Clarence Waldron receives 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Headline Club

Clarence Waldron has been named the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Headline Club’s 2020 Peter Lisagor Awards.

Often called “the dean of arts and entertainment journalists,” Waldron has enjoyed a distinguished career in journalism for more than 35 years, including a 29-year tenure as senior writer and senior editor of Jet Magazine.

“This is a long overdue and deserved award,” said Grammy-winner Dionne Warwick. “Clarence has been absolutely phenomenal…I am certain that he will continue writing and bringing the greatness to the people who deserve to hear it and know about it.”

Waldron has been an adjunct professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism since 1998. His courses include “Reporting & Writing,” “Magazine Writing” and “Covering Popular Music,” a music journalism course that he created for graduate students.

Recording artist India.Arie also passed along her congratulations and admiration for Waldron in a recorded message that will be part of a video that will be released after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m sending big love and greetings to everybody,” India.Arie said. “I’ve been up all night in the studio but I had to get up and send this for Clarence.”

  • Stevie Wonder in conversation with Clarence Waldron

Chicago Headline Club board member Geoffrey Black offered this memory about working with Waldron:

“On January 13, 2010, legendary R&B singer Teddy Pendergrass died. This was my first week as the new Jet Magazine photo editor and…the scheduled magazine was a wrap, save being sent to the printer. I remember Clarence Waldron’s calm reaction to the news while the rest of us scrambled to get content to fill the the hole our new cover story would occupy. He picked up his phone called Teddy’s people, got quotes and anecdotes from family and friends as well as from musicians like Aretha Franklin. Man, was I impressed he know who to call and had their info at his fingertips. That’s why they call Clarence the Dean of Chicago entertainment writers.”

Waldron also has taught at Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University. He holds a Master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City. In 2010, the National Association of Black Journalists presented him with the Legacy Award and named him, you guessed it, the “dean of arts and entertainment journalists.”

Here’s how Waldron responded to receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award:

“I am honored…an award is people’s way of saying, ‘We think that you’ve done it.’ And that’s the way it has to be accepted. Thank you for recognizing me and celebrating my career. This honor encourages me to continue my writing.”

The Chicago Headline Club is the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the nation. Each year, it administers the Peter Lisagor Awards, which recognize excellence in journalism.

Due the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve cancelled our banquet this year, but Clarence will be invited to next year’s event to accept his award, show a career spanning video and say a few words publicly.

This year full’s list of winners will be announced with a virtual event on May 15.