The Sixth Annual GIANTS OF BROADCASTING Awards Ceremony and Luncheon will take place in New York’s Grand Hyatt Hotel on SEPTEMBER 25, 2008, sponsored by the national Library of American Broadcasting, which has among its life missions defining and honoring those individuals who played pivotal roles in creating and advancing the electronic arts. CHARLES OSGOOD of CBS Sunday Morning and CBS Radio will be the Master of Ceremonies for the fifth year.
ROBERT C. WRIGHT served longer as head of NBC than any executive since the founding David Sarnoff. He became president in 1986 after the network’s acquisition by General Electric and turned it, if not upside down, at least sideways. He moved the senior of broadcasting’s Big Three out of radio and , unabashedly, into cable, a medium he had learned to respect as president of Cox Cable Communications. Two years later he joined NBC and Cablevision Systems in a deal that led to the start of a 24-hour cable network, CNBC. Then, with Bill Gates and Microsoft, he created MSNBC. Library of American Broadcasting’s resident scholar Douglas Gomery said of Wright: “He is credited with transforming NBC and maneuvering it through a key intersection of the technological, economic, political, social and cultural forces that helped shape U.S. television at the end of the 20th century.” Wright’s consuming outside interest is Autism Speaks, an organization he founded with his wife, Suzanne, that is dedicated to elevating concern and relief for that increasingly prevalent malady.
WILLIAM SHATNER has seemingly done it all in television, from a role in the Canadian version of Howdy Doody to his breakout hit in Star Trek to his present Emmy-winning performance as Denny Crane in ABC Television’s Boston Legal. It was Star Trek, of course, that made him a television legend, but it is his present eminence in the David Kelley series that has sealed his reputation as an actor. The years between carried as many downs as ups for Shatner, but he has filled out his resume hand somely, with parts in over 50 films (many of them Star Trek adaptations) and appearances in more than 80 television efforts ““ and , of course, Price Line commercials. The Montreal-born actor was trained in the Shakespearean school, which may be credited for his versatility.
JERRY LEE turned one single radio station into a phenomenon that is an object lesson for broadcasters everywhere. He’s been called a “lifetime optimist and longtime Philadelphian,” and both are demonstrably true. First a broadcaster, he is after that interested in everything else ““ or, as one biography puts it, “the promotion of social science research into the causes of such social problems as poverty and crime.” Among the conspicuous outgrowths of that interest is the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology (located at the University of Pennsylvania), whose mission is “to produce major discoveries about the causes and prevention of crime, showing how to make a safer and more democratic world.” Lee’s WBEB Philadelphia is an object of awe for its ability to compete as an independent FM station (soft rock/adult contemporary) in a major market, and remains one of the most successful in the country. The owner’s penchant for research can be seen in how close the programming hews to changes in audience preferences.
COKIE ROBERTS never wand ered far from the family political tree. Her father was the late Hale Boggs, Louisiana congressman and majority leader of the House of Representatives. Her mother, Lindy Boggs, was elected to succeed him after the plane in which he was flying disappeared over Alaska. Cokie Roberts majored in politics at Wellesley and continues to in broadcasting. She has successfully combined a career on the public and commercial sides of the medium, serving as a senior news analyst for National Public Radio, for which she was congressional correspondent for more than 10 years. She was co-anchor of the ABC News Sunday morning broadcast, This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, from 1996 to 2002, while also serving that network as chief congressional analyst, and continues to appear on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Her books include two bestsellers: “We Are Our Mother’s Daughters” and the current “Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation.”
JAMES H. QUELLO qualifies as broadcasting’s favorite son. He was in the business long before service in World War II made him a certified hero, and was discharged as an Army major with six land ings in the European theatre under his belt. His return to radio was equally newsworthy and he became general manager of WJR Detroit. It was then that Washington called with an appointment as commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, a seat he held for over 23 years. Quello was forced to sell his stock in Capital Cities Broadcasting to accept the post, a move estimated to have cost him multiple millions. Before and after a brief term as chairman he gained a reputation for independence and a policy of broadcast deregulation that he continues today ““ at 94 ““ through op-ed columns and the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law at Michigan State University. He is a consultant to the government relations practice of Washington law firm Wiley Rein.
BILL BAKER’s resume is far too long to have been compiled in one lifetime. Now president emeritus of New York’s Thirteen/WNET, he has become one of the public medium’s most celebrated executives since assuming command of that public television powerhouse in 1987. The Charlie Rose Show, hosted by one of 2007’s Giant honorees, is but one of the award-winning vehicles launched during his tenure. On the commercial side of the medium he was at once president of Westinghouse Television Inc. and chairman of Group W Satellite Communications, launching five cable networks in the process, including Discovery Channel and the Disney Channel. Baker’s avocations are similarly ambitious. He has visited both the North and South Poles and returned to the latter in 1988 to tape a documentary about Antarctica, which he revisited in 1992 and 1996.
