Maintaining a constant commitment to community amid all the competing priorities involved in running a TV station is a good trick. That’s why WXYZ Detroit, the Scripps-owned ABC affiliate just received the National Association of Broadcasters’ Service to America Television Award.
Among its projects: “Project Healthy Living,” a month-long traveling health clinic that, in its 25th year provided free and low-cost screenings at 100 sites to 600,000 people; “Project Healthy Living for Kids,” which gave 1,000 immunizations to 624 kids in 2005 and has reached 50,000 since 1977; and “Operation Can-Do,” which collected 7 million pounds of food since 1978.
The station is particularly proud of its “Best and Brightest” campaign. Three hundred top high school seniors (and their parents) are treated to a day of activities, highlighted by the filming of a series of PSAs featuring the teens in full cap-and-gown regalia. “You see so many negative stories about young people so we want to point to the kids that are doing the right thing and acknowledge their achievements,” says WXYZ VP/General Manager Grace Gilchrist.
“We really do roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty,” she says. “But we see the result in the amount of people we touch. We really do save lives. At the screenings, you see people with diabetes whose sugar levels are through the roof or people with high blood pressure who didn’t know it or people who would not otherwise get a mammogram.”.
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below.
Stuart Miller has been writing about television for 30 years since he first joined Variety as a staff writer. He has written about television for The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, Vulture and numerous other publications.