MSU communication teacher-researcher receives national award

Contact: Sammy McDavid

Glenn D. "Pete" Smith
Glenn D. "Pete" Smith

STARKVILLE, Miss.--A member of the communication department faculty at Mississippi State is receiving one of the highest honors given by the American Journalism Historians' Association.

Assistant professor Glenn D. "Pete" Smith recently was notified of his selection for the 2005 Margaret A. Blanchard Doctoral Dissertation Prize. Chosen from among approximately 20 entries from colleges and universities around the country, his award recognizes excellence in the research and composition of the discourse required for a doctoral degree.

Named for the late distinguished First Amendment and journalism history scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Blanchard Prize commends the originality of the author's argument, thoroughness of primary-source research material and clarity of writing.

"It is the exceptional quality of scholarship such as yours, which clearly advances the art of journalism and mass communication theory," said Blanchard Prize Committee chair David Abrahamson in his announcement letter to Smith. The honor will be presented formally in October during the association's annual convention in San Antonio, Texas, he added.

Smith's work, "'It's Your America': Gertrude Berg and American Broadcasting, 1929-1956," is a biography of the broadcast pioneer whose radio series, "The Rise of the Goldbergs," debuted in 1929 on the National Broadcasting System. Written, produced and starring Berg, the program is considered a precursor of modern radio--and later, television--soap operas.

"The Goldbergs," a prototype of today's television situation comedies, first aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System in January 1949. In the small-screen setting, Berg continued her role as the wise matriarch of a New York Jewish family.

A year after her TV debut, however, Berg put her longtime popularity with American broadcast audiences on the line when she fought publicly to save the career of co-star Phillip Loeb, a union activist who had been blacklisted during the post-World War II McCarthy era for alleged communist activities. Her television career ended with the network demise of the show in 1956.

Smith recently signed an advanced book contract with Syracuse University Press for publication of his dissertation. In addition to tracing Berg's career in a male-dominated industry, he explores, among other aspects, the political, religious and ethnic contents of Berg's productions, as well as her significant contributions to American broadcasting.

Smith is a 1993 communication studies graduate of MSU who went on to complete his master's in 1995 from Auburn University. The doctorate for which his award-winning dissertation was written was awarded last year by the University of Southern Mississippi.

NEWS EDITORS/DIRECTORS: For additional information, contact Dr. Smith at (662) 325-0983 or

Thu, 09/08/2005 - 05:00