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Ferrell Wellman: Profile of a Kentucky Journalism Giant

Mark Wilson, who chairs the political portion of the Fancy Farm Picnic issued a press release announcing that for the 2013 Picnic, veteran newsman Ferrell Wellman will be the emcee of the stump speaking. The date for the picnic is August 3, 2013. As usual the picnic will be held on the grounds of the St. Jerome Catholic Church. This event is a major fund raiser for the church and the community of Fancy Farm  in Graves County Kentucky.

Wellman has had a colorful journalism career in Kentucky. From 1973 through 1991, he work for Louisville’s WAVE-TV Channel 3 as their eyes and hears reporting on Frankfort politics and state issues. During this time, Wellman worked as a one man broadcasting and reporting force. Often after a press briefing or special political event, Ferrell could be seen interviewing key political figures with his TV camera resting on his shoulders.  

It was during the Governor’s race of 1980 when John Y. Brown stopped Terry McBrayer from winning the race that Ferrell Wellman rose to insider importance upon the Frankfort political scene.  

As Governor Julian Carroll was leaving office in 1979, he hand selected the young Commerce Cabinet Secretary to run for governor as away to continue the Carroll Administration polices. 

Millionaire John Y. Brown, fresh from expanding Kentucky Fred chicken into a world food giant, exploded upon the Kentucky political scene. Brown also had in tow a former Miss America, Phyllis Brown.  For much of the primary fight in 1979, Brown used these two assets with great skill. 

Brown’s campaign theme was”Run government like a business.” Wherever he campaigned, he often would use the glamour of his wife and that of landing at each event in rural Kentucky by helicopter. Beauty and technology was captured for Kentucky media markets through Ferrell Wellman’s portable WAVE-TV camera.  This magic of theme, glamour, and bold personal millionaire style allowed Brown to win the governor’s race. The Kentucky media followed Brown’s campaign manly through the lens of Wellman’s WAVE-TV camera. 

Wellman left the madness of daily journalism in 1991. He soon became a professor at Eastern Kentucky University. For 15 years he taught broadcasting electronic media courses at EKU. 

Now retired from the educational and journalism reporting, Wellman hosts the Kentucky Educational Television show on Kentucky politics, Comment on Kentucky.  


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