William R. Grant, a 1980 Nieman Fellow and an award-winning reporter and television producer, passed away on May 15 of complications from pneumonia. He was 72.
Born in Winchester, Kentucky, Grant attended the University of Kentucky and, in 1965, became the first to earn a master’s degree in mass communications at the school. He began his career in print journalism, working at a number of newspapers in Kentucky and across the country, including The [Louisville] Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Detroit Free Press, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Grant later made the transition to broadcast journalism, first joining Boston’s public broadcasting station WGBH in 1983. He spent two years as managing editor of “Frontline” and then a decade as executive editor of “NOVA.” He later moved to New York’s WNET as executive director of public television series and specials centered on science, natural history, and features, including groundbreaking shows such as “Frontier House” and the miniseries “African American Lives.” Grant also co-founded the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in 1991, and continued to serve as chairman emeritus of the festival board until his death.
Over the course of his career, Grant won 13 Emmys and eight Peabody Awards. He was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 2001.
Grant, who retired in 2011, moved to Atlanta from New York to be near family.
He is survived by his wife, Ellen; two sons, Mitchell and Rees; daughter Elizabeth; brother Walter; sisters Anne Grant Holloway and Mary Grant Anderson; and two grandchildren. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21 at Northside Drive Baptist Church in Atlanta.