Larry Foley, chair emeritus of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media at the University of Arkansas, will emcee the 2023 Northwest Arkansas Gridiron Show, to be performed Friday and Saturday, Oct. 6-7, at the Butterfield Trail Village Performance Hall.
Foley, who has taught at the university for 30 years and has nearly figured it out, was also chair of the school from 2014 to 2022. He also emceed the podcast version of the Gridiron created during covid.
“I figure my job this time will be to correct all the fake news in their half baked skits,” Foley said. He may have been referring to the time that the Gridiron Show referred to the former U of A Department of Journalism as the then-new School of Journalism and Strategic Welding, an honest mistake.
Foley, who had worked in commercial television news and public television for nearly two decades prior to becoming a professor, spearheaded creation of a university television studio in 1994 and organization of the new student television station, UATV, in 1996, now 27 years old.
In the years since, he has created numerous documentary films, most recently one about the U.S. Marshalls at Fort Smith and the Hangin’ Judge Isaac Parker. His next documentary will be “If This Walk Could Talk,” a film telling the stories of students, faculty and alumni of the University of Arkansas on its 150th anniversary. He is currently working on a documentary about the tortuous journey that Italian immigrants made to Arkansas more than a century ago, eventually arriving in Northwest Arkansas and founding the community of Tontitown.
Foley’s films have earned seven Mid America Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and 19 Emmy nominations in writing, journalistic enterprise, history, cultural history, special program and community service. His films have also received four Best of Festival of Media Arts awards from the international Broadcast Education Association. In 2017, he was inducted into the Mid America Emmy Silver Circle for a distinguished career invested in teaching, reporting, writing, producing and directing stories, mostly about his beloved home state of Arkansas.
“No idea why this irreverent outfit picked me to emcee, much less twice,” Foley said. “Seems like scraping the bottom of the barrel. Not doubt I wasn’t at the top of their list.”