Actress Sharon Stone silenced a traditionally whispering, glass-clinking broadcaster crowd Tuesday with a speech that attendees agreed made them proud to be broadcasters.
Stone was the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation Leadership Award winner for her work fighting Aids, the capstone on an evening dedicated to saluting public service, primarily TV and radio--the NABEF Service to America awards gala in Washington/
Stone thanked her broadcaster audience for believing in her, for never giving up on her, and for helping keep her "famous enough" when her career was flagging to continue her work combating AIDS. "You believed in me," she said, "and in the choices I made."
One of those choices was to become the fund-raising chairman for The Foundation for AIDS Research. She also founded Planet hope with her sister, Kelly, to help homeless children and their families.
She talked about a little girl, 12, with AIDS whose Make A Wish wish had been to have Stone help her prepare for the school dance. Stone said she showed up with curlers and makeup to find a "waif" who clearly was not going anywhere. Instead, Stone realized she would spend her time talking about what might have happened at a dance she would never be going to.
Stone talked about the 40 million AIDS deaths that made her feel like a failure even as she accepted awards for her work.
She also talked about the many political "regime changes" over the years, and said we cannot as a nation call for border closings and still consider ourselves leaders of a free nation. clearly a reference to GOP candidate Donald Trump's call for immigration bans.
She seemed genuinely appreciative of the media's role in her continued prominence and how that translated into being able to help. "Like is a service job," she said.
An informal poll of attendees' review of her acceptance speech drew similar responses, with "terrific" about summing it up.
There were plenty of reasons for broadcasters to feel good about their service to the public.
The Service to Children radio award went to CBS Radio's sports station WXYT-FM Southfield, Mich., for its Student Heart Check program for student athletes. CBS Radio's Debbie Kenyon said the program had been credited with saving 8 children and that their next goal was to get schools to make heart checkups mandatory for students before they take up a sport.
The Service to Children TV Award went to Alabama Public Television for a three-year civil rights education project, including the 2015 50th anniversary of the Selma Bridge crossing.
Roy Clem, executive director of APT, said he was proud to be a broadcaster and thanked Wells Fargo for underwriting the project.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai handed out the Service to Community Radio Award to Cox Radio Group, Miami, for its ongoing commitment to food drives, including the annual Turkey Drive to put Thanksgiving dinner on the tables of families that would otherwise go without. Pai called the broadcaster a pillar of the community and Cox's Rob Rabin said all of Cox's employees are dedicated to serving their communities.
The Service to Community Award for TV went to Gray TV's KOLO TV Reno for promoting local nonprofits. Matt Eldredge, VP and GM of KOLO-TV, said that local broadcasting was an essential part of the community, but the station concluded that it was not doing enough. He said it was not enough to just report on the great things happening in their community, "you have to be part of the process. "Service to the community is not what we do," he said, "it's who we are."
KWTX-TV Waco received the Service to America Television award for various programs and fund-raising efforts, including helping renovate a Boys and Girls Club and a "we Can't Forget Vietnam" documentary honoring those who serve in the armed forces.
The Arizona Broadcasters Association (ABA) got a President's Special Award for its documentary "Hooked: Tracking Heroin's Hold on Arizona," which it produced in association with the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State.
The documentary aired on all of Arizona's 34 TV stations and 93 radio stations in January 2015..
ABA CEO Art Brooks said that the effort was not about winning awards, but saving lives of those addicted to heroin and opioids. He said that Every TV station and most radio stations had already committed to a similar roadblocked airing of a follow-up documentary on prescription drug addiction slated for January 10, 2017.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.