Ted Landphair, a native of Lakewood, Ohio, and the husband of This is America! photographer Carol M. Highsmith, recently retired from the Voice of America, where he worked as a feature reporter and writer, specializing in “Americana” coverage for VOA’s international audience. Over the last four years there, he wrote VOA’s Americana blog, “Ted Landphair’s America,” in which he recounted stories of his travel to every state, often with Carol. Her photos were a highlight of just about every blog. Ted also wrote about current trends and issues and delighted in including historical background on many subjects.
This is America! Foundation Advisory Board member Dan Austin was VOA’s director during some of Ted’s tenure at “the Voice,” as it is sometimes called.
Ted wrote the texts and captions for almost all of the coffee-table books that have featured Carol M. Highsmith’s photography, including those about U.S. cities, states, and regions for a Random House imprint, as well as others about such subjects as barns, lighthouses, engineering marvels, the Amish, “America’s Main Street” (Pennsylvania Avenue), the Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington’s Union Station and foreign embassies here in the Nation’s Capital.
Over 20 years earlier in his journalistic career, Ted served as a radio news director in three major markets: KFWB in Los Angeles, WGSO in New Orleans, and WMAL in Washington, where, along with This is America! Board member Marc Kuhn, he was honored to share in a Peabody Award for radio documentaries. Foundation Advisory Board member Elizabeth Board was also a WMAL colleague in the programming department that Kuhn later led.
In his first job out of graduate school at the University of Iowa following undergraduate study at Ohio University, Ted taught journalism at Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas. He remarks that “I soon learned that teaching is harder than it looks!” and he switched careers to the practice rather than instruction of the journalism craft. Next came a stint at the Dow-Jones nationwide newspaper The National Observer, where Ted got his first taste of extensive travel, covering education and sports.
As Ted noted in his final VOA blog, “I was raised in a Cleveland suburb by my mother, an elementary-school teacher who did not drive, I have had a lifelong love of writing (I wrote my first “book” in second grade!) and geography (ask me any state capital!) and have taken immense enjoyment from visits to U.S. states, cities, small towns, rural areas, and national parks.”
Ted’s This is America! blog on the foundation’s Web site updates readers on Carol’s and his expeditions, foundation videographer Doebele’s activities, other foundation doings, and, as he puts it, “all sorts of things that pop to mind.”