It's been more than 50 years since Roger Ailes graduated from Warren G. Harding High School, but the roots he grew here still run deep, according to those who know him.
Ailes, chairman and CEO of FOX News, will be honored next month in Washington, D.C., with the prestigious 2013 Bradley Prize award presented by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.
Ailes was described by the head of the Wisconsin-based foundation as a "visionary of American journalism."
Fox News CEO and Harding grad Roger Ailes speaks in Warren during a 2008 Veterans' Day rememberance. File photo
Shortly after his 1958 graduation from Harding High School, Ailes headed to Cleveland, where he began his long and illustrious career in television broadcasting, Ailes' friend and fellow Harding alumnus Dennis Blank recalled recently. Blank, who became friends with Ailes when the two lived and worked in Manhattan, said the two would sometimes meet for a drink in the Big Apple.
"I know he's got very fond memories of Warren and that he feels that the values that he gained when he grew up in Warren are what helped further him most fundamentally in life," Blank said.
Now retired from his career in print media, Blank has an apartment back in Warren and says he hasn't had the opportunity to speak with Ailes in a few years.
Snapshot: Roger Ailes
1958: Graduated from Warren G. Harding High School, Warren
1965: Rose from "prop boy" to executive producer of "The Mike Douglas Show."
1970-1992: Operated Ailes Communications, Inc., a media advisory company that counted among its clients three U.S. Presidents, senators, governors, and Fortune 500 CEOs.
1981: Served as executive producer of NBC's "Tomorrow: Coast to Coast."
1993: Named president of CNBC. In the years following, he also produced several nationally syndicated television specials including Emmy award-winning "Television and the Presidency."
1996: Launched FOX News Channel.
2001, 2002, 2006, 2007: Named "Most Powerful Person in TV news" by Television Week.
2007: Oversaw the launch of FOX Business Network.
2008: Inducted into Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame.
2008: Returned to Warren to deliver keynote address at dedication of Trumbull County Veterans Memorial.
2013: Named recipient of prestigious Bradley Prize for Outstanding Achievement
Source: FOX News, Tribune Chronicle archives
He described the "toughness" and "grittiness" that Ailes possesses in business today as originating from growing up in the middle of Warren.
"He was a real Warren city kid and grew up valuing hard work and toughness and determination," Blank said. Today, that toughness translates into a business savvy.
"He says what he's thinking, and he really doesn't care much who he's talking to," Blank said with a chuckle. "I am sure it's ruffled more than a couple feathers."
Perhaps, but it likely also has helped him garner national recognition, including being listed among this year's Bradley Prize winners.
"Roger Ailes has been a visionary of American journalism," said Michael W. Grebe, president and CEO of the Bradley Foundation. "His innovative business-building strategies have revolutionized the uncovering and delivery of news in America."
The winners are chosen from the Bradley Prizes selection committee from among more than 200 nominations of prominent individuals nationwide.
"Through the Bradley Prizes, we recognize individuals like Roger Ailes whose accomplishments strengthen American institutions, in hopes that others will strive for excellence in their respective fields," Grebe said.
Along with the award comes a stipend of $250,000.
Founded in 1985, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is devoted to strengthening American democratic capitalism and the institutions, principles and values that sustain and nurture it.
Attorney Ned Gold of Howland has previously recalled Ailes, saying, ''He is very proud of his Warren, Ohio, heritage, and many of his views and beliefs were molded from his life growing up here.''