Grant L. Price was a journalist through and through — we know that much. But who was he off air? What does his life look like when the camera was down and the lights were off? Who did he love and what made him tick?
Honestly, we struggled a little here. We could create a 30-minute documentary just about Price’s time at Wartburg, so it was difficult for us to identify exactly what we wanted to highlight. We didn’t have a solid or narrow audience or story we wanted to tell, so there was a lot for us to discern. We decided that our intended audience is all United States citizens, particularly First Amendment supporters, journalists and news connoisseurs. The man has a story that people need to hear and helped shape the way we consume news today.
Price was born in Saskatchewan, Canada but grew up near Sioux City, South Dakota. He first started his career in news and broadcast journalism on the radio station in Sioux City, KSCJ. Price served in World War II and worked at another radio station, KTRI, in Sioux City after arriving home from the war. Shortly after in 1948, Price uprooted himself and moved to Waterloo where he joined a larger radio station, KXEL-AM, which is still on air today, and eventually took over as the news director. In the context of the times, television was just on the horizon. Little did we know that this would fill Price’s life and the rest of his career.
Price wrote the history we read in textbooks and primary sources in classes today living through the frontlines of modern U.S. history, and was well known for his weekly show covering public interest entitled “Focal Point: The Community” on KWWL. He retired in 1989 but the weekly edition was so popular among viewers he continued to host it on air until 1993. To provide additional context, the film The Field of Dreams was filmed in Dyersville, Iowa in 1988.
When Price retired from his professional career in media, he began a new one by joining the faculty at Wartburg College. Decades of professional experience provided ample experiences for students to learn from in his ubiquitous knowledge of Iowa broadcast journalism. The times Price lived and reported through strengthened his strong belief in the first amendment, highlighting the right to free speech and freedom of the press. In his retirement as part of the faculty at Wartburg, Price founded the broadcasting program that still lives on as an influential program at the college. Price also founded the Iowa Broadcasting Oral History Project that was the beginning of the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting and is still housed at Wartburg. He retired from teaching in 2005, leaving large shoes to fill and an endowed chair in his name.
When discussing the life and legacy of Grant Price, the impact he had during his life continues to be on display after his passing — something akin to a legend. Price excelled during his years of work in journalism, both as reporter and director. As one of the first recipients of the Jack Shelley Award in 1975, Price exemplified the standard for the highest journalistic achievement in Iowa by displaying, “a high degree of professionalism, dedication to broadcast news, demonstrated competence in the field, and a record of cooperation with fellow broadcast journalists.” Throughout his career, he pushed himself to become better and did the same for all that worked with and for him. Excellence was a requirement and perfection was the goal.
We cannot stress enough how important Grant Price was to the field of journalism and the First Amendment rights of United States citizens in general. There is an endless amount of information that we are constantly learning about.
Stay tuned for more!