Local News Stars Shine in Inaugural B+C Awards

Welcome to the first annual B+C Awards. We created this program to enable TV programmers, including local stations and groups, to submit examples of their great work during this difficult time for recognition in the pages of Broadcasting+Cable and to be shared with their peers. We received dozens of entries in a wide range of categories, further delineated by major markets (generally the top 25 DMAs) and small to midsize markets. While we were impressed with the quality and quantity of entries we received and judged, this is just the first iteration of what we hope will grow bigger and better in 2021 and in years to follow. We hope you will enjoy this sampling of fine work being produced by stations and other programmers across the country and that you will visit the B+C Awards site (broadcastingcableawards.com) to learn more about this awards program and to enter for next year.  

Profiles in this special section were written by Jerry Barmash.

Anchor (Major Market): Lesli Foster, WUSA Washington

WUSA Washington anchor Lesli Foster

(Image credit: WUSA)

Lesli Foster is one of the few women of color to anchor solo on a major-market evening newscast, and is the only one doing that in D.C.

Those facts are not lost amidst the racial divide facing the country.

This is just another in the many honors for the WUSA Washington anchor, who has been celebrated throughout her tenure in the market. But even more important, Foster worked hard to earn the trust of people watching her nightly newscasts. In 2021, Foster will mark two decades at WUSA.

Our judges said Foster is a relatable anchor who offers a reassuring delivery to her viewers. 

While known for her entrancing warmth through the camera, she isn’t afraid to use candor as needed. She brings compassion to every story for families. 

Throughout the pandemic, Foster has been a calming presence for worried
and weary viewers. She has worked to make a difference for residents in
DMA No. 7.

Anchor (Small to Midsized Market): Kate Welshofer, WGRZ Buffalo

WGRZ Buffalo anchor Kate Welshofer

(Image credit: WGRZ)

Viewers in Buffalo know the talents of Kate Welshofer. The WGRZ anchor brings great writing, energy and empathy to the daily Most Buffalo 4 p.m. newscast.

In the COVID-19 era, Welshofer has used Most Buffalo as a broadcast for people to find the latest on the fluid health crisis, while using a makeshift studio from her home.

As part of her winning submission, Welshofer showed how she handled the coronavirus while maintaining an upbeat personality. Her versatility shone in these difficult months, with an ability to report the more serious aspect of the virus. She uses those skills to inform and uplift.

Judges said Welshofer takes on light and serious subjects with the same aplomb, showing an ability to connect with Most Buffalo viewers.

The anchor and her team created the broadcast a year ago as a breath of fresh air for newscasts. She also effectively takes to social media, interacting with fans each afternoon as part of the show’s content.

Breaking News Coverage (Major Market): “George Floyd Protests,” KARE Minneapolis

KARE Minneapolis's breaking news coverage of the George Floyd protests

(Image credit: KARE)

The images were powerful. KARE Minneapolis brought viewers into the nightly protests and violence in the days after George Floyd’s killing. KARE 11 was there to guide viewers through one of the most important stories of the year — and one in its backyard.

Our judges said the KARE 11 news team did a standout job covering a huge national story. It added depth with Minnesota Public Radio resources for reporting and analysis. Perhaps the most dramatic part of the KARE coverage was the live video of fires blazing in the city.

 As unrest reached a fourth night in Minneapolis, KARE 11 went wall-to-wall for breaking news with multiple reporters and photographers taking viewers to the protests, riots, vandalism and fires.  

The anchor team of Julie Nelson and Randy Shaver led the coverage and showed the same raw emotions by calling out leaders to end their silence.

The winning submission also let citizens participate by providing photos and videos of their community in crisis.

Digital Multiplatform or Website (Small to Midsized Market): KLTV Tyler (Texas)

KLTV Tyler, Texas

(Image credit: KLTV)

Our judges were impressed with the volume and liveliness of coverage for a market outside of the biggest population centers. KLTV Tyler’s “East Texas Now” has a livestream available 18 hours a day in DMA No. 114, originating from the newsroom. Viewers can count on comprehensive content supplementing breaking news or any other newsworthy coverage.

East Texas Now brings immediacy to whatever stories it is showcasing, with reporters in the field and incorporating interviews from eastern Texas and beyond. 

The stream is archived on the website. KLTV also provides content on multiple apps, including the new East Texas Now app, complete with a live chat feature to add even more interactivity for its subscribers.

