LAS VEGAS — There were some smiles and some cheers, and a few standing ovations, at the inaugural NAB Achievement in Broadcasting awards dinner held Monday evening at the Encore Las Vegas resort ballroom tucked away deep inside the posh Strip-side venue.
Some of the biggest applause at the ascap-sponsored event was given to a big syndicated morning host based in the Big Apple … and an NAB veteran who attendees learned via a surprise announcement will be receiving the prestigious 2018 National Radio Award.
Speaking from the podium, NAB President/CEO and former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith revealed that this year’s award for distinguished service to the radio industry will go to John David.
David on Feb. 1 stepped down from his role as EVP of NAB Radio to become a Senior Advisor to the NAB. The shift concluded a remarkable run at the broadcast media industry’s biggest lobbying and advocacy group.
David joined NAB in 1989 as VP of NAB Broadcaster Congressional Relations, where he was responsible for state broadcaster associations, the NAB political action committee and the legislative liaison committee for grass roots lobbying. In 1992, he became SVP of NAB Radio and was promoted in 1998 to EVP, where he had been NAB’s radio liaison for membership and service to NAB member radio stations.
He also has overseen radio sessions at the NAB Show in Las Vegas and the Radio Show, and radio awards programs including the National Radio Award, the NAB Crystal Radio Awards and the NAB Marconi Radio Awards. Additionally, David has been Executive Producer of the Marconi Radio Awards dinner and show for 27 years.
While the award certainly recognizes his achievements at the NAB, David had a distinguished career in radio management at stations in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas before moving to Washington, D.C.
From 1971-1988, he was EVP of J. R. Broadcasting Company as owner and GM of radio stations in Missouri and Kansas. Later, from 1984-1988, David represented Kansas and Missouri as a member of the NAB Radio Board. He is a past president of the Missouri Broadcasters Association, a recipient of Missouri’s Distinguished Broadcaster Award, and is a member of both the Oklahoma and Missouri broadcasters’ Hall of Fame.
Streamline Publishing’s co-owned Radio INK magazine named David to its list of the Top 40 Most Powerful People in Radio since 2000, and he was a recipient of the Ward Quaal Leadership Award from the Broadcasters Foundation of America at the NAB Show in 2017.
ELVIS IS IN THE BUILDING
What would Las Vegas be without an Elvis sighting? This one proved to be emotional for the Elvis in the spotlight at the Achievement in Broadcasting event, as iHeartMedia syndicated morning personality Elvis Duran became the latest inductee into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Duran, whose Elvis Duran and the Morning Show is based at iHeartMedia’s WHTZ-FM “Z100” in New York and is nationally distributed by Premiere Networks, has been associated with the station Scott Shannon signed on the air on Aug. 2, 1983 since the early 1990s.
He has also been a host and PD at WIOQ-FM “Q102” in Philadelphia and worked at KRBE-FM 104.1 in Houston in the mid-1980s. Other station stops include the former WZGC “Z93” in Atlanta.
In a five-minute acceptance speech following Duran’s procession to the stage as Judy Garland’s “The Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St. Louis played, Duran remarked:
This is kind of creepy. I’m not accustomed to this. I just do what I love and I am doing the only thing I know how to do. I know a lot of people in this room would agree … You just do what you love.
Duran had just returned from the RadioDays Europe convention in Vienna, Austria. Working through his nervousness in accepting the Hall of Fame induction, he recalled his experience at last week’s event — the continental equivalent of the Radio Show held each year by the NAB and RAB. “Radio is so alive. It’s so relevant. It is still what it used to be, what it’s always been — that one-on-one connection that we can do, and you can’t really do anywhere else … other than hosting Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune.”
The other Broadcasting Hall of Fame inducees for 2018, also in attendance, were Vanna White, Pat Sajak and Alex Trebek.
Duran called it “totally crazy” to be inducted into a Hall of Fame on the same night as the famed TV personalities. “I am so, so in awe,” he said.
Duran then turned his attention to the managers in the room, “and how you elevate talent and you appreciate how talent really is. It is a very, very important part of what we do and what you do to succeed.”
From there, Duran recalled how as a young boy in Dallas he became enamored with legendary air personality Ron Chapman. “He’s the reason I am in radio,” Duran said, noting how he remembers Chapman on KVIL-FM 103.7 in Dallas playing Lobo’s “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” in 1971 while he was sitting on his grandmother’s couch.
That struck such a strong chord in Chapman that Duran wrote a letter to him saying, “Hey, I want to be in radio. I think that’s kind of cool … all the buttons you push, and you get to play records.” How did Chapman respond? “It’s not about the buttons. It’s about the words you use and how you paint pictures with words. And, I’ve never forgotten that.”
Flash-forward to the 1990s, when Duran was in afternoon drive at Z100 and he ran into Chapman at a NAB Radio Show in Boston. He recalled the Lobo story, to which Chapman replied, “Well, I guess you owe me a ‘Thank You,’ don’t you?” before walking away.
Duran concluded, “I was seduced by radio at a very early age and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I worked at Baskin-Robbins for a moment and I was a failure … and maybe soon I’ll be back there. What you do … what we do … is so important. We connect with people. It’s not about transmitters. It is not about ad rates. It is about connecting with people and for that reason alone I wake up and go to work every morning.”
And, with that, Duran left to nap before starting Tuesday’s morning show live from Las Vegas, at 1am Pacific.