Student production award recipients nominated for national competition


The Foundation of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) has announced the nominees for the 2023 National Student Production Awards, which includes five nominees from the Central Great Lakes chapter.

Nominees were selected from high school student entries across the country in 24 programming and craft categories.

Carroll High School in Fort Wayne was nominated for two national awards, in the categories of Multimedia Journalist/Video Essay and Talent/Performer.

Zoi Garwood earned a Student Production Award in our chapter for MMJ/Video Essay and was also awarded a National Student Production Award for her piece on the Bayan Yunis Art Awards (see her winning moment in the above video!)

In the Talent/Performer category, Jaina Berry earned a regional student award and a national nomination in the NSPA’s for her work on the ‘Baby Hotline’ video produced at Carroll, where instructor Bob Johnson serves as student advisor.

Under the direction of advisor Armando Valentine, Massillon Perry High School earned a regional award and a national nomination in the Commercial category for its video on the ‘MAPS Museum: Where History Takes Flight’

Massillon Washington High School also earned a regional award and a national nomination in the NSPA’s in the category of Live Sporting Event/Game.

Several students were involved in the submission including Robert Fraelich, Brayden Geier, Sebastien Cary, Katelyn Allen, Kendrick Mellows, Matt Gingras, Addison Forero, Cadyn Sheegog, Evan Shepard, and advisor Matthew J Ferrell.

Eagle Tech Academy in Columbia City also earned a regional award and a national nomination in the category of Fiction-Long Form for a piece called ‘Equivocal’ submitted by Jack Mills, Ian Harrold, Jackson Moore, and Peyton Pope, under the direction of advisor Melanie Mason.

“Every year, we at the Academy are thrilled to showcase the work of the next generation of our industry’s leaders and creators, in our National Student Production Awards. And every year we are amazed at the quality of work being created by these exceptional young people from across the country. This year is no exception!” said NATAS chairman Terry O’Reilly.

“In a dazzling showcase of talent this year’s entries are a testament of the next generation’s ability to tell beautiful, impactful and important stories.“ said Dannielle Mannion, NATAS Foundation education chair. “Our foundation is proud to honor these students who will be shaping the landscape of the television industry.”

This year’s submissions were successfully culled from more than 2000 entries from the regional chapters of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Entries were judged by selected industry professionals and media academics.

National student award recipients were announced in February on a web stream produced by NATAS. This and all NATAS ceremonies are available on NATAS’ dedicated viewing platform powered by Vimeo, available on the web at Watch.TheEmmys.TV and via The Emmys® apps for iOS, tvOS, Android, FireTV, Roku and Samsung TV (full list at apps.theemmys.tv)

Board of Governors’ Award presented to John Stealey


CLEVELAND – The NATAS Central Great Lakes chapter’s board of governors is proud to present its prestigious Board of Governor’s Award to former chapter president and veteran gala producer John Stealey for his tireless work on behalf of the chapter.

The board’s unanimous decision was based on John’s many contributions to the chapter through the years, particularly these last few years when he found so many new ways for our chapter to connect and celebrate our galas virtually during the pandemic.  

“John has contributed a great deal of his time and resources to our chapter through the years and has been the creative force behind so many of our projects,” said chapter president Dan Spehler. “He’s been the heartbeat of our chapter, and is incredibly deserving of this most prestigious honor.” 

Here are some more of the comments from board members about this award: 

One board member said: “A great choice. He has been dedicated to the Chapter, a strong advocate for us in National matters and a tireless worker on all things Gala-related.” 

Other board members said: “YES 10,000 percent YES! … He’s very deserving and has great ideas.” 

Congratulations, John!

Gold & Silver Circle committee welcomes this year’s class of honorees


CLEVELAND – The NATAS Central Great Lakes chapter’s Gold & Silver Circle committee is proud to welcome seven longtime members into its illustrious Gold and Silver Circle this summer.

This year the chapter’s Gold & Silver Circle committee invited longtime executive John Butte into the chapter’s prestigious Gold Circle to honor his 50+ year career serving various roles in the broadcasting industry.

