Many Oklahomans may not remember the name Brian Jay Walke at first mention, but the state is better off because of him.
Walke, a Norman resident, died July 5 after a fierce battle with cancer. A journalist at heart and by trade, Walke is a legend in the world of radio news. He won numerous awards for his reporting as well as successfully directing some of the best radio news operations in the Oklahoma City area. While at KTOK-AM, Walke directed the investigative series, "Secrets of Justice," which won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award.
But his lasting legacy for the state was his work to help bring sunshine into government for citizens. Walke is one of the founding fathers of the Oklahoma Open Records Act and Open Meetings Act. Walke, along with a small group of dedicated journalists, advocates, lawyers and lawmakers, crafted a piece of legislation to open up government to the people.
For more than two decades, Oklahomans now have the right to demand their elected officials, state agencies, city halls and school districts come out of the dark and reveal how taxpayers' money is being spent. The public is now guaranteed a seat when government entities meet to determine how those dollars are used and policies are made.
Walke was also a founding member of Freedom of Information Oklahoma.
Oklahoma's open record laws are considered some of the best in country, and it is due to journalists like Walke who made it happen.
A graduate of the University of Oklahoma and Del City High School, Walke is survived by his wife, Melody, son, Devon, and daughter, Maliah. The family asks donations be made to the Brian J. Walke Scholarship for Ethics in Journalism.