The former broadcast television news director served on the school’s National Advisory Board for nearly two decades, offering invaluable insight and advice on the communications and television industries to students, faculty and staff.
Ken White, a longtime broadcast television news director and member of the School of Communications National Advisory Board for nearly two decades, died Oct. 11.
Most recently, White served as news director at WVVA-TV, an NBC-affiliated television station in Bluefield, West Virginia. During three-plus decades in the news industry, White also worked in television markets in Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and New York.
White’s participation on the school’s advisory board dates back almost as long as the existence of the school itself. A search of the school’s archives provides numerous examples of White’s interactions with students, including a seminar to guide students in landing their first job – and in a better market than they might expect.
Sunshine Overkamp, who served alongside White on the advisory board, fondly recalled White’s willingness to support and educate aspiring journalists. It’s a trait she witnessed time and again during the board’s spring and fall visits.
“Ken was always willing and ready to help a student,” Overkamp said. “He was always ready to make suggestions that were immensely valuable and could benefit the school, its programs and its students.”
According to Overkamp, White’s knowledge and perspective were invaluable to herself and other board members because he could articulate the opportunities and difficulties facing certain TV markets.
Former Communications Dean Paul Parsons called White a “phenomenal advisory board member,” who was devoted to developing the next wave of professional journalists.
“In the nearly two decades he was associated with the School of Communications, he spoke about the broadcast world in dozens of classes, built relationships with our faculty, opened doors for students through internships and jobs, and even became an Elon parent himself,” Parsons said. “Ken believed in our school becoming the best in the nation at preparing students for careers and life, and he had an immeasurable impact on the school we are today.”
A graduate of the University of South Florida, White began his career as sports director at WAKA-TV in Montgomery, Alabama, and worked as a political reporter and assignment manager at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh, assistant news director at WXII-TV in Winston-Salem, and a news director at KTBS-TV in Shreveport. White then landed at Fox Charlotte (WCCB-TV), where he developed and launched news programming at the station.
White received multiple Emmys and Associated Press awards, and he served as president of the Radio Television News Directors Association of the Carolinas from 2003-07. In 2005, the organization named him News Director of the Year.
According to a wkbn.com obituary, White also volunteered at Providence High School in Charlotte where he worked with newspaper classes and the high school’s student newspaper, the Providence Prowl.
In an email to Elon colleagues following White’s passing, Associate Professor Rich Landesberg noted the immense impact of White’s contributions throughout the years.
“He was a good friend and a great mentor to our students,” Landesberg explained.
White is survived by his wife, Jenny White; son, Mack White; and daughter, Madeline White. Mack White graduated from Elon University in 2016 with a degree in media arts and entertainment.