“John is one of those people in our industry whose name is synonymous with the advancement of our industry over the last 58 years, the latter half spent contributing to our NATAS chapter. John is a pioneer, an innovator, and a generous mentor,” said WKYC’s David Hrvatin, who nominated Butte.

This year the chapter is also welcoming several industry veterans into our Silver Circle to mark more than 25 years in the industry: Dr. Phil Hoffman, Tim Pollard, Kevin Rader, Mark Rosenberger, Jim Shella, Patty Spitler and Jamie Suiter.

Here’s what some of their colleagues had to say about them upon nominating them for this honor:

Dr. Phil Hoffman is Assistant Dean of Media and General Manager of Ball State’s PBS, and also serves as co-chair for the NATAS Central Great Lakes education committee. Hoffman has served the television industry for over 35 years. Starting out as a reporter with WAKC-TV ABC in Akron, he moved to leadership position in public television, including KMOS-PBS in Missouri and WUCF-PBS in Orlando. His most significant contribution is his dedication to education. As Dean of Media & General Manager of Ball State PBS he has mentored and contributed to the career of countless students over more than two decades.

Tim Pollard began his career with CNN in 1983 as an entry-level video journalist running studio camera, TelePrompTer, and floor directing. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a supervisor for CNN’s global field operations, and later operations manager for CNN’s Washington, D.C., Bureau. In 1998 he joined the College of Communication, Information, and Media at Ball State University where he was responsible for the development of numerous innovative, immersive, and real-world news production programs.

Kevin Rader was drawn to radio as a teenager doing a stint as weekend DJ for his hometown KAMI in Nebraska. He moved to television when he joined Nebraska Television Network early in his professional career, and in 1990 he joined WTHR-TV in Indianapolis for 30 memorable years. As trusted reporter and broadcast journalist, he earned more than thirty Regional Emmy Awards and Edward R. Murrow awards (including two national awards). Just before his retirement in 2020, Kevin was awarded Indiana’s prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash.

*Mark Rosenberger has had a distinguished career in public television serving in leadership positions for WVIZ Cleveland for more than 35 years. Committed to the ideal of helping all people better understand the world around them, he has produced, spearheaded, and managed programs about education, health, the arts, culture, and the economy. He has won countless regional and national Emmys, Obies, film festival and other awards, and currently serves as the Chief Content Officer for Ideastream Public Media.

During his 30+ year career at WISH-TV, Jim Shella covered Indiana politics longer than any other television reporter in the state.  He followed six governors, covered 14 national conventions and interviewed hundreds of politicians, and broke multiple stories.  Greatly missed by his viewers, Jim retired from WISH-TV in 2016. He was twice honored with a “Sagamore of the Wabash” by two different Indiana Governors.

With nearly 50 years of service Patty Spitler has served as an exemplar within the field of radio and TV broadcasting. Originally From Dayton, Ohio, Patty served as a news anchor and entertainment reporter for WISH-TV in Indianapolis until her retirement in 2004. Since then she has become known as an author, the host and executive producer of “Great Day TV” and “Pet Pals TV” and as a visiting co-host on the station’s weekday life-style show, and much more. Patty was one of the first female “morning drive” radio disc jockeys in the country. Known for her spirit and professionalism, Patty also is a selfless, and dedicated volunteer.

Few photographers have had a greater impact on the success of television stations in the Central Great Lakes Chapter than Jamie Suiter. His career in Indianapolis began more than 30 years ago when he became part of the team that launched Fox 59 News in Indianapolis in 1991, one of the most successful news launches in the history of the network. Over the years Jamie has won countless Emmy awards and nominations. Beyond these personal achievements, and despite a daunting workload, Jamie also takes the time to mentor the stations younger staff.

This year’s class was recognized at our Gold & Silver Celebration luncheon at 3UP in Carmel, IN just north of Indianapolis.

*Butte and Rosenberger will be inducted into the Gold & Silver Circle next year in Cleveland.

