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By George, NYSBA Conference is a Good Show

Steve Baboulis, WNYT Albany GM, gives an award to Rachael Ray

Just got back from the 50th New York State Broadcasters Association executive conference, on Lake George, and it’s a real good event. It’s held at the gorgeous Sagamore Resort Hotel in Bolton Landing–a classic old inn on Lake George. Besides the local TV and radio award winners, Nightline co-anchor Bill Weir was named Broadcaster of the Year, and gave a fun talk about getting his start in tiny Austin, Minnesota.

Said WABC New York GM Dave Davis as he introduced Weir: “Anyone who comes from market No. 175 is one of us.”

Weir spoke very fondly of his time in local–very local–TV: of reporting on mall openings and calf births, and news out of the Spam facility in Austin. Besides reporting from war zones these days, Weir said covering the likes of the Niagara Falls tightrope walk last week are “national hearth moments.”

“It made me proud to be a broadcaster, in every sense of the word,” said Weir.

Peggy Green, former vice chair at Zenith Media, offered a heartfelt speech upon receiving the Carol  M. Reilly Award while, on behalf of the NY Giants, big Derek Brown stepped to the podium for the Sports Story of the Year Award, for the Giants’ memorable Super Bowl run.

Some in the audience were disappointed that the Giants did not send a current player, or at least a more prominent alumnus. Brown had a short and indistinguished career with the Giants a few decades ago.

But full credit to David Donovan, president of the NYSBA and a Massachusetts-raised guy who showed considerable grace in toasting the team that defeated the Patriots in the big game…again.

Rachael Ray gladly claimed the New Yorker of the Year award from Steve Baboulis, general manager at WNYT Albany. (Ray got her start in TV at WRGB Albany.)

Ray said she also worked at the very same hotel where we all were gathered, managing the inn’s pub.

“I should be clearing your dishes and refilling your drinks,” she said. “Only in this country could literally anybody be a Rachael Ray.”

The next morning, I was on the panel “Broadcasters’ Future: A Reporter’s Perspective,” along with Harry Jessell of TVNewsCheck and Frank Saxe of Inside Radio, and moderated by Dennis Wharton of the NAB.

Despite the early hour, the turnout was good, and audience participation fairly lively. Some questioned the place of social media in broadcasting, which sparked a hearty debate.

All in all, a great show–and the kiddies loved the mini golf in Lake George Village on the ride back.