St. Louis American photojournalist Wiley Price’s induction into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame on Saturday, March 30 was a throwback.
It threw him back to his first, sweaty job in high school at the Edison Brothers’ warehouse. The ceremony was held in the Red Lion Hotel in downtown St. Louis, which was built out in the former warehouse.
“I spent the worst days in my life in this building,” Price said. “That was the only job I ever had that I couldn’t wait to quit.”
In contrast, Price said that photographing the black community for The St. Louis American does not even feel like work. “That is one busy place I enjoy being in,” he said of the newsroom.
His induction ceremony also was a throwback because he previously went though it representing his late father, the pioneering black DJ also named Wiley Price, when the St. Louis Media History Foundation, which bestows the award, inducted his father.
“I never thought this was an honor I would share with him,” said Price, who lost his father when he was 13.
Price’s father was instrumental to the photojournalist shooting for The St. Louis American for more than three decades. The son described how then-managing editor Bennie G. Rodgers interviewed him when Price made a cold call to The American in person because Rodgers recognized the name. “You look just like your father,” Rodgers told the youth.
Price, whose original ambition was to play jazz trombone, already had shot for the campus newspaper at the University of Missouri St. Louis and the Suburban Journals when Rodgers took him on at The American. Price was drawn to the paper because he wanted to cover the black community, which he found unrepresented or misrepresented in other local media.
Price was inducted in a field of 12 honorees that also included Bill Wilkerson, one of KMOX’s early black voices, weatherman Dave Murray, and Jo Mannies, political reporter for the Post-Dispatch and St. Louis Public Radio. Price praised them and local journalists generally but could not resist squeezing off a shot at the competition.
Price described how over the years he often has been criticized or dismissed for working in the Black Press, yet it’s where he always has wanted to be, though he is aware of other options. “Why would I want to work for someone,” he said, “that doesn’t even show my community?”