Fred Walters is a native Pennsylvanian, born in Philadelphia. He enlisted in the United States Navy immediately after high school graduation, serving from 1945 until January, 1949. His principal service was in Saipan, Marianas Islands, and the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland.
After his service, he enrolled at Purdue University, transferring to the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors in 1953. In his senior year, he joined The Associated Press as a copy boy in December, 1952, and won a place on the editorial staff the following spring even before his graduation. He also worked parttime with Time Magazine's production office in Philadelphia while a student at Penn.
In 1957, the Associated Press transferred him to its Harrisburg bureau. In six years in Harrisburg, he was the AP's reporter in the House of Representatives and state political reporter. Walters was president of the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association in 196263 and founding President of the Capitol Press Club, which has since been disbanded.
He left the AP in November, 1963, to go to work for Philadelphia industrialist Milton Shapp as press secretary. Shapp announced as a candidate for the United State Senate, but withdrew and Walters took his first broadcasting job, as reporter for WIPAM in Philadelphia in the spring of 1964. A twoweek investigative series on the civil rights movement in Chester, Pennsylvania, gained him his first award, an honorable mention from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
In July, 1965, he began what was to be a 19year association with Westinghouse Broadcasting. He was the editor on duty when KYWAM in Philadelphia launched its allnews format. Westinghouse transferred him to become chief of its Harrisburg bureau in 1966, serving its radio and television stations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In 1968, he won formal recognition of broadcasters in the rules of the House and Senate governing media access. That same year he became the first television newsman to film the Senate in session.
In 1969, he returned to KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia as its news director and became its executive editor in 1970. During his term as executive editor the station rose to become Number One in the Philadelphia market.
In 1978, he was transferred to the company's allnews station in New York City, WINS. In 1980, he became National Political Correspondent for Westinghouse, but left the company in September of that year to become news director of the ABCowned radio station in Detroit, WXYZ (now WHYT). Within a year that station became "Michigan's Most Honored News Team" (based on awards in the state Associated Press and United Press International competitions). It repeated that honor in the next year and also won a national award for investigative reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Westinghouse hired Walters back in 1983 as executive editor of its allnews station in Los Angeles, KFWB. He retired from Westinghouse in 1985 to form his own consultancy, News Horizons.
In 16 years as a news executive, Walters planned, organized and produced local coverage of such special events as elections (local, state and national), the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations in Philadelphia and Valley Forge, the 1976 Ecumenical Congress in Philadelphia (a quadrennial international event of the Roman Catholic Church, held in the U. S. for the first time in 40 years), inauguration of legalized gambling in Atlantic City in 1978, the 1980 papal visit to New York City, and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
He also directed local coverage of several major breaking news stories over the years, including the 1972 Pennsylvania floods, the bombing of the U. S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, Vietnam protest demonstrations, Watergate hearings, the 1969 Moon Landing, auto industry labor negotiations, the explosion of the Shuttle Challenger in 1986, as well as many natural disasters such as snowstorms, floods, fires (including California brush fires), and earthquakes.
The National Headliners Club honored him for a series of 12, onehour programs he wrote and produced, in cooperation with the University of Pennsylvania, for the Westinghouse stations for the 1976 Bicentennial. The Freedoms Foundation also honored KYW for its overall coverage of the 1976 Bicentennial.
Walters returned to Pennsylvania, and Harrisburg, in 1989 to become director of information for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Majority Caucus. In September 1991 he was named press secretary for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, retiring in 1997. He became facilitator for the Commonwealth’s World War II Commemorative Committee 1991-95. The Department of Defense's World War II Commemorative Committee executive director, Lt. Gen. Claude M. Kicklighter publicly credited his recruiting efforts with making Pennsylvania a leader among all states in the number of commemorative committees (second only to California).
Following retirement he became adviser to the student radio station at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania, and adjunct professor of journalism at the college. He also researched his long-promised book on a Delaware Revolutionary War hero. It was published in 2005 as “John Haslet: A Useful One.”
Walters is married to the former Lilian Parker of Philadelphia. Their four children produced ten grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
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