Sanders to receive award from Auburn Journalism Advisory Council
By Fred Woods
Bob Sanders, popular Observer columnist and even more popular long-time local radio personality, is one of five outstanding journalists to be honored at the AU Journalism Advisory Council’s 11th annual awards luncheon on Sept. 11. The luncheon, at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, will begin at 11:30. Tickets are $50 and may be ordered online at bitly.com/journalism awards.
Sanders, who will receive the Distinguished Mass Media Award, was born on a farm near Vernon, in northwest Alabama, is an Auburn (actually Alabama Polytechnic Institute) graduate who began a long and storied career in radio broadcasting at Auburn station WAUD after two years of army service on April 1, 1955. This is no April Fools joke. He really did begin on April 1. And he has filled the same time slot on that radio station ever since and, contrary to a recent press release, is still going strong, with no intention of retiring.
From his tiny sound room, Bob can be heard every morning from 5:30 to 10 a.m. “broadcasting from the luxurious Longview Lounge next to the Casino on the Tuskegee Turnpike.” Listeners look forward to his “traffic helicopter” segment which features an, to say the least, extremely odd helicopter crewed by townspeople supposedly flying around Auburn and vicinity reporting on traffic and other phenomena as viewed from above, all the while eating “soggy collard sandwiches.”
Since 1970, Sanders has also been a folksy newspaper columnist, first in the Lee County Bulletin, later The Eagle and the Opelika-Auburn News and currently the Opelika Observer. His writings include a book about his life, focusing on his “growing-up years” in rural Lamar County.
In addition to Sanders, this year’s other four award winners are H.Brandt “Brandy” Ayers, long-time publisher of the Anniston Star and one of Alabama’s most influential newspapermen, winner of the Roy Bain Distinguished Special Achievement in Journalism Award; Buddy Davidson, a key member of the Auburn University athletic department for more than half a century and winner of the Distinguished Auburn University Alumnus Award; Bruce McLellan, online editor of both the Decatur Daily and the Florence Times-Daily, winner of the Distinguished Alabama Community Journalist Award; and Paul South, of Pace, Fla., a versatile journalist who worked at the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper and newspapers in four other southern states, winner of the Distinguished Community Sports Journalism Award. South was actually nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of a crime story in Jasper several years ago.