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                                                                                                                                                                                                                               NEWS SERVICES
210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
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For immediate useDec. 1, 1997 -- No. 891

Local angle: Greensboro

Top DJ Rick Dees creates production award for students


UNC-CH College of Arts and Sciences

CHAPEL HILL -- Rick Dees, one of America's leading radio and television entertainers, has pledged an endowed fund and production equipment to the communication studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A substantial cash gift will endow an annual Rick Dees Student Production Award. Income from the fund will be awarded to one student every year to pay for such production expenses as film stock, processing, tape, equipment rental, props, location costs, transportation and insurance.

Students will compete for the award by presenting their ideas and budgets for films and videos to an award panel. Dees also will donate production equipment for student use in Swain Hall, the university's student production center.

Dees, a Greensboro native and 1972 Carolina graduate, hosts Los Angeles' top-rated morning drive-time program on Jacor Broadcasting's KIIS-FM. Billboard Magazine has named him America's number one radio personality 10 years in a row. His “Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 Countdown” is heard by 50 million people every week on more than 350 stations in the United States and 70 countries.

“The University of North Carolina provided me with every tool necessary to rise to the top of my profession,” Dees said. “Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my toolbox.”

Dees earned a degree in radio, television and motion pictures. That department merged in 1993 with the speech communication department to form the communication studies , which continues to teach production and theory courses applicable to film, video and broadcasting.

“All of us in the department are absolutely delighted with Rick Dees' gifts,” said Dr. Bill Balthrop, chair of the communication studies department. “The proceeds from the Rick Dees Student Production Fund will generate resources every year to assist talented and motivated students with funding for their projects. The new equipment will give our students the best media production tools available. Together, these gifts will be a major force in moving outstanding student projects from creative ideas to their realization in film and video.”

Communication studies -- the third-largest department in UNC-CH's College of Arts and Sciences and the fourth-largest degree-granting unit in the university -- has 986 undergraduate majors, 42 master's level students and 25 faculty. Undergraduate programs include media studies, interpersonal communication, organizational communication, performance studies and speech and hearing science.

Students and faculty in media studies have received national recognition including awards from the Sundance Film Festival, the American Film Institute and the National Educational Association for their work in film and video. Media studies students may participate in the UNC-Hollywood summer internship program offered by the department in Hollywood.

As a songwriter and recording artist, Dees has won a People's Choice Award and has a platinum record ($1 million in sales) for his comedy hit, “Disco Duck.” Dees also has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In movies and television, Dees has starred in “La Bamba,” “Roseanne” and “Married With Children.” He hosted late nights on ABC Television with “Into the Night, Starring Rick Dees” and hosted the popular syndicated series “Solid Gold” from Paramount Television.

He is married to Julie Dees, a comedienne and voice artist whose credits include the voices of Casper the Friendly Ghost and Betty Rubble on “The Flintstones.” Julie and Rick live in Hollywood with their son, Kevin, a student at the University of Southern California. Dees is trying to get him to transfer to UNC-CH.

“Rick is a wonderful example of a successful alumnus willing to give of himself to create better opportunities for students,” Balthrop said. “His commitment is a powerful expression of confidence in the talents of Carolina students and the importance of media production in the department. His contribution also provides testimony to the hard work, progressive thought and creative efforts of students, alumni and faculty. Rick's generosity will help students develop their artistic potential in film and video. It is a wonderful and affirming gift.”

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Note: Dees requested that the amount of the gift not be disclosed.

Photos are available from News Services.

College of Arts and Sciences contact: Speed Hallman (919) 962-8216

Los Angeles contact: Von Freeman, marketing director, KIIS-FM (818) 295-6568

News Services contact: Laura J. Toler, (919) 962-8589