The livestream is up and running Monday to Friday from 4:30 a.m. to 10:35 p.m., with two hosts who also produce and work the multiple cameras for the best online experience. 

Digital Multiplatform or Website (Major Market): Localish, ABC Owned Television Stations

Localish, ABC Owned Television Stations

(Image credit: ABC Owned Television Stations)

For its unique way of telling today’s most pressing stories, Localish is recognized. Our judges said the programming uses locally sourced reports from the stable of ABC Owned Television Stations and effectively taps a larger audience for the bigger stories.

The winning submission explored the George Floyd protests with the Localish segment “More in Common” that focuses on national themes. In this case, it’s the civil unrest plaguing the country.

More in Common also brings together Americans from different backgrounds for their perspectives. It premiered on the network’s digital platforms and Facebook Watch, before expanding to a 30-minute weekly broadcast.  

The ABC-owned stations say Localish “is all about bringing out the good in America’s cities. Our locally-sourced stories transcend city limits so you can live like a local wherever you go.” Since its launch, Localish has produced more than 1,000 pieces of video, with 60% of viewership under the age of 44. 

That success was the springboard for creating a 24/7 multicast network in February in eight top markets, with Localish taking the place of the Live Well Network. The new format allowed Localish to switch from short-form to long-form storytelling in 14 million households.

Investigative Reporting, Station Group (Major Market): “Without Warning,” ABC Owned Television Stations

ABC Owned Television Stations' special report "Without Warning"

(Image credit: ABC Owned Television Stations)

As part of a commitment to informing and empowering, ABC’s owned television stations shined the light on a serious problem in housing complexes. Their investigation, Without Warning, examined the fire safety issues at thousands of the low-income buildings. The work of multiple stations, including WPVI Philadelphia, showed faulty fire alarms that could kill residents.

Judges said it was a fast-moving production that explained the seriousness without overly dramatizing for impact.  We also took note of a man who we saw going “Spiderman” down the fire escape of a building to save his mother.

The ABC stations’ data journalism department identified solutions and took officials to task, all the while providing transparency for viewers in those impacted communities.

Investigative Reporting (Major Market): “Tear Gas Investigation,” WUSA Washington

WUSA Washington's investigative report on tear gas

(Image credit: WUSA)

It was the days after the George Floyd protest in Washington. Viewers saw law enforcement dramatically push protestors back using tear gas and Stinger Ball grenades that shoot rubber pellets.

WUSA delved into what happened that night, as law enforcement cleared the location for President Donald Trump to appear at nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Multiple agencies denied using tear gas on the protesters, but WUSA had a different perspective from being on the ground. The station’s investigative reporting led to changing laws and holding people accountable, and appeared to catch the White House in a lie.

Our judges noted WUSA uncovered a key aspect of a huge national story and produced important pieces of physical evidence. We marveled at the up-close photography, gaining a new understanding into what the experience was like, and took special appreciation of investigative reporter Nathan Baca, who grabbed empty tear gas canisters and flash-bang grenades. It added visual layers to the story.

Judges also compared this to a print news story for its ability to be meticulous and multi-layered in the reporting.

Investigative Reporting, Series (Major Market): “Unwarranted,” WBBM Chicago

WBBM Chicago's special report "Unwarranted"

(Image credit: WBBM)

In a powerful piece of broadcast journalism, WBBM invested a year to explore a disturbing trend of the Chicago Police Department raiding the wrong homes and, in the process, violating families’ Fourth Amendment rights.

Using its extensive amount of footage, WBBM was able to produce 25 separate reports and a 30-minute documentary on the volatile issue. Our judges praised the fact that many children were interviewed, really bringing the story to life. We felt the series was in a class by itself.  

Because of “Unwarranted,” state law was passed requiring de-escalation for police when children are involved. Additionally, the high visibility of Unwarranted led to the city’s Inspector General launching an audit into how police obtain and execute search warrants.

The series was already recognized with a Peabody Award, becoming the only commercial broadcast station to receive that prize this year.

Late News (Major Market): WUSA Washington

WUSA Washington anchor Lesli Foster

(Image credit: WUSA)

Anchor Lesli Foster is part of a second B+C award for her WUSA team’s late news. The submission is from March 5 as the COVID-19 crisis was just starting to grip D.C. and the surrounding areas. We have hindsight today, but Foster and the reporters didn’t know how badly the coronavirus would affect viewers.

