Denfeld News

April 22, 2013
Business North

WPR reporters honored for Bong documentary

Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Mike Simonson and the late Jim Packard were just named winners of a National Headliner Award for their documentary titled “Forever Ace: The Richard Bong Story.”

The piece, which aired on Veteran’s Day last year, received the first place award in the “Broadcast radio networks and syndicators documentary or public affairs” category.

Placing second in that category was “An Occupational Hazard: Rape in the Military,” by reporters for SiriusXM Radio in Washington, D.C.; third place was awarded to Colorado Public Radio in Centennial, Colo., for a series called “Colorado Matters.”

The two hour long “Forever Ace: The Richard Bong Story,” narrated by WPR’s Packard, includes a compilation of 10 years of interviews by WPR Superior bureau (KUWS FM) reporter Simonson and his WPR colleagues. Simonson wrote and produced “Forever Ace.” Packard worked out of Madison and was a co-host with Michael Feldman on “Whad’Ya Know.”

The award-winning Richard Bong piece can be heard at (scroll to the third story on the home page) or in two parts at

Bong’s wingman, tent mate and crew chief during his service in the South Pacific are interviewed in the story, as are friends and members of his family including his widow Marjorie Bong-Drucker. In addition, historians from the United States Air Force Academy and the Australian War Museum also talk about the significance of the time Bong served in World War II and the legacy he leaves today.

The story also includes popular Big Band music from World War II and vintage audio clips of Richard Bong when he was on stateside leave. Major Bong’s record of 40 kills has never been equaled by an American pilot.

Many of the veterans featured were interviewed after visiting the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior. All of them thought it was important to share memories of serving with Bong from 1942 until 1945.

Founded in 1934 by the Press Club of Atlantic City, the National Headliner Awards program is one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic merit in the communications industry. The first National Headliner Awards were presented in 1935. Since then, more than 2,000 Headliner medallions have been presented to outstanding writers, photographers, daily newspapers, magazines, graphic artists, radio and television stations and networks, and news syndicates.

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