2019: Anne Holt Blackburn
Anne Holt Blackburn, Nashville’s most veteran TV news anchor, was one of thirteen children born to a family of sharecroppers in West Tennessee. She graduated from UT in 1973 with a BS in broadcasting and retired in January 2017 from her duties as TV news anchor at WKRN-TV in Nashville, where she worked for forty years.
She has received many awards and honors, including eight Emmys, the George Foster Peabody Award for the investigative documentary Under the Influence, and the 2007 Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement—the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ highest honor. The Nashville Conference on Community and Justice awarded her the Jerry Thompson Communicator’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994, when she was also the first recipient of the College of Communication and Information’s Donald G. Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award. The first woman, the first African American, and the first news anchor to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters, Blackburn was inducted into the first class of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame in 2013.
Blackburn is a community servant, generously giving back to UT, Nashville, and Tennessee. She served on the College of Communication and Information Board of Visitors (1990–2007) and on the UT Board of Trustees (2007–2013). She has led News 2’s twenty-eight-year partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and served on many charitable boards, including Book ’em, Leadership Nashville, Cumberland Valley Girl Scouts, the Middle Tennessee March of Dimes, Inroads/Nashville, and the United Way of Middle Tennessee.