Five trailblazers to be inducted into NC Media and Journalism Hall of Fame in 2018


The NC Media and Journalism Hall of Fame will induct Don Curtis, Lisa R. Davis, Rick French, Ken Lowe and John Sweeney on Friday, April 13, 2018.

Founded and administered by the UNC School of Media and Journalism, the Hall of Fame honors professionals with ties to North Carolina who demonstrate leadership in their spheres of influence; service to the professions and society; and performance that meets the highest professional standards.

Honorees will be recognized during a gala benefit at 6:30 p.m. at The William and Ida Friday Center in Chapel Hill. The benefit, which includes a reception, dinner and program, supports the UNC School of Media and Journalism in its critical role in developing future industry and academic leaders.

Honorees are selected by a committee of professionals and faculty that considers all nominations. Since its founding in 1981, the NC Media and Journalism Hall of Fame has recognized 190 professionals in advertising, public relations, journalism and related fields.

Opportunities are now available to recognize the honorees and support the UNC School of Media and Journalism as a gala sponsor, program advertiser or table host. Individual tickets will be available March 1, 2018. For more information, please contact Sarah Rierson at or (919) 962-1204.

About the 2018 honorees:

Donald W. Curtis, chairman and CEO of Curtis Media Group, bought an hour of radio air time from WKMT in Kings Mountain, N.C., when he was just 15 years old. Today he owns Curtis Media, the largest network of radio stations in North Carolina, reaching 3 million listeners daily. His business acumen and pioneering leadership have transformed the radio industry by meeting the needs of listeners throughout the state and region. Curtis is also recognized for his steadfast commitment to journalism as a director of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters; and to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he has served on numerous boards and committees for the School of Media and Journalism, UNC-TV and the University at large, including eight years as a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees.

Lisa R. Davis, corporate vice president of communications for Northrop Grumman Corporation, leads worldwide communications strategy and execution for the global security company. Managing communications for organizations including AARP, Astra-Zeneca and MedImmune, she has built a stellar track record as a communications strategist and trusted adviser to corporate and institutional leaders at the highest national and global levels. A UNC-Greensboro and Howard University graduate and fellow of the Harvard University Institute of Politics, she is a role model for aspiring communications professionals, and a sought-after speaker on topics of leadership, strategy and public relations.

Rick French, chairman and CEO of French/West/Vaughan, founded Richard French & Associates in Raleigh in 1997, which merged with West & Vaughan four years later. Today, French/West/Vaughan has offices in Raleigh, New York, Tampa and Los Angeles and is a partner in IPREX, a global agency network. French has twice been named Agency Leader of the Year. Under his leadership, French/West/Vaughan has been widely recognized within the industry, being named national Agency of the Year 12 times and winning more than 800 public relations, digital marketing and advertising awards for its blue-chip clients. French is also currently producing or developing three motion pictures.

Kenneth W. Lowe, chairman, president and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., has transformed the lifestyle-media landscape, developing uniquely entertaining brands for television and the internet on a global scale. He founded and launched HGTV; transformed The Food Network; launched the DIY Network and the Cooking Channel; and acquired the Travel Channel and Great American Country network. A North Carolina native, Lowe has served on the UNC Board of Visitors and recently established the Ken Lowe Challenge for Faculty Excellence in Communication Studies at UNC.

John Sweeney directs advertising and public relations as well as the certificate program in sports communication at the UNC School of Media and Journalism. For over 35 years — in roles ranging from visiting professor to program director and distinguished professor — Sweeney’s award-winning teaching has garnered accolades, including recurring “senior class favorite” and teaching awards. Both an endowed scholarship and an interview fund are named in this beloved professor’s honor. His work with over 30 national brands both at advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) and in other professional capacities has enriched the experience and broadened the network of countless students over the years.

The UNC School of Media and Journalism ( prepares graduates to ignite the public conversation. It considers communicators to be on the front lines of the effort to keep democracy strong and instills in students the responsibility to be ethical, evidence-based and audience-focused. Its students, faculty, staff and alumni are redefining what it means to be strategic communicators, journalists, media professionals and scholars in a rapidly changing world. Among its strengths are areas of distinction in health communications, media law and policy, digital media economics and public life.