June 17th Regional Emmy® Awards Gala at LaCentre Westlake


CLEVELAND – This year’s 54th Great Lakes Regional Emmy® Awards gala which will be held Saturday, June 17th at 7:30pm at the LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility in Westlake, OH.

The evening’s events will begin with cocktail hour starting at 5pm and dinner service around 6:00pm. Introductions & announcements will take place around 7pm with a recognition of our student award recipients, with the awards gala itself beginning at 7:30pm.

TV & radio personality Laura Steele will serve as emcee for this year’s “Studio 54” disco-themed event to coincide with our 54th anniversary.

Please note:

Hotel capacity is somewhat limited near the venue, so if you’re coming from out of town, we would recommend booking a hotel room upon (or before) purchasing your tickets for the gala.

There are several hotels along the I-90 corridor near the venue in the $200-$300 price range:

*TownePlace Suites by Marriot Westlake – same exit as venue

*Doubletree by Hilton Cleveland Westlake – 5 minutes from the venue

*Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriot Cleveland Avon – 10 minutes from the venue

Further from the venue, there are also still some highly-rated hotels available in Downtown Cleveland should you wish to explore the Downtown area during your visit.

‘Centered on Excellence’ webinar series explores important topics in TV news


Our organization is truly ‘centered on excellence’ and not only when it comes to awarding excellence at our annual awards gala, but also with informative programming for our members to help inspire and instruct the next generation of broadcast journalists and other producers of video-based programming.

Our webinar series launched in 2021, with our first edition focused on the topic of “Informing Our Viewers & Earning Their Trust in Divisive & Dangerous Times” featuring former WTHR reporter Kevin Rader, former WEWS reporter Ron Regan, Indiana University’s senior visiting lecturer Cheryl Owsley Jackson, and Carolyn Robinson from the Solutions Journalism Network.

In 2022, our series continued with a webinar focused on “Earning An Emmy: Superb Storytelling & Journalism That Matters” with WKYC’s Leon Bibb, investigative reporter Carl Monday, IU professor/former WTHR anchor Anne Ryder, and WXIN/WTTV reporter Mike Sullivan.

Other topics covered in 2022 included “Covering Our Communities” focused on diversity-related topics with WOIO’s Harry Boomer, WXIN’s Beairshelle Edme, WISH-TV’s Katiera Winfrey and WOIO’s Sia Nyorkor, and “Surviving & Thriving” which focused on “Making TV Magic in the Midst of the Pandemic” with WTOL’s Tiffany Tarpley, Bally Sports’ Chris Denari and Jaime Berns and “Finding Your First Job (or your next job) in TV” with WISH-TV’s Anthony Calhoun, WEWS anchor Rob Powers, former WPTA news director Jonathan Shelley and IU’s Anne Ryder.

Our series returned in 2023 with a look at “The State of Our Industry & Life After TV” with former WTOL anchor Chrys Peterson, former WTHR community services director Angela Cain, and Talent Dynamics CEO Gary Brown, who also served as news director at WUPW.

Also in 2023, our webinar series went on the road to John Carroll University for a sit-down conversation with JCU journalist-in-residence and former NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams.

If you missed any of our webinars, you can watch them here:

Centered on Excellence webinar with Pete Williams

June 25th Regional Emmy® Awards Gala at Lucas Estate


INDIANAPOLIS – After two years of virtual shows, this year’s Great Lakes Regional Emmy® Awards gala will be held Saturday, June 25th at 7:30pm on the grounds of the magnificent Lucas Estate in Carmel, Indiana, with the Indianapolis Colts serving as the official sponsor.

“We’re extremely honored to partner with the Colts and invite our nominees out to Indy,” said Central Great Lakes chapter president Dan Spehler. “Outside of a few small watch parties, we haven’t been able to gather in person these last two years, and we can’t wait to celebrate the occasion in style.”

Saturday night’s gala will be held outdoors on the grounds of the Lucas Estate at 1143 W. 116th St. in Carmel, with cocktail hour starting at 5pm and carving stations/dinner buffet opening around 5:30pm. Introductions & announcements will take place around 7pm, with the awards gala itself beginning at 7:30pm.

