and helped create "This Week with David Brinkley" and "World News Now." In 1997, Holey joined NBC as director of NBC Nightly News. In his years on the broadcast, it was the most watched newscast in America for all but a handful of weeks. He has managed several revamps of the broadcast including moving to high definition, online and other digital platforms. He directs the majority of the network's breaking news coverage as well as NBC’s presidential election year coverage. Over the course of his career, Holey has collected thirteen Emmys; numerous Edward R. Murrow and Columbia duPont awards and a number of other accolades including several for graphic and scenic design. He received CMU's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001 and was commencement speaker in 2010.
Dave LewAllen, 1979, Journalism: LewAllen retired in April after 35 years at WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) in Detroit, where he had been the longest-tenured TV news personality in the market. He previously covered sports for WJBK-TV (Channel 2), CKLW radio (800 AM) in Windsor, Ontario and WJR (760 AM) in Detroit. At WXYZ, LewAllen started as a sports reporter and then became a weekend sports anchor and host of the top-rated "Sports Update" show for 14 years. LewAllen covered Super Bowls; the World Series; multiple Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup championships; Detroit Pistons championships; Formula One Grand Prix racing; and U.S. Open and Ryder Cup golf championships. In the mid-1990s, LewAllen created and hosted “Golf Michigan,” a show highlighting the golf industry in Michigan that had a four-year run. In 2004, LewAllen moved over to the news desk and anchored weekend and nightly newscasts, as well as hosting numerous special broadcasts for the Woodward Dream Cruise, Light Up the Season and the Rochester Hometown Christmas Parade. LewAllen is the winner of four Emmys, including for coverage of a Detroit firestorm in 2010 and the 2021 mass shooting at Oxford High School, and was named a Silver Circle recipient by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Michigan chapter for his service in the broadcast industry. LewAllen has served as president of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association and Rainbow Connection, which provides wishes for Michigan children with life-threatening illnesses. LewAllen recently launched The Dave LewAllen Podcast, interviewing sports stories, interviewing newsmakers and difference-makers.
“Throughout his 42 years in journalism, Detroiters came to admire Dave LewAllen both for who he is and who he isn’t. At a time when personalities like Charlie LeDuff achieve recognition for noise instead of news, Dave’s career is a testament to the value of objective, no-frills reporting that places a premium on truth, and truth alone. When the partisan press echo chamber encouraged viewers and readers to retreat further into their corners, Dave was a calm, comforting and assured voice who helped us to understand one another and the world in which we live,” said Ross Jones, investigative reporter at WXYZ-TV.
Dr. Joe Misiewicz, was a member of the Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts faculty from 1976 to 1985. Joe was a sergeant in the Army reserves being called into stateside active duty four times with his platoon. He was trained as a photographer and journalist at a Defense Information School in Indianapolis. One key military assignment was covering the Watergate trial for three weeks for the National Armed Services Radio Network. He also recorded music programs to ship to Vietnam as a DJ for two years with “Good Morning Vietnam.” Joe’s career has included being a radio host, a newspaper publisher, the general manager of a public television station and decades teaching broadcasting at CMU, Bradley University, Morehead State University, the University of Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Ball State University, where he was a professor and chair of the Department of Telecommunication from 1990 until his retirement in 2012. After retiring from Ball State, Misiewicz spent three years as president and CEO for the Indiana Broadcasters Association, lobbying on press rights and media access issues for the state’s broadcast television stations. He is a graduate of EMU, where he was editor of the student newspaper, the Eastern Echo, and news director of WEMU-FM and a DJ for a classical music program. He’s also in the hall of fames for the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations and the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters.
“Dr. Joe was the most important professor I had during my undergraduate days at CMU and the lives he touched and shaped during his years in Mt. Pleasant are simply too numerous to tally. He was much more than a teacher – he was very hands-on and developed a broadcast department that is still going today and is second to none,” said Fred Heumann, sports director of WILX-TV in Lansing and a 2019 CMU Media Hall of Fame inductee.
Steve Morse (posthumous), 1976, Journalism: Steve was a newsroom leader in multiple newspapers in Michigan, Florida and Kentucky throughout a career that spanned more than 40 years. Steve spent the first 18 years of his career at the Battle Creek Enquirer, where he started as a sports writer before being promoted to sports editor. He went on to become the Enquirer’s news editor, metro editor and special sections/project editor. From there, Morse joined the Booth Newspapers organization, serving as an assistant metro editor of the Ann Arbor News for two years and then metro editor at the Jackson Citizen Patriot for more than six years, leading an award-winning staff of ten reporters and two assistant editors. In 2005, Morse relocated to Florida, joining the Tampa Bay Times, where he served as chief copy editor and as bureau editor in Clearwater, overseeing a team of six reporters. Morse later had other roles as a copy editor and page designer at The Lakeland Ledger and the Tampa Bay Tribune before moving to Louisville, Kentucky to be a page editor for multiple Gannett newspapers until his death in 2020. At CMU, Morse was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and a student leader at Central Michigan Life, serving as the student newspaper’s managing editor during his junior year and editor-in-chief during his senior year.
“Steve was a versatile and talented journalist. Sports reporting was his first love, but he adapted to the needs of the business, working on the news side, writing, editing, designing pages. He could do it all and do it all well,” said Rick Fitzgerald, ‘75, a classmate and fraternity brother of Morse’s at CMU.
Leanne (Gilbert) Smith, 1983, Journalism: Leanne has spent three decades in community journalism, working for many years as a sports and education reporter in Jackson, Washtenaw and Livingston counties who earned her credibility with readers one story at a time. Leanne started at the Jackson Citizen Patriot as a high school sports writer. She left journalism for five years to work in public relations as a media content analyst at FleishmanHillard. She returned to the Jackson Citizen Patriot in 2000 as a general assignment reporter. In 2003, Leanne transferred to the Citizen Patriot’s sister publication, The Ann Arbor News, where she wrote for the newspaper’s Livingston County publication. She returned to the Citizen Patriot in 2009 as an education reporter and later became the newspaper’s lead reporter under the Mlive.com banner. In 2018, Leanne was promoted to an editor position within MLive, leading teams of reporters at the Jackson Citizen Patriot and Ann Arbor News. Earlier this year, Leanne was promoted to MLive’s senior editor for east Michigan news, overseeing editors and reporters and news production in Jackson, Ann Arbor, Flint, Saginaw and Bay City. Leanne has served on the CMU Student Media Board that oversees Central Michigan Life and has also been a long-time volunteer judge in the annual MLive/Jackson Citizen Patriot Spelling Bee.
“Leanne is one of the best editors I’ve ever worked with. She is passionate, tough, fair and a great coach to reporters. She is creative, smart, innovative and willing to experiment, which is critical to the survival of local journalism,” said Sara Scott, director of Local News & Investigations for MLive Media Group.