David Letterman meets with students in the David Letterman Communication and Media Building May 2 after meeting with President Mearns. The alumnus graduated from Ball State in 1969. Kaiti Sullivan, DN
David Letterman: C student, comedian and well-known alumnus
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Ball State has been the source of many famous and influential people over its century of existence, and none may be quite as well-known as David Letterman.
Letterman was the longtime host of multiple iterations of the late night comedy shows like “Late Night with David Letterman,” “The David Letterman Show” and “Late Show with David Letterman.”
Letterman was born in 1947 and graduated from Ball State’s early department of radio and television in 1969. During his time, he also hosted a short-lived comedy and DJ show that aired on a campus radio station, WBST, where Letterman played intentionally bad music and cracked jokes.
Not long after leaving Ball State, Letterman worked a variety of jobs in television and writing, including a stint as a writer on Johnny Carson’s late night talk show. Letterman parlayed a few well-received appearances on the show into a full show of his own at NBC, “Late Night with David Letterman.”
His show ran until 1993, when he moved to CBS for more late night talk shows until his retirement in 2015.
Throughout his storied career, Letterman was nominated for a multitude of entertainment awards, including dozens of Primetime Emmys, winning four total, the Peabody Award, the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012 and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2017. Memorabilia from his various late night shows, including his desk, can be found in the Letterman Archives at Ball State.
Retirement, however, was not lasting for Letterman, who debuted a Netflix original series called “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” in 2018.
Letterman often described Ball State as a major influence in his career path and has given back to the university on a regular basis, providing money, publicity and prestige to the university.
Ball State has been referenced by the legendary comic many times throughout his career, including on his Netflix series, in which he called his alma mater “the Harvard of Muncie.”
The famous comedian’s generosity was commemorated on campus in 2007 with the completion of the David Letterman Communication and Media Building, a communications complex that houses the colleges of Communication, Information and Media, Telecommunications and Communication Studies.
The opening ceremony of the new media college included appearances by Angela Ahrendts, Ted Koppel and Oprah Winfrey.
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