Athens, Ga. – The Peabody Awards and the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication today mourn the passing of Worth McDougald, a UGA faculty member for more than four decades and Peabody director from 1963 to 1991. Known to thousands of students and journalists as “Dr. Mac,” McDougald died Thursday morning at an Athens hospital at age 82.
“Worth McDougald is a giant of 20th century UGA history,” said UGA president Michael F. Adams. “He laid the foundation for what has become the most prized honor in broadcasting, the Peabody Awards. His focus on quality as the guiding criterion informs the selection process even today. As great as his impact on the broadcast industry has been, his impact on students and colleagues in the Grady College may have been even greater. For 42 years he served this university with dignity, dedication and humor, and we will miss him very much.”
Cully Clark, dean of Grady College, called McDougald “a Grady institution” and “a remarkable presence” in the college. “My first encounter with Worth came at a luncheon meeting last fall,” Clark said. “We spoke briefly, and I knew I had a friend and resource for the long haul. His wonderful sense of humor made him one of those rare individuals that everyone is glad to see coming. He will be sorely missed by the college, the university, indeed the world of broadcast media.”
During his tenure on the University of Georgia faculty, McDougald headed what was then known as the department of radio, television and film and developed and served as first director of the University’s Instructional Resources Center. He also served as a member of the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors and was named to emeritus status upon his retirement.
In World War II, McDougald served in the United States Navy in the Pacific Theater. Upon leaving the service, he completed his degree requirements at Emory University in 1947. He joined the staff of radio station WWNS in Statesboro, Ga., as program and news director and, from there, was recruited to the University of Georgia by John Drewery in 1949. In 1951, McDougald was recalled to active duty with the Navy and served during the Korean War, attaining the rank of Lt. Commander. After returning to the university, he received a master of arts in political science from UGA in 1954 and a Ph. D. from Ohio State University in 1964. He was named to the Georgia Broadcasting Hall of Fame by the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.
McDougald served as Director of the Peabody Awards program from 1963 until his retirement in 1991, when he was named Director Emeritus. Under his leadership, the Peabody program developed in many ways, including the establishment of rotating boards of specialists who select the awards, and the use of well-known media figures as hosts for the annual awards presentation. He was also instrumental in the archiving and digital saving of thousands of important radio and television programs dating to the 1940s, when the Peabodys were inaugurated.
He is survived by his wife, Charlotte, son Bill, two daughters, Susan and Missy, several grandchildren, and brothers Don and Mike McDougald.
Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Central Presbyterian Church in Athens.