Dave Underhill (COM’74)
Preserving ethics in journalism
A COM alumnus and his scholarship bequest
Dave Underhill has been hooked on radio since age 14, when he worked in the student radio station at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. From the foundations of that early experience, he carved a lengthy career, becoming a familiar figure on airwaves across the nation. In his many years as an announcer and station owner, he served the industry with a sonorous voice (which he still has), a mastery of the business side of the medium and a devotion to journalistic ethics. Today, his financial support helps COM instill the same principles in students.
At BU, Underhill (’74), who spent a gap year as a radio announcer in Georgia and in Long Island, New York, before arriving in Boston, juggled TV and radio gigs alongside his coursework—including a stint with WBZ’s Red Sox crew. After graduation, he rose through the ranks at WCVB-TV to become chief engineer, in charge of 100 technicians and all station facilities. Then, for 11 years, he and his wife owned and ran WKVT in Brattleboro, Vermont, where they won numerous Associated Press awards. In every role, Underhill says, he relied on the “solidly traditional” journalism values he learned at BU: “Holding people accountable, digging out the facts, not accepting at face value some politician’s version of the truth—those core values of journalism stay with you.”
Now retired from full-time work and preparing to become Rotary’s district governor for southern Maine and coastal New Hampshire in July 2017, Underhill has established a bequest for the University in his estate plans to help students offset tuition costs. He’s confident the investment will also reap benefits for the industry to which he’s dedicated his life. “COM is where I think we’re going to grow responsible journalists who aren’t beholden to commercial interests or ideology, but go where the story takes them.”
An act of generosity writes a new chapter in a story begun 20 years ago on the other side of the world.