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Las Vegas Society News  

Note: This is a past article from September 12, 2016
You can find the current Las Vegas Society News article HERE


By Dr. Adele Zorn

Eric Bonnici Executive Director NVBF and Mary Beth Sewald NVBA President and CEO

The 21st Annual Nevada Broadcasters Association (NVBA) and Foundation (NVBF) HALL OF FAME GALA–recognizing and showcasing excellence in Nevada's radio and television industry was a momentous celebration. The Gala was held at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Hall of Fame NVBA Awards were:

President’s Award: NV Governor Brian Sandoval and Kathleen Sandoval

Pinnacle Award: Senator Gordon Smith, President & CEO, NAB

Lifetime Achievement Awards: Emily Neilson and Paula Francis

Special Honors: Tony Sacca and the late Rich Abajian

Thirty-Nine Broadcasters (39) Inductees

The Nevada Broadcasters Association is dedicated to protecting, promoting, enhancing and strengthening Nevada’s broadcast industry. As a lobbying organization, NVBA seeks to educate Nevada's local, state and federal officials and other community leaders about the issues, concerns and challenges Broadcasters face. The NVBA also serves as Nevada’s voice for Homeland Security, Public Warnings and Nevada's Voice for AMBER Alert.

The evening started with a Cocktail Reception and Silent Auction. All money raised at the Hall of Fame Silent and Live Auctions goes directly to support the (NVBF) Nevada Broadcasters Foundation’s Tony and Linda Bonnici Broadcasting Scholarship Fund. This scholarship is unique in that it is a scholarship by Broadcasters for Broadcasters.

NVBF finds the very best broadcasting and journalism students in Nevada and empowers them to pursue their dream by awarding scholarships. The Broadcasting Scholarship Fund provides up to full tuition scholarships to students attending Nevada’s Colleges and Universities. Eighty-five (85) scholarships have been awarded over the past six (6) years to talented and dedicated students of Broadcasting in Nevada. The Class of 2016 was presented and filled the stage along with the very capable and passionate NVBF founders – Tony Bonnici, (President) Linda Bonnici (Vice-President) and Eric Bonnici (Executive Director).

Linda and Tony Bonnici with 2016 NVBF Scholarship Recipients

Kristine Anderson NV Broadcasters Foundation

Nevada Army National Guard

Guests entered the main ballroom for dinner, program and ceremonies. All stood in allegiance for the National Anthem beautifully sung by Staff Sergeant Michael Rusell of the Nevada Army National Guard.

M.C. Chet Buchanan

Caroline Beasley CEO and CFO Beasley Media Group

Chet Buchanan, KLUC FM Las Vegas was Master of Ceremonies. He introduced Mary Beth Sewald, President, CEO Nevada Broadcaster Association who spoke and welcomed everyone. Next, Todd Brown, Chairman of NVBA Board of Directors talked about the NVBA. Caroline Beasley CEO, CFO of NV Beasley Media Group and the National Beasley Network was next to speak.

The Honorary Awards were then presented. Each of the Honorary Awardees had a video shown about them with esteemed notables praising their efforts. They were then introduced by a distinguished well-known individual before they took the stage and were awarded their prized award.

Each spoke and had the opportunity to express themselves.

Governor Brian Sandoval and Mrs. Kathleen Sandoval awards speech

President’s Award – Governor Brian Sandoval and First Lady Kathleen Sandoval. Both spoke and were thrilled with their award. Kathleen is Director of Operation for the Children’s Cabinet and feels so blessed she is able to work with and help children.

Pinnacle Award – Gordon H. Smith NAB President and CEO. Senator Harry Reid introduced him with glowing adjectives, although during the time both were Senators they were political adversaries on opposite sides.

Senator Harry Reid introduces Hon. Gordon Smith Pinnacle Awardee

Gordon Smith - Pinnacle Award

Both Reid and Smith had their lives complicated by the serious issue of suicide. Reid thanked Gordon Smith for his innovation in bringing this issue that is not usually talked about into public awareness. This helps in many ways and may even prevent suicide and if not, may help those in its aftermath.

Gordon spoke, received a standing ovation and thanked all for his Award.

Tony Sacca - honoree with Josette Leblond and Dr. Adele Zorn

Tony Sacca

Honoree Special Honors was awarded toTony Sacca for 50 years in Show Biz. Since 1988 Tony has been on Television and has produced over 1200 episodes featuring hundred of celebrity interviews and more on his shows “Entertainment Las Vegas Style A look Back” and “Classic Vegas Entertainment”- both airing locally and nationally. His theme song is “Las Vegas The Greatest Town Around” which Tony wrote. Tony told about his background and thanked many who helped.

