In Memoriam: Greg Shanley

Greg Shanley, the long-time news director of KUNI — the public radio affiliate in Cedar Falls, died last night in the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City.  He was 49 years old. Shanley most recently had been a producer for Iowa Public Radio’s talk shows and host of “Talk of Iowa.”  

I first met Greg in person in 1994.  He had a good laugh and a winsome smile — and he ran an award-winning newsroom.  Greg is a past-president of the Iowa Broadcast News Association. His father was a broadcaster, too, in Greg’s home state of Ohio.

On behalf of my Radio Iowa colleagues, our sympathies to his family and friends.

UPDATE — From his friends at Iowa Public Radio, here is Greg’s obituary:

Greg Shanley (1960-2010)

Greg was an Ohio native, born in Toledo and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Parma Heights.  Broadcasting was literally in his blood.  His dad Gib Shanley worked as a television sports anchor in Cleveland for more than 20 years  He also did the play-by-play for the Cleveland Browns.  Greg had planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and go into sports, but found it boring in between games, and preferred covering news. Greg received a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism from Ohio University.  Shortly after graduation, he followed the woman that would become his wife (Sonya) to Okeechobee, Florida where she had a teaching job.  They married, and the couple moved to Shelby, NC (where son Evan was born) and then to San Angelo, TX (where daughter Leigha was born).  Greg was interested in returning to the Midwest and trying public radio, so he applied to work at KUNI, and was hired in 1987 as a Producer/Reporter, and was quickly promoted to the local host of Morning Edition and then News Director.  He had planned to only stay “a couple of years”.

In 2007, after creation of Iowa Public Radio, Greg decided nearly 20 years of waking up early was enough, and he started in a new venture in public radio.  He was the producer for “The Exchange”, the talk show that was now heard statewide.  Then in 2009, Greg moved into the role of talk show host, first hosting “Talk@12” and then “Talk of Iowa”.  His depth of knowledge and genuine curiosity about the world was apparent to listeners, as he could hold engaging conversations on topics ranging from politics to horticulture.

In 2006, Greg entered the Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout Competition at the Iowa State Fair.  Going up against serious veterans in cookout competitions, Greg and his “Double Burgers” prepared on a small portable grill wowed the judges and shocked his fellow competitors.  He was named “2006 Iowa Farm Bureau Cookout King”.

He once said his favorite story he did in Iowa was a follow-up to the Mount Pleasant City Council shootings.  It was his examination of the leadership hole left in the community after the shootings that exemplified his commitment to going in-depth and finding the story behind the headlines.  Greg was a true journalist, and committed to serving his listeners.

Greg is survived by his wife Sonya, daughter Leigha, son Evan and infant grandson Titan.

UPDATE:  The Waterloo Courier has a story posted online, with comments from IPR co-worker Pat Blank.  Iowa Public Radio aired a tribute to Shanley during “afternoon drive” last night.  You can find it here.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. Wow, I am so shocked and saddened by this news. My deepest sympathy to Greg’s family. I’ve been a long time IPR listener and really loved Greg’s work. He will be deeply missed.

  2. I just heard at the end of the show this am of Greg’s passing. I will miss his daily visits each morning. My sympathies to his family, and his public radio friends and colleagues.

  3. Jennifer WIlson says

    I know it is cliche, but I’m shocked and saddened.

  4. Brian Allen says

    I had no idea about Greg’s passing. 13 y ears ago, he was among the first to welcome me to the Iowa Broadcast News Association. He pushed me to get involved and was always available for advice, usually through e-mail. He was a great broadcaster and a fantastic guy. The broadcasting industry has lost a real pro.

  5. It was my privilege to work with Greg Shanley from 2000-2005 at KUNI. In my roles as Development Director and General Manager during my tenure there, I worked with Greg on a number of projects. Greg had a great sense of humor; he always made me laugh, especially when we were on the air together raising money for public radio. When my daughter called me today to tell me the news I felt a great deal of sadness for his family and the community of Cedar Falls, where Greg was very active in many things, especially the support of University High sports. Greg’s passing is a great loss for the listeners of public radio in Iowa as well as the close knit, KUNI family of employees and former employees.

    John Hess
    General Manager
    Boise State Public Radio
    Boise, Idaho

  6. Erich Riesenberg says

    I was a listener and call in participant. What a surprise. I hope his family and friends are okay.


  1. […] Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa first told me this morning of Shanley’s death. Here’s her story. […]