With the gala being held outdoors, plan for warm weather, and feel free to dress accordingly.

For your comfort, there will be both indoor and outdoor spaces available on site to gather and watch the show.

“We’re so thankful for the team at the Lucas Estate,” Spehler added. “In another year where we’ve had to improvise and change plans from time to time, this event will be a lovely way to celebrate our chapter’s accomplishments in an elegant and comfortable environment.”

The Central Great Lakes chapter would also like to recognize Tabatha Starcher, director of brand engagement and business development for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, who was instrumental in forming this new partnership with the Colts.

“The NFL and its franchises submit amazing work both on the national and regional to the Emmys® every year,” said Starcher. “It’s exciting to be partnering with the Indianapolis Colts and we look forward to working with them in delivering a great ceremony as we celebrate our return to ‘in-person’ events in 2022.”

Colts sideline reporter Larra Overton will serve as this year’s emcee, with local media personality Laura Steele interviewing attendees on the red carpet as they arrive at the Lucas Estate.

You can also watch a livestream of the gala via the Watch.TheEmmys.TV app, or on our web site at GreatLakesEmmys.tv via our YouTube and Facebook platforms.

“The Great Lakes Chapter is excited about bringing the awards gala to Indy for the 4th time,” said executive director Bob Hammer. “Since annexing most of Indiana to the then ‘Cleveland Chapter’ in 1988, we have seen tremendous response from the television professionals in the Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and West Lafayette markets.  We are adding new categories to include streaming and internet video, which opens new areas for Emmy® recognition.”

Please note:

Hotel capacity is somewhat limited near the venue, as there are always many events occurring in the Indianapolis area. If you’re coming from out of town, we would recommend booking a hotel room upon (or before) purchasing your tickets for the gala.

For a limited time, there is a group rate available ($199/night) at the Hyatt Place/Hyatt House in nearby Fishers, IN. 

Reservations can be made online or by calling 1 (888) 591-1234 and asking for the Emmy Awards Gala room block at the Hyatt House Fishers, or referencing group code G-EAG6

Additionally, two highly-rated hotels closer to the venue in Carmel are offering rooms in the $200-$300 range:

*Renaissance Indianapolis North – Carmel – 5 minutes from the venue

*Marriott Indianapolis North (Keystone) – 5-10 minutes from the venue

There are also rooms available for $100-$200 in NW Indianapolis, 10 minutes from the venue:

*Extended Stay America Suites Indianapolis Northwest I465

*LaQuinta Inn by Wyndham Indianapolis North at Pyramids

Further from the venue, there are also still some highly-rated hotels available in Downtown Indianapolis should you wish to explore the Downtown area during your visit:

*The Alexander, a Dolce by Wyndham

*Omni Severin Hotel – Downtown Indianapolis

Silver Circle inductees honored at event in Cleveland


CLEVELAND – The NATAS Central Great Lakes chapter’s Gold & Silver Circle committee is proud to welcome four longtime members into its illustrious Silver Circle this summer, marking the occasion at an event that also honored four new Gold Circle inductees who are currently in our Silver Circle.

Gold Circle honorees Leon Bibb, Harry Boomer, Bob Hammer and Carl Monday were officially inducted at a special Gold & Silver Circle luncheon event July 24th at the Lakeside Event Center in Cleveland, along with this year’s class of Silver Circle inductees, Linda Jackson, Chuck Lofton, Lisa Lowry and Joe Pagonakis.

Linda Jackson has served the Fort Wayne market for more than 33 years as a television producer, anchor, mentor to aspiring journalists, and as an engaged volunteer and champion for the community.  Her many awards include an induction to the Hall of Fame by Indiana Broadcasters Association.

Chuck Lofton has been in television for almost 43 years. He joined WTHR in 1985 and since then has served Hoosiers as weather reporter, mentor, and volunteer. His gifts as meteorologist and storyteller have earned him numerous awards, including the Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2007 National Broadcaster of the Year from the National Weather Service, and he was named Prodigy of Indianapolis.