Honoree Special Honors was awarded to the late Rich Abajian General Manager and Co-owner of Findlay Toyota. Rich Abajian had suddenly passed away February 2016. His amazing Life Story was told and was combined with sadness and humor. His accomlishments and humanitarism would make a lifetime story for more than one person. Television commercials with John Barr were clever and funny and “I will do anything to sell you a Car” became retained by the public. Rich Abajian’s wife was called onstage to receive his award.

Rich Abajian - posthumously honored

Emily Neilson - Lifetime Achievement Award

Two remarkable women Emily Thomas Neilson and Paula Francis received Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree Emily Thomas Neilson.

George Knapp KLAS Chief Investigative Reporter and Anchor admirably introduced Emily and told some stories about her.

Emily Thomas Neilson is now retired from KLAS after 35 years. She told how she rose through the ranks from secretary to President and General Manager of CBS Affiliate KLAS TV. Her emphasis was mostly in the news department. Under Emily’s leadership she launched the first local television website in the U.S. and started the first Investigative Unit resulting in four prestigious national awards for the station and its team.

Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree Paula Francis Anchor KLAS TV

Gary Waddell introduces honoree Paula Francis

Paula Francis - Lifetime Achievement Award

Paula Francis and Husband

Gary Wadell retired KLAV long term Anchor delightfully told some stories about the time they worked together He then introduced Paula Francis.

Paula’s acceptance speech told about her experiences at KLAS and how she feels broadcasting the news with true facts is a privilege.

Often chosen Best TV Anchor in Las Vegas and called “The Face of Channel 8” during the 28 years she was on KLAS TV. Paula served as Anchor, Reporter, Host, started Buddy Check 8 campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness and has received many humanitarian wards for her community involvement. Paula gave some good advice to those now in the business of Broadcasting and thanked many who had helped her. I’ve known and admired Paula Francis ever since she was Paula Dilworth on Channel 13. Her naturalness and smiling face has created her popularity and longevity with the public. Paula retired in April from KLAS and is really missed by the Station and the Public.

The Program and Awards continued between individual dinner courses that were presented in exceptionally unique arrangements and all extremely delicious.

Dinner Menu:

Cucumber wrapped Baby Greens Salad with Spiced Poached Pears,

Roasted Apples, Almond Brittle and Mediterranean Vinaigrette
Duet Entrée: Soy Mirain Glazed Salmon and Baby Bok Choy
Red Wine Braised Short Rib, Grilled Mushrooms,
Vegetables and Whipped Potatoes
Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake

Dark Chocolate and Caramel Sauce
Cinnamon Ice Cream

Then it was time for the 39 Nevada Broadcasters to be inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Each inductee has served broadcasting a minimum of 20 years, with 5 of those years in Nevada. Each inductee was called onstage, given their award, and had their picture taken with NVBA President Mary Beth Sewald.

Chuck N. Baker - one of the 39 Broadcasters inducted into the Hall of Fame

Former Nevada Governor and U.S. Senator Richard Bryan and Dr. Adele Zorn

Too many names of the 39 inductees for me to mention in this article, however a beautiful booklet had all Inductees and Awards pictures and Bio included.

I do want to mention a particular Inductee Bob Fisher . In 1994 Robert Bob Fisher was the first full time professional President and CEO of the Nevada Broadcasters Association until his retirement in 2014. Many significant achievements occurred under his leadership that still continue.

Bob Fisher

John Daly and Dr. Adele Zorn

And, Inductee, John Daly who no longer lives in Nevada but was a very popular and significant Nevada Broadcaster. In 1990, John became KTNV-TV 13 Las Vegas Main News Anchor and Managing Editor. Under his leadership and innovative broadcasting, KTNV ratings jumped from last place to a competitive second place. Although living back East with his lovely wife Teri, John (very handsome) is still very much involved in Broadcasting venues.

Besides the inductees, an amazing amount of Broadcasters from different areas of Nevada attended and were recognized.

Unfortunately, many Broadcasters had passed since the last Gala and a Memorial Video was shown to acknowledge them.

An exciting Live Auction had fabulous items including an adorable puppy dog and brought in $44,550 for the Nevada Broadcasters Foundation NVBF.

Auction winner of puppy dog



And so ended an incredible evening dedicated to BROADCASTERS.

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