NAB Announces Service to America Award Winners

The National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF)has announced winners of the 2018 Celebration of Service to America Awards, recognizing outstanding community service by local broadcasters. Winners will be honored at the Celebration of Service to America dinner on June 12 at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC. “Local broadcasters play a crucial role in informing, supporting and strengthening communities across our country,” said NABEF President Marcellus Alexander. “This year’s winners represent the ethos of broadcasting and the industry’s unwavering commitment to public service. We look forward to honoring these outstanding stations in the nation’s capital.” Now in its 20th year, the award program has established new categories based on market size. Farm Director Rob Winters (WOWO, Ft. Wayne, IN) reports that his station will receive the Service to Community Award for Radio – Medium Market
for WOWO’s annual Penny Pitch campaign, which has been providing grants to individuals and not-for-profit organizations serving Northeast Indiana since 1948. The initiative aims to help those who are either disadvantaged or physically handicapped by supporting charities that have a similar mission. In 2017, the campaign raised more than $200,000 for The Shepherd’s House, which provides temporary housing for homeless military veterans living with addictions. The Shepherd’s House recently had its federal funding reduced, but the station generated enough money to keep the facility open for nearly six more months. Rob said the Penny Pitch event is held annually around the holidays.  “We have had additional donations come in after the event, so we’re somewhere close to $240,000 at this point.  It’s a full staff effort over a two-month period where we pump gas on cold fall evenings and the gas station owner donates 10 cents of every gallon sold. Listeners who drop in are very generous and donate several hundred dollars at those events. Our relationship with the local hockey team affords us a couple of Penny Pitch nights at home games where the whole staff stands at the entrances with Penny Pitch buckets to accept donations.”  Rob emphasized, “The big connection to farm broadcasting on WOWO is that Penny Pitch was the original invention of former world famous WOWO Farm Director Jay Gould. Back in the late ‘40s, he was touched by a local story about a boy who needed a special typewriter because of a physical infirmity.  Jay figured if the community would simply drive by one of our busiest downtown street corners and pitch their pennies in the barrel, we could raise enough to provide the typewriter.  It worked way beyond anyone’s imagination and now these many years later we have a Penny Pitch board that takes submissions each year and chooses one as the annual recipient of Penny Pitch.”