Lee Zurik, WVUE New Orleans
Few reporters have made as big of an impact in the community where they were born and raised as WVUE New Orleans anchor and chief investigative reporter Lee Zurik.
Crescent City native Zurik anchors the 5, 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts for the Gray Television-owned station referred to on-air as Fox 8. Station executives said his investigative reporting has led to impactful criminal investigations of high-ranking officials.
Zurik has also forged a strong connection with viewers through his close community knowledge, covering intrinsically local stories from impending hurricanes to Mardi Gras costuming.
Broadcaster of the Year: Debra OConnell, President of Networks, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution
Station Group of the Year: ABC Owned Television Stations
GM of the Year, Markets 1-25: Tony Canales, KTMD Houston/KASA Albuquerque
GM of the Year Markets 26-50: Kathleen Choal, KSHB Kansas City
GM of the Year Markets 51-Plus: Rocky Daboval, WBRZ Baton Rouge
News Director: Dana McDaniel, KFMB San Diego
Multiplatform Broadcaster: Hearst Television
Unsung Hero: Julie Griffin, KTRK Houston
“It’s that kind of work that makes local journalism so important,” WVUE VP and general manager Mikel Schaefer said.
Zurik is arguably the most decorated anchor and investigative journalist in New Orleans TV history, earning him multiple Edward R. Murrow Awards and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards over a career of more than 25 years.
If that wasn’t enough, he also serves as VP of investigations for WVUE parent Gray. The unit, which focuses on investigations of national scale, develops stories for Gray stations in 113 markets.
Zurik’s stellar career accomplishments come as no surprise to Schaefer, who — while working as a sports producer at WWL in the 1990s — first met Zurik as a 15-year-old high school sophomore.
“He came to our sports department just about every weekend in his sophomore, junior and senior year in high school,” Schaefer said. “By the time he went to college at Syracuse, he could produce [video news packages] and he was a good writer. He’s had journalism in him for a long time and I couldn’t be more proud of him personally and professionally.” — RTU
Jeff Berardelli, WFLA Tampa
In reliving the 30th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, WFLA Tampa chief meteorologist Jeff Berardelli produced Surviving the Storm, only to be reminded about Mother Nature’s fury as Hurricane Ian approached Tampa this year.
Berardelli is there to caution viewers about the worst of weather. “The most important thing that I do is to educate the public about hurricanes beforehand, so that when a hurricane does hit, they’re prepared,” he said.
When it’s calm and sunny, Berardelli can get looser with the delivery. It’s those more serious situations when Berardelli, who was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Staten Island, earns his keep. “I have to make sure that I’m very measured in the way that I communicate,” he said. “I don’t want people to panic.”
When conditions warrant evacuation, though, Berardelli must do whatever he can for residents in harm’s way to “keep them safe,” he said.
Berardelli, who knew he’d be a meteorologist from the time he was a child, started professionally in 1996. He arrived at Nexstar Media Group-owned WFLA 10 months ago — his second stint in Tampa. WFLA is committed to tracking severe weather using the most advanced technology.
But it’s his role as climate specialist, which he first did for CBS News, that is most gratifying.
“That’s the one thing that I’m doing differently than many other meteorologists, if not most meteorologists, in the country,” he said. “On a weekly, if not more than once-a-week basis, [I’m] educating people on climate change.”
The WFLA website has a Climate Classroom page (opens in new tab), with videos and articles from Berardelli educating users on climate change. He speaks regularly to students, sharing vital weather information with young consumers. “I really do like that aspect of my job,” he said. — JB
Bob Pompeani, KDKA Pittsburgh
Think of Pittsburgh sports icons and Willie Stargell, Terry Bradshaw and Mario Lemieux come to mind. Yet if you ask local sports fans, KDKA sports director and anchor Bob Pompeani (opens in new tab) should be in the same conversation.
A Pittsburgh native, Pompeani has been a fixture in the city for 40 years, not only as sports reporter but also as weekend sports anchor, before becoming sports director at the CBS-owned station. He joined KDKA at 22 (opens in new tab) and endeared himself with viewers by developing and hosting segments like “The Nightly Sports Call,” “The Sports Showdown” and high school-focused “Extra Effort,” spotlighting students who excel in athletics, academics and community service.
“He embodies what Pittsburgh is, what KDKA is and what sports is in the city,” KDKA VP and general manager Chris Cotugno said.
Throughout his four-decade tenure, “Pomp” has covered three Steelers Super Bowls and six Penguins Stanley Cup Finals, among other memorable stories and events.
“Anytime there have been championships and parades, the teams have called Pomp to emcee it,” Cotugno said. “They understand that he’s part of the community.”
Pompeani has won three Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards and eight AP Awards. More closely reflecting his character and commitment to the community, he’s also been named by viewers as the city’s favorite sportscaster and is a member of the Pennsylvania, Beaver County and Hopewell (High School) Viking Sports halls of fame.
“He is Pittsburgh — he’s not here to make a name for himself and then disappear; he’s part of the community,” Cotugno said. “The athletes understand that, the community understands that. That’s why he’s been here for 40 years and that’s why people trust him.” — RTU
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below.
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
Thank you for signing up to Broadcasting & Cable. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.