Broadcast Pioneers honored in Las Vegas


“Get over it. These are the good old days,” said Forever Broadcasting co-owner Kerby Confer of people who whine that radio isn’t what it once was. Confer was one of those honored Wednesday at the Ward L. Quaal Pioneer Awards by the Broadcasters Foundation of America.

Confer recalled that he had many “radio dads” over the years who inspired him in his career and urged those at the annual breakfast to do the same for young broadcasters today.

“This is the 71st year that I have been broadcasting and getting support from wonderful people,” said Hal Jackson, who is still on the air at age 94. “I do believe in one thing – give back,” he said in closing his acceptance speech.

Martin Pompadur, who built numerous media companies in his long and still-continuing career, praised the Foundation for its efforts to help broadcasters who have fallen on hard times. Noting the tough economy of the past couple of years, he said “the need for giving is greater than ever.

Also honored as Pioneers were Eddie Fritts, Chairman of the Fritts Group and former President and CEO of the NAB; Wade H. Hargrove, Esq.,  Partner, Brooks Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP; and Bruce T. Reese, President and CEO, Bonneville, International.

The first ever Lowry Mays Excellence in Broadcasting Award was presented to Former Commissioner and acting Chairman of the FCC Jim Quello, who had been GM of WJR Radio Detroit prior to his long tenure at the Commission. Quello died in January at age 95.

Mays, who was present in Las Vegas, said he was one of the many who had planned to celebrate Quello’s 100th birthday. “I was just convinced he was going to make it,” Mays said.

Recorded video tributes to Quello came from Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch.

Quello’s granddaughter, Susan Butler, accepted the award, recalling how her grandfather remained deeply interested in communications regulation right to the end. “I know this award would have meant so much to my grandfather,” she told the gathering.