While knowledge was raw in those early weeks, judges say WUSA talent showed a deep understanding of the severity lying ahead. As the first cases were just revealed in the region before any mandated shutdowns, WUSA went into precaution mode, alerting viewers.

Foster was an important voice to lead the audience through the confusion. She provided reassuring professionalism to help ease anxiety during uncertain times.  Part of that calming presence was using the fact-checking initiative VERIFY to separate the clutter of misinformation from the facts.

Long-Form Feature Reporting, Commercial Station: “Suicide on the Farm,” Gray Television

Gray Television's long-form report "Suicide on the Farm"

(Image credit: Gray Television)

Millions suffer from mental illness. But for Suicide Prevention Month, Gray Television gave a rarely-seen perspective. Washington bureau chief Jacqueline Policastro took viewers to Iowa to look at how farmers and their families cope with the stigma of mental illness.

Our judges were impressed by Gray’s continuing investment in its Washington bureau and how it pays dividends with quality coverage of important local issues in a market like Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We also noted that Policastro’s reporting is leading to change, with help for farmers in desperate need in the form of funding for services from the federal government.

Policastro interviewed a psychologist/farmer for her extended report that included a return to Washington for getting the secretary of agriculture on the record about the growing problem.

Best Long-Form Feature Reporting, Public TV Station: Addicts Among Us, KEET Eureka (Calif.)

KEET's long-form report "Addicts Among Us"

(Image credit: KEET)

PBS station KEET in Eureka, California, is the 197th ranked market in the country. Its quality news reporting suggests a much larger market.

Addicts Among Us is a prime example of that stellar commitment to the community with an hour-long documentary examining the connection between childhood trauma in Humboldt County and a soaring addiction rate in the region.

Our judges were impressed by the degree of detail taken in the documentary. The interview subjects were willing to delve into their demons without being seen in the shadows. Photography was used in a professional way to add another layer to the story.

Viewers were hooked into this underbelly world within the first minute, and before the title is shown, as a former addict describes his first experiences as a youngster with frightening detail.

Best News Coverage (Small to Midsized Market): Full Court Press Now: The COVID Crisis, Gray Television

Gray Television's "Full Court Press Now: The COVID Crisis"

(Image credit: Gray Television)

Gray Television’s Full Court Press Now: The COVID Crisis outlined all the fast-moving developments as the nation was overwhelmed by its first pandemic in a century.

Judges commended host Greta Van Susteren for interviewing Vice President Mike Pence as part of the one-hour special. She pressed him for the need to put a federal mask mandate in place. Van Susteren also was hard hitting with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Robert Redfield.

The July program addressed the potential dangers with opening schools in the fall and the impact shutdowns are having for businesses on Main Street.

She changed course to question NFL great Brett Favre on how athletes would compete amid the coronavirus.

Best News Coverage (Major Market): ABC Owned Television Stations

ABC Owned Television Stations' news coverage

(Image credit: ABC Owned Television Stations)

As New York faced the epicenter of the coronavirus, ABC’s flagship WABC New York was there with exclusive video inside hospitals and outside where bodies were stacked.

Eyewitness to a Pandemic is a docuseries that charted the city’s pandemic burden. Reporter Jim Dolan explained how New Yorkers are coping with the coronavirus and how they work toward an uncertain future.

Judges were impressed with the way WABC handled the many aspects of COVID-19 impacting New Yorkers. We liked how the first episode had an easy-to-follow timetable of the virus’ arrival in the state.

That first episode, called “An Invisible Menace,” started with crowds assembling in Times Square to celebrate 2020, unaware what the new year had in store for them.

Other episodes put the focus on the shutdown and the recovery and restart in the weeks that followed.

Best Podcast: “Selena: A Star Dies in Texas,” KIII Corpus Christi and Tegna’s VAULT Studios

KIII Corpus Christi and Tegna’s VAULT Studios podcast "Selena: A Star Dies in Texas"

Superstar Selena is placed in the spotlight for this riveting six-part podcast. Her early life, skyrocketing fame and stunning murder are all elements of Tegna’s well-produced series commemorating the 25th anniversary of her killing.

Judges applauded the use of first-time or rarely heard archival audio, including an exclusive jailhouse interview with Selena’s former friend and business partner who fired the fateful shot.  We could clearly hear that this was a labor of love for everyone who helped put these episodes together.

