Known as “the dean of arts and entertainment journalists,” Clarence Waldron is the go‐to‐guy on American pop culture. He has enjoyed a distinguished career in journalism for more than 40 years, including a 29‐year tenure as senior writer and senior staff editor of Jet Magazine.
Maya Angelou once told Waldron: “Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, ‘Easy reading is hard writing.’ Your prose, Mr. Waldron, is immediately accessible. People in the butcher shop, the barbershop, and the beauty shop, read it and get it right away. And yet it would stand up and pass an examination by a teacher of English. This is no small matter. It is like a musician who has perfect pitch. You have perfect pitch.”
Aretha Franklin said: “Clarence Waldron is one of the very best journalists who has written a story about me. I trust him.” He also served as her publicist for a two-year period.
Waldron served as book editor and literary consultant for Chicago TV and radio pioneer Merri Dee’s memoir, Life Lessons On Faith, Forgiveness & Grace. The inspirational book details how Dee’s life changed forever in 1971 when she was kidnapped and shot after taping her popular TV show.
He also is the co‐author and editor of Geoffrey & Carmen: A Memoir in Four Movements, an exhibition catalogue on the careers of Geoffrey Holder and Carmen DeLavallade.
Waldron has been an adjunct professor at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism since 1998. His courses include Reporting & Writing, Methods, Magazine Editing, Magazine Writing and Covering Popular Music, a music journalism class that he created for graduate students. He also has taught at Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University.
Waldron is the founder of CW Media, a multi‐faceted arts and entertainment company specializing in the development of celebrity book projects, media training, consulting and Web writing and editing.
His roster of CW Media clients include Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, gospel artists Donnie McClurkin, Merri Dee, Suzanne Gaither, mother of the nation’s first African‐American quintuplets, filmmaker Muta’Ali, grandson of the legendary Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, motivational speaker Dwayne Bryant, Chicago West Community Music Center, Sony/RCA Inspiration Record Label and Fifth Third Bank.
He holds a master’s degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism and a bachelor’s in English Literature from Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City.
In 2010, the National Association of Black Journalists presented him with the Legacy Award and named him the “dean of arts and entertainment journalists.” His extraordinary life story was recorded by The HistoryMakers during a three‐hour interview that is now housed at the U.S. Library of Congress.
In 2020, he was named recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Chicago Headline Club, the largest chapter in the Society of Professional Journalists.
Photos: Personal Collection of Clarence Waldron and Debra Meeks Photography.