Allen C. Jeffries · 1971
By Karen Gadbury
Allen C. Jeffries was born July 16, 1910, to Claude and Anna Jeffries on a farm in Putnam County, Ind., which had been settled by his ancestors in the early 1800s. He went to grade school in a one-room schoolhouse at Barnard and to high school in Roachdale, Ind., where he was said to have a talent for public speaking.
Jeffries graduated from DePauw University with honors in 1931 and a degree in English and journalism. His first job was not in broadcasting but as a foreman with the Civilian Conservation Corps at Brown County State Park from June 1933 to June 1934, where he helped construct the lakes which still exist today.
In June 1934, Jeffries became foreman of the Lake Wawasee Fish Hatchery, an all black CCC project, which he said broadened his outlook on life. “The blacks lost their jobs first during the Depression and we had teachers and professionals who all worked well together. We even started a literary club,” Jeffries told one of his sons.
Jeffries married Marjorie Ricketts from Greencastle in December 1933 and they first lived in Nashville, Ind., where their first child Anne was born. They had four children, Anne Jeffries Colwell, James C., Allen C. Jr. and Michael A. Jeffries.
Allen Jeffries worked for several years for the Social Security Board and didn’t start his career in broadcast journalism until the early 1940s. His first exposure to broadcasting was doing a Social Security program for a Lafayette, Indiana, radio station. It was during this time he was heard and offered a full time job as an early morning newscaster for WOWO radio in Fort Wayne.
In 1946, Jeffries spent the summer writing for United Press International, but left to be a newscaster for the startup of WBAT radio in Marion, and later became a news editor and newscaster at WKMO radio in Kokomo.
Jeffries came to Indianapolis in October 1947 as a newscaster and commentator for WIRE radio. The station was owned by Indianapolis Newspapers, Inc. which published The Indianapolis Star. Jeffries delivered evening newscasts from the Star city room. He often delivered copy that was prepared for print and ended his radio newscasts with a traffic safety tip, which won him the first annual OSCA award given by the Indianapolis Safety Council.
Jeffries was one of Central Indiana’s most prominent and respected radio news broadcasters in the late 1940s through the 1960s, and was well known for his deep and resonant vocal delivery. In 1955, he received the first annual award for radio newscasters presented by the Butler University chapter of Alpha Epsilon Rho, the national professional radio-television society.
Jeffries left WIRE to work at WISH radio, which became WIFE, and later he left Indiana to take jobs as news director for WSJM in St. Joseph, Mich., and WCOL radio in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1961, Jeffries returned to Indianapolis to work for WFBM, which became WRTV. He was a radio newscaster and an assignment editor but most prominently a writer for the station’s highly respected editorial department. He was valued for the clarity and precision of his writing, receiving national awards for his editorials.
“He was a walking reference book for us on local, national and international issues,” his co-anchor at WRTV, Howard Caldwell, once said. “He really had one of those fabulous minds that was always functioning.”
Jeffries was an early radio voice from the Indianapolis 500 for NBC and continued broadcasting from the track when the race was covered by WFBM. He was a member of Sigma Delta Chi and the Radio and Television News Directors Association.
Jeffries retired in 1975 and died Dec. 5, 1980, in Fayetteville, Ga. He was buried in the family plot near his birthplace of Roachdale, Ind.
In 2012, Allen C. Jeffries was posthumously selected by his fellow broadcasters to become a member of the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame.