John Roberts
September 1996

Some broadcasters in Philadelphia know Broadcast Pioneers member John B. Roberts as their communications professor at Temple University. Others think of him as the weekend TV anchor for Channel 6 for decades. Still others remember him from his radio news anchor duties on WFIL Radio.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University in 1940 and the next year earned his Masters degree at the University of Iowa. His Thesis' topic was "The Speech Philosophy of Clarence Darrow."

He joined the teaching staff at Temple University in 1946. Previous to that, he taught at the University of Maine. He was the founder of WRTI Radio and co-founder of WHYY radio and television.

A Temple University PR piece issued on October 19, 1978, said:

In describing John B. Roberts, professor of communications and the initial mover and shaker of the department, Dr. (Gordon) Gray (a member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia) called him, 'the Grand Old Man of the department, with emphasis on the Grand...." Talking about the beginnings of WRTI, it said, "There were no facilities on campus that were not being used. The only place available was the basement of Thomas Hall. It didn't have any windows and no one else wanted it...

So that became the home of the department's studios...," commented the veteran broadcaster (referring to Roberts). When this building (Annenberg Hall) was designed, it was not designed to be a school, it was to be a communication center for people in broadcasting, journalism, film and theater. "I got the idea for a building, drew up the initial blueprints for it and took them to the dean, who approved them.

"I had worked with Walter Annenberg for 25 years and knew he was interested in giving money, and to top things off Walter liked me," added Mr. Roberts. Eventually the State gave the building and Walter Annenberg equipped it. Mr. Roberts was asked to design the interior of the building and to select all of the equipment...."

John was our 30th president serving from 1992 to 1994. Although he was our 30th president, his was our first president to serve two terms. He was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 1996 and was our "Person of the Year" in 1987. John Roberts has served for decades on our Board of Directors. Roberts passed away on March 8, 2012.

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member John Roberts
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