LUCY JARVIS has broken far more barriers than the glass ceiling over the ambitions of women in broadcasting. She broke the political barriers in Russia while producing the Emmy-award winning The Kremlin for NBC News. (Filmed in 1963 during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy is said to have joked: “I told Khrushchev if he got the missiles out of Cuba, I would get Lucy Jarvis out of the Kremlin.”) She repeated that feat in China while producing China and The Forbidden City, and may have trumped both aces culturally when she produced a dual tour of the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in Washington, an idea she had first broached to French President Charles de Gaulle. The Louvre: A Golden Prison, shot in color, and the Kremlin documentary were said to have been credited by RCA’s Brigadier General David Sarnoff with selling four million color sets. Jarvis received six Emmys, a Peabody, a Radio-TV Critics Award and the French government’s Chevaliere de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. She left NBC to produce a series of specials with Barbara Walters at ABC and then launched her own independent production career.
JIM MCKAY by any other name (his was James Kenneth McManus) would still have been one of the greatest sportscasters the medium has ever known. He was perhaps best known for hosting ABC’s Wide World of Sports (his introduction, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” became a thing of legend) for more than 40 years, although his coverage of the Munich massacre during the 1972 Summer Olympics is similarly unforgettable. (McKay was on the air for 14 hours without a break during a 16-hour broadcast of the incident that cost the lives of 11 Israeli athletes.) He covered 12 Olympics during his career, along with a variety of special events including the Kentucky Derby, the British Open and the Indianapolis 500. McKay died of natural causes on June 7 this year. Keeping the profession in the family, his son Sean McManus is president of the CBS sports and news divisions.
ROGER M. KING was often referred to as larger than life, a description he did little to dispel. He was at his death (of a stroke on December 8, 2007) the chief executive officer of CBS Enterprises, the result of a merger with his family’s King World Productions, which grew famous largely on the distribution success of three syndicated series, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Oprah. (King World was started by his father, Charles King, and another son, Michael, was for years a major figure.) Lesser known but equally successful was the company’s record in reruns of several prime-time series, including Everybody Loves Raymond, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Survivor, The Amazing Race and America’s Top Model. King played as hard as he worked ““ both prodigiously ““ and was known for his hand s-on approach to station negotiations. Oprah Winfrey said this of him: “Roger was the best sales executive this industry has ever known. I will never forget what he did for me. And the industry will never forget his legendary presence.”
TIM RUSSERT’s sudden death on June 13 caught NBC News and the nation by surprise, revealing a depth of fondness for the record-setting (16 years) Meet the Press commentator that until then may not have been so publicly apparent. It became so overnight. Hours of television coverage were given to the news of his death and the coverage of his funeral, while statesmen and celebrities worldwide joined in the accolades. Tom Brokaw, one of the network’s news icons, came out of retirement to replace him, at least momentarily. It was all high tribute for the personable, energetic, magnetic political maven who began his career in service to a famous senator and an equally famous governor and became the formidable master of television’s dominant Sunday morning political vehicle. Russert was as well the Washington bureau chief for NBC News and a senior vice president of that division. His frequent appearances on the Today Show and election coverage made him a familiar figure to news audiences, who responded approvingly to his often homespun (via Buffalo) approach. Amazingly for a journalist, he appeared on Time magazine’s 2008 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
The Library of American Broadcasting (LAB) ““ located at the University of Maryland ““ is a 36-years-old institution serving as the national information resource for the radio and television industries and the academic communities that rely upon it for depth and expertise. Its collections of historic documents, professional papers, oral and video histories, books and photographs are the nation’s most extensive. The LAB is evolving from a conventional library into a “home page” for the world at large, no longer confined to responding to constituents one at a time but reaching thousand s simultaneously through the Internet. Its aggressive industry outreach includes lectures, symposia, print and the broadcast media themselves. The chairman is Ramsey Woodworth, veteran Washington communications attorney; the president and CEO is Donald West, former editor in chief of Broadcasting & Cable magazine and assistant to the president of CBS Inc. The acting dean of libraries at the University of Maryland is Dr. Desider L. Vikor; the curator is Chuck Howell.
Reservations for tables and individual tickets to the Giants of broadcasting event may be arranged in New York through Jessica Wolin at 212 685 4233 or by e-mail through [email protected]