Over the past 40 years, Steve Crump has built an enduring, profound and one-of-a-kind journalism career. He has spent the last 35 years as a reporter with WBTV-3 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and produced more than 20 documentary films on civil rights issues. His dedication and diverse body of work has earned Crump a spot in the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.
“I like to think of myself as the guy who just goes to work every day and does what he loves,” said Crump. “And I happen to see the manifestation of that in projects that have been on the local news or on documentaries.”
The Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame honors high-achieving journalists with Kentucky roots. Crump and 10 others will join more than 200 prior inductees.
Though the Louisville native entered EKU as a political science major, he caught the journalism bug and switched majors his second year. He credits his professors, as well as internships at radio stations WEKU and WEKY, both in Richmond, with building the foundation for his success.
“EKU gave me a chance to learn, to touch, and to grow. A lot of skills that I got there, I still use,” said Crump. “(My professors) were great encouragers to explore the potential within each and every one of us. I have a great debt of gratitude to Eastern Kentucky University.”
After graduating in 1980, Crump spent time working in Lexington, Savannah and several other cities before accepting a position with WBTV-3, a CBS affiliate. During his long tenure at the station, he has reported on subjects ranging from town hall meetings to civil rights protests. Some of his best-known stories feature him confronting racism head-on by interviewing known Ku Klux Klan members. He said as an African American, he knew there was significant risk.
“You always think about (the risk),” he said. “But if I'm able to tell a story that has validity, value and impact, perhaps we're in the right place to carry out our craft.”
The prospect of telling stories of African Americans that have validity, value and impact is what brought Crump into the business of making documentaries. He produced his first, “Carolina Concerns in South Africa,” in 1994. He has since produced titles such as “Orangeburg 50 Years Later,” “Facing an Uncomfortable Truth,” “Sojourn of the Strings,” “Smoketown: a Tradition to Treasure,” “Forgotten at the Finish Line,” and more. Many of them have aired across the Commonwealth on Kentucky Educational Television (KET).
“I'm hoping that (the documentaries) will make people think, and perhaps view history in a way that is not necessarily taught in the classroom,” said Crump. “There are so many stories out there that need to be showcased, and individuals who need to have their stories heard. If we can find the right vehicle to allow that to happen, I think we've done what we're supposed to do as journalists.”
The induction ceremony for the 40th class of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame will be held on March 31 at the University of Kentucky.