Not only does Selena: A Star Dies in Texas follow the timeline to her tragic death, it shows how millions of fans were shattered. The podcast also effectively explores the enduring legacy of this musical giant from Texas.

The fast-paced, tightly-edited podcast was a joint effort between Tegna’s ABC affiliate KIII Corpus Christi and Tegna’s VAULT studios.

Public Affairs Programming (Major Market): Here and Now, WABC New York

WABC New York's public affairs program "Here and Now"

(Image credit: WABC)

WABC New York was at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter cultural revolution with Here and Now. The public affairs program, focused on the lives of African Americans, is directly linked to Like It Is, the station’s predecessor program aired from 1968 until host Gil Noble’s death in 2012.

With Sandra Bookman leading the Sunday show, Here and Now remains deeply committed to the Black experience, and addresses the inequities, such as police brutality and gun violence among people of color.

“The Race to Justice” was a special edition of Here and Now that explained the protests that followed George Floyd’s death. Other timely segments for Bookman included interviews with Rodney Harrison, the New York City Police Department’s first African-American chief of detectives, and Misty Copeland, the first Black principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theater.

Public Affairs Programming (Small to Midsized Market): Pennsylvania Cable Network

Pennsylvania Cable Network

The COVID-19 pandemic caused outlets across the country to reconsider how they handle their broadcasts. Pennsylvania Cable Network used the “new normal” to produce Coronavirus Impact, a fully remote program. 

Our judges credited PCN for the variety of its programming and its commitment to local events and issues. The winning submission highlighted the network’s ability to educate and inform while shuttering in place.

Host Francine Schertzer gained insight for viewers from various interviews, including one with Pennsylvania State Rep. Frank Ryan. The conversations were meant to engage throughout the crisis. 

PCN has been committed to its nonpartisan role in public affairs, one reason we are delighted to present them with this award. 

Sports Program (Major Market): “Living Room Sports,” KDKA Pittsburgh

KDKA's "Living Room Sports"

(Image credit: KDKA)

Americans found themselves forced to sequester at the height of coronavirus. That also meant TV hosts would likely have to work from home as well.

Living Room Sports was born out of the COVID-19 crisis and filling an immediate need for Pittsburgh fans missing their beloved sports.

KDKA created the weekly Friday-night show when the pro and college sports schedules were shuttered. Judges liked that Living Room Sports wasn’t just the hosts from their living rooms. Part of the show’s charm was connecting with high-profile Pittsburgh sports stars, including Steelers great Terry Bradshaw, interviewed from his home.

The combination of big-name personalities and charisma made Living Room Sports a fun escape from the uncertainty outside their doors and a B+C award winner. 

Weather Coverage (Small to Midsized Market): WLBT Jackson (Miss.)

WLBT Jackson, Mississippi's weather coverage

(Image credit: WLBT)

WLBT, already stretching its resources thin from the coronavirus, was pressed into severe weather coverage. In a span of two weeks in April, the Gray Television-owned Jackson, Mississippi, station fired up the First Alert Weather team.

Our judges praised the WLBT team for providing outstanding reports of the damaging storms to hit the surrounding communities. They also began alerting viewers for several days in anticipation of the threatening weather. The station, led by its four meteorologists, went into “wall-to-wall” mode once the severe weather was imminent. Coverage was enhanced by crews on the scene for live reports at the worst of it.

Ultimately, three deadly storms devastated the area, with one system killing 14 people.

When the clouds finally parted, WLBT would join forces with other Gray TV stations in Mississippi to raise funds for victims.

Sports Coverage (Major Market): “The Musial Awards,” KSDK St. Louis

KSDK St. Louis' "The Musical Awards"

(Image credit: KSDK)

It is an annual event putting sportsmanship in the spotlight. Named for the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial, KSDK produces the hour-long special.

Our judges took notice that the station went to California and Boston to select winners for this year’s presentation, in the process moving the show beyond its home market.

One of the honorees involved the bittersweet story of a high school athletic director and vice president whose gymnasium was ruined by nearby wildfires. The Paradise High School girls volleyball team was also singled out for their decision to play despite the destruction surrounding them. We also got to see families from the opponent’s school come together for donations.  

We are pleased to recognize KSDK with Best Sports Coverage in a major market for giving attention to those with altruism in their hearts