A longtime member of the WBIR family is being honored by Carson-Newman University.

The university's Appalachian Cultural Center named Stephen Dean as the 2017 recipient of the Outstanding Educational Service to Appalachia Award. It will be presented Tuesday night.

Dean created WBIR's "Straight from the Heart" brand and the award-winning "The Heartland Series" in his decades at WBIR, where he started work in 1974 after graduating from UT.

"The Heartland Series" began in 1984 to help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. He was the executive producer of many of the show's 2,000 episodes and 150 specials over the years.

“Stephen Dean is one of the most influential and prolific storytellers in our region of the country,” said Dr. Jennifer Hall, director of the Appalachian Cultural Center. “As a documentary filmmaker and television producer, Mr. Dean understands the art of storytelling and the impact it can have on the viewer. His vision has promoted pride in and respect for the Appalachian culture.”

Since leaving WBIR, Dean has continued to produce documentary films focusd on the East Tennessee region, and most recently returned to work with the station on "For the Greater Good," a documentary following the establishment of TVA on its 80th anniversary.

Dean currently serves as the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Museum of Appalachia. He also serves on the board of the East Tennessee Civil War Alliance and the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable.

Dean and his wife Nancy have three children and three grandchildren. They live in Concord, Tennessee.

Carson-Newman’s Award for Outstanding Educational Service to Appalachia has recognized outstanding individuals for their contributions to the region for 29 years. Past honorees have included Dr. Ernest Lee, Rev. Lawrence and Martha Baldridge, Jim Claborn, John Rice Irwin, Bill Landry, Jeff Daniel Marion, Lee Smith, James Still and Wilma Dykeman Stokely.

The ceremony is set for 6 p.m. on March 14 in the Small Dining Room at Stokely Memorial Cafeteria on the Carson-Newman campus. It is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.