The Vermont Association of Broadcasters (VAB) says a record crowd showed up for its Hall of Fame Banquet in Burlington, VT 12/7. Burlington radio personality Louie Manno and longtime Hall Communications VP/GM Dan Dubonnet were inducted into the VAB Hall of Fame.
Manno was introduced at the banquet by longtime radio partner Jim Condon, who read a comment from U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, who recalled having to pull his car over because he was laughing so hard at a parody of Leahy called “Pat-Man,” about a Gotham City superhero who would stop at nothing to find a good photo opportunity.
Hall of Fame member Joel Najman read a congratulatory letter from U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders that included catchphrases from Manno and Condon’s “Leave it to Bernie” radio series.
Dubonnet was introduced into the Hall of Fame by his daughter, Kate Dubenetsky, a third-generation employee of Hall Communications.
Dubonnet was named General Manager of WJOY-AM and WQCR-FM in 1989 and, under his leadership, the group expanded to five stations, adding WKOL-FM, WBTZ-FM and WIZN-FM. The stations have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, notably Camp Ta-Kum-Ta and the Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care. Dubonnet also served multiple terms as VAB President.
Jeff Shapiro, owner of Great Eastern Radio, was given the VAB Broadcaster of the Year award. Late last year, he purchased five Vermont radio stations from Nassau Broadcasting in a bankruptcy proceeding. He has helped those stations prosper, and has been a strong proponent of local broadcasting and community involvement.
Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Ross Sneyd of Plainfield and Brian Collamore of Rutland. Sneyd was a panelist on VPT’s “Vermont This Week” for more than 20 years and was a news reporter and news director for VPR for six years before leaving broadcast journalism to join National Life in Montpelier earlier this year.
Collamore has been in the Rutland radio market for more than 40 years, starting as a disc jockey at WHWB AM and FM. He joined WSYB-AM in 1974 and has been on the air since, at WSYB, WZRT-FM and WDVT-FM, all part of the Catamount Radio Group. He has co-hosted the daily “Proctor Gas Morning Show” since 1995. His sales career started in 1978 and he was named Catamount’s GSM in 2006. .
Jenny Day, news reporter at FOX44/ABC22, was presented with the Alan Noyes Community Service Award. In 2012 Day took to the airwaves with a number of stories about cancer, including one about her own screening. Although cancer claimed both of her parents’ lives, she was shocked when test results revealed she had melanoma. She brought cameras into her doctor’s office to report on her own surgery. Her story triggered a station-wide campaign with the American Cancer Society to raise awareness about cancer prevention and early detection.
Judy Anderson of WJEN-FM in Rutland also won a Community Service Award. Judy, who lost her husband to cancer in 2011, was Co-Chair for publicity for the annual Relay for Life of Rutland County. This year’s event raised a record $200,000, putting it into the top ten such events in New England.
The VAB’s third Community Service Award was presented to Roland Lajoie of Morrisville’s WLVB-FM. In 2000, Lajoie was approached by local businessman Chris Potter to start a campaign to collect frozen turkeys for needy families who would otherwise go without on Thanksgiving.
The first year, 250 turkeys were collected. Potter died of cancer the next year, so the station renamed the campaign in his honor. Last year, the WLVB Chris’ Challenge Turkey Drive collected 1,344 turkeys and $2000 cash for five local food shelf operators. Over the years, more than 13,000 turkeys have been donated.