Gridiron Emcees

Each year, the Northwest Arkansas Gridiron invites a civic leader of some stature to become a piñata temporarily, or as we like to call them our emcee. They have ranged from politicians who already held office to university faculty who already held tenure to journalists who already had turned in their stories for the day. A bunch of unambitious folks.

They have been funny, clever, insightful and usually self-deprecating people, really devoted to their community and Arkansas, and good at making members of the audience feel welcome. They are also smart; only one of them volunteered to be emcee twice!

In no particular order, our emcees:

  • 1978, Harry Marsh, chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas
  • 1979, Varnell Lee, professor of journalism at the University of Arkansas
  • 1980, Ernie Deane, former journalism professor and columnist for the Arkansas Gazette
  • 1981, Dave Edmark, reporter for the Arkansas Gazette
  • 1982, Nate Allen, sports writer for the Arkansas Gazette
  • 1983, Steve Smith, professor of communication at the University of Arkansas
  • 1984, Larry Miller, director of Fayetteville Open Channel
  • 1985, Peggy Treiber, freelance journalist
  • 1986, David McWethy, assistant city manager of Fayetteville
  • 1987, Hoyt Purvis, professor of journalism and director of the Fulbright Institute of International Relations
  • 1988, Mike Gauldin, press secretary for Gov. Bill Clinton
  • 1989, Rick Stockdell, director of KUAF Radio
  • 1990, Boyce Davis, attorney and publisher of the Lincoln Leader
  • 2004, Scott VanLaningham, director of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport
  • 2005, Dan Ferritor, former chancellor of the University of Arkansas
  • 2006, Shirley Borhauer, state representative for House District 98
  • 2007, Dick Trammel, retired as executive vice president of Arvest Bank
  • 2008, Cindy Nance, dean of the University of Arkansas School of Law
  • 2009, Janine Parry, director of the Arkansas Poll and professor of political science
  • 2010, Kyle Kellams, news director for KUAF, and Laura Kellams, regional director for the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
  • 2011, John Brummett, columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
  • 2012, Dave Gearhart, chancellor of the University of Arkansas
  • 2013, Gerald Jordan, professor of journalism and former president of the Arkansas Alumni Association
  • 2014, John Threet, circuit judge of the Arkansas 4th Circuit
  • 2015, Dan Ferritor, former and interim chancellor of the University of Arkansas
  • 2016, Kent Eikenberry, director of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank
  • 2017, Greg Hines, mayor of Rogers
  • 2018, Steve Clark, president of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and former Arkansas attorney general
  • 2019, Bret Schulte, professor of journalism, and Stephanie Schulte, professor of communication
  • 2020, no emcee
  • 2021, Larry Foley, chair of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media
  • 2022, Patsy Watkins, former chair of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media
  • 2023, Larry Foley, professor of journalism and documentary filmmaker