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USC Annenberg students receive Chick Hearn Scholarship

USC Annenberg Students Receive Chick Hearn Scholarship
Seniors Eleni Press and Jonathan Kendrick at Staples Center

Two USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism students who won the 2012 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship were the belles of the Lakers ball on Jan. 8 at Staples Center, where they were honored in a halftime ceremony at center court.

Eleni Press and Jonathan Kendrick, both seniors majoring in broadcast journalism, received $5,000 scholarships and the opportunity to intern at Fox Sports. The undergraduates were introduced to a crowd of 19,000 fans during the Lakers-Memphis Grizzlies game, and they were interviewed by 710 ESPN radio and Fox Sports West during pregame coverage.

Hearn’s widow, Marge Hearn, and School of Journalism director Geneva Overholser presented the award to Press and Kendrick. Fans cheered as a photo of the late broadcasting icon appeared on the giant scoreboard overhead. Before the game, the students were treated to a behind-the-scenes VIP tour of the arena and a courtside viewing of the Lakers’ warm-up.

“The best part is I grew up a Lakers fan listening to Chick Hearn every night that the Lakers were on,” said Kendrick, a 21-year-old from Upland who is minoring in business and Spanish. “It was the soundtrack of my youth, so it’s such an honor to be associated with him. He was probably the best broadcaster ever, and he’s so synonymous with basketball and the Lakers – to have my name mentioned with an award in his name is amazing.”

The Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship, now in its 10th year, was established with support from the Hearn family, the Lakers and Chick’s many fans in tribute to the legendary announcer. In addition to his more than 40 years with the Lakers, Hearn spent 1956 to 1961 as the announcer for USC Trojan football and basketball games.

Since 2002, 15 USC Annenberg students have been named scholarship winners. The program aims to continue Hearn’s legacy by giving broadcast journalism students the opportunity to further develop their own unique voices.

“To be associated with his name means so much because he was such a pioneer in his field,” said Press, 22, who is minoring in business and sports media studies. She is sports director at Annenberg TV News (ATVN) and also has interned with the Los Angeles Sparks and at CBS 2 in her hometown of Chicago.

Press said she is looking forward to an internship with Fox as a way to enhance what she has learned at USC Annenberg and in her previous internships.

“I love being a storyteller, and I love being right in the middle of the action. I think that’s why I like sideline reporting so much. Sometimes the biggest storyline of the game isn’t the final score but something that happened on the sideline that the audience might not see. When you’re a journalist, you have the power to inform the public of things they might not know about.

“And you get to be at these games that you grew up loving,” said Press, who credited her father for instilling in her a love of sports. She grew up cheering the Cubs at Wrigley Field and the Bulls at the United Center.

Kendrick said Hearn has been an inspiration as he established the groundwork for his own career. He aspires to be a play-by-play broadcaster for a major pro team or network, and he juggles his role as multimedia sports director at ATVN with jobs at Neon Tommy, the Daily Trojan and KXSC radio. During his time at USC, he also has worked as an intern with Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports Radio and KCBS/KCAL.

“Sports doesn’t mean just playing the game. It’s broadcasting, and it’s allowing people to enter into the lives of the players – to connect people watching the game with their heroes out on the court,” Kendrick said.

“Chick Hearn did such a great job of that with the fun way he broadcast the game – by describing some of the personality traits, and with his own phrases, and he made it accessible to everyone.

“I’ve tried emulating his style and incorporating that into my broadcasting,” he added. “To have a career even half as good as Chick Hearn’s would be a dream come true.”

The public may contribute to the fund to help deserving journalism students seeking careers in sports broadcasting. Donations may be sent to USC Annenberg Chick Hearn Fund, USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, 3502 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0281.

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USC Annenberg students receive Chick Hearn Scholarship

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