Brad Byrd · 2005
Born in Middletown, USA, Muncie, Indiana, Bradley Dean Byrd knew early on that he wanted to be a reporter. “Being a teenager during the incredible decade of the 1960s got me hooked,” Byrd says, “the Kennedy assassinations, Vietnam, the Civil Rights struggles – they all helped Television evolve into our window to history. I realized reporting was my ticket to be a witness to it all.”
He was 18 years old when Byrd took his first broadcasting job at WLBC in Muncie – spinning records, grabbing wire copy and doing “rip and read” newscasts during after school hours. The man who interviewed the Central High School senior for the job was Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame inductee Don Burton.
Byrd focused on reporting while earning his Bachelor of Science degree in communications at Ball State University and anchored his first television newscast at WIPB, Channel 49. He also took on a part-time job as a booth announcer at WLWI TV (now WTHR) – driving the 55 miles from Muncie to Indianapolis during his senior year at BSU.
But television news was his first love and he began part-time work as WANE TV’s weekend anchor in Fort Wayne shortly after graduating at Ball State. In 1975 he was hired full time as weekend anchor at WFIE TV Evansville and would remain there until January 1978 when he moved to WEHT TV in Evansville as the main weekday anchor. Byrd was 26 years old and among the youngest weekday television news anchors in Indiana.
Now, Byrd is an Emmy Award and Edward R. Murrow Award winning reporter and still anchors the evening news at WEHT (NewS25).
Byrd has covered stories with Evansville connections in Eastern Europe, Washington D.C., New York City, and other U.S. locations. Among his most challenging assignments was his trip to Poland to produce and anchor a documentary and series of reports on two Evansville Peace Corps workers stationed in Krakow. He also anchored on location coverage of the 1989 and 1993 Presidential Inaugurations from Washington.
Among his honors:
• Emmy Winner 1998: for his reporting on a prime-time special on the devastation of the 1990 Petersburg, Indiana tornado.
• Emmy Winner 1999: for his special report on a Tri-State teen who died in an after-school fight.
• Edward R. Murrow Winner 2003: for his report on the world’s oldest heart transplant recipient.
• Edward R. Murrow Winner 2004: for his report on the impact a mob hit had on Evansville. The story also received a 2003 Emmy Nomination.
Byrd also received Emmy nominations for his reports on capital punishment and organized crime. He also earned local, state and regional awards for his work including Associated Press honors for his special reports on death row conditions in the Indiana and Kentucky prison systems.
“I can’t think of a single instance in 18 months that I’ve worked with him that I didn’t agree with something he did,” WEHT News Director Bill Gladish says. “I have been a competitor, a viewer and now his boss, and my respect for him has not changed one iota.
In 2002 Byrd was named president of the Evansville American Heart Association Board. Along with this wife T.J., Brad organized a major annual fundraiser for the AHA called “Cruising for Hearts”, a night of nostalgia at a Tri-State drive-in theatre featuring classic cars and entertainment.
He has been the senior host for the Evansville Easter Seals Telethon since 1981 and the Santa Clothes Club Telethon since 1978. He has also been active in other community events sponsored by the American Cancer Society and the United Way’s Volunteer Action Center. He has acted as master of ceremonies at several major events and hosted town hall forums and public service programs for the Evansville PBS television affiliate WNIN.
The Evansville Courier & Press began publishing Byrd’s column “Second Thoughts” in March of 2003.
Byrd took his broadcast experience to the collegiate classroom: teaching media courses at the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana during the 1990s.
His work for Easter Seals was recognized nationally. He was one of 16 broadcasters names “Consistent Best Hosts” by the National Easter Seals Society in 1996 for his role on the Easter Seals Telethon. He was also a recipient of the Optimists International “Citizen of the Year” award for 1994.