Missouri Broadcasters Association honors veteran newsman
On a sweltering May afternoon, Martin Duggan sat down for a coffee and a catch-up with the St. Louis Beacon. Though he retired from the Emmy-award winning show he helped create, "Donnybrook," in 2009, things have been rather exciting for him lately.
On May 26, he and his wife, Mae, celebrated 70 years of marriage. On June 3, he'll turn 91. And the day before that, he'll be honored by the Missouri Broadcasters Association with an induction into their hall of fame.
"I was so pleased, naturally," he says, though Duggan has no idea who nominated him and jokes for a bit about the antics of two aging men, himself and the late Ed Macauley, on their radio show "Beat the Press," on KSIV.
"In his latter years, Ed was, by his own admission, beginning to get Alzheimer's, and I don't hear hardly at all, so you can imagine what a great combination this is during a radio show," Duggan remembers, laughing.
He began his career with the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in 1939 as a copy editor for the news desk. He went on to work as news editor, associate managing editor and editorial page editor. He retired when the paper was sold in 1984. In 1987, Duggan began the popular news program "Donnybrook," on Nine Network (then just Channel 9,) where he regularly sparred with other local journalists including St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan and Ray Hartmann, founder of the Riverfront Times.
Duggan and his wife have five children, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. And he was an easy choice for the award, says Donald J. Hicks, president and CEO of the MBA.
This is only the second year that the MBA has had a hall of fame, though it has been around for 60 years.
"We have a huge list," Hicks says.
And the criteria is simple. They're looking for people who have made a significant impact on broadcasting in Missouri, or Missourians who have made an impact elsewhere.
"It's such an obvious choice," he says of choosing Duggan.
Duggan will be joined by friends and family on Saturday night for the MBA award ceremony. Other inductees include the late Jack Buck and sportscaster Jay Randolph Jr.
Duggan continues watching "Donnybrook" each week and thinks his old crew is doing a great job. He gets together with them now and then.
Though he has retired and is not as busy as he once was, he's in good health, still drives, and still devours the Wall Street Journal and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch every morning. He also gets news online, and over coffee, wonders for a moment how different his career would have been with the help of Google.
When talk turns to the coming presidential election, he remembers clearly the thrill of working in the newsroom on election night, and he still misses it.