Lisa Lowry has over 40 years in the industry as an assignment editor in the WKYC newsroom. She is much revered by her colleagues, who speak of her as the “heart of the newsroom” and the impact she has had on her community and the profession at large.

Joe Pagonakis is a veteran journalist who has served our chapter in three of its markets: Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and, since the late 1990s, Cleveland. As an investigative reporter, Joe has served his community and profession with integrity. He inspires his co-workers, is a role model for interns, and has earned the respect even of those who were the target of his stories.

June 25th Regional Emmy® Awards Gala at Lucas Estate


INDIANAPOLIS – After two years of virtual shows, this year’s Great Lakes Regional Emmy® Awards gala will be held Saturday, June 25th at 7:30pm on the grounds of the magnificent Lucas Estate in Carmel, Indiana, with the Indianapolis Colts serving as the official sponsor.

“We’re extremely honored to partner with the Colts and invite our nominees out to Indy,” said Central Great Lakes chapter president Dan Spehler. “Outside of a few small watch parties, we haven’t been able to gather in person these last two years, and we can’t wait to celebrate the occasion in style with everyone again in June.”

Weather permitting, this year’s gala will be held outdoors on the grounds of the Lucas Estate at 1143 W. 116th St. in Carmel, with cocktail hour starting at 5pm and carving stations/dinner buffet available from 5:30pm until 8:00. Valet service will also be provided.

With the gala being held outdoors, plan for warm weather, and feel free to dress accordingly.

For your comfort, there will be both indoor and outdoor spaces available on site to gather and watch the show.

“We’re so thankful for the team at the Lucas Estate,” Spehler added. “In another year where we’ve had to improvise and change plans from time to time, this event will be a lovely way to celebrate our chapter’s accomplishments in an elegant and comfortable environment. Our recent survey showed that an overwhelming majority of our members wanted to be back in person, and we’re eager to see everyone again this summer.”

The Central Great Lakes chapter would also like to recognize Tabatha Starcher, director of brand engagement and business development for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, who was instrumental in forming this new partnership with the Colts.

“The NFL and its franchises submit amazing work both on the national and regional to the Emmys® every year,” said Starcher. “It’s exciting to be partnering with the Indianapolis Colts and we look forward to working with them in delivering a great ceremony as we celebrate our return to ‘in-person’ events in 2022.”

Colts sideline reporter Larra Overton will serve as this year’s emcee, with local media personality Laura Steele interviewing attendees on the red carpet as they arrive at the Lucas Estate.

“The Great Lakes Chapter is excited about bringing the awards gala to Indy for the 4th time,” said executive director Bob Hammer. “Since annexing most of Indiana to the then ‘Cleveland Chapter’ in 1988, we have seen tremendous response from the television professionals in the Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and West Lafayette markets.  We are adding new categories to include streaming and internet video, which opens new areas for Emmy® recognition.”

Please note:

Hotel capacity is somewhat limited near the venue, as there are always many events occurring in the Indianapolis area. If you’re coming from out of town, we would recommend booking a hotel room upon (or before) purchasing your tickets for the gala.

For a limited time, there is a group rate available ($199/night) at the Hyatt Place/Hyatt House in nearby Fishers, IN. 

Reservations can be made online or by calling 1 (888) 591-1234 and asking for the Emmy Awards Gala room block at the Hyatt House Fishers, or referencing group code G-EAG6

Additionally, two highly-rated hotels closer to the venue in Carmel are offering rooms in the $200-$300 range:

*Renaissance Indianapolis North – Carmel – 5 minutes from the venue

*Marriott Indianapolis North (Keystone) – 5-10 minutes from the venue

There are also rooms available for $100-$200 in NW Indianapolis, 10 minutes from the venue:

*Extended Stay America Suites Indianapolis Northwest I465

*LaQuinta Inn by Wyndham Indianapolis North at Pyramids

Further from the venue, there are also still some highly-rated hotels available in Downtown Indianapolis should you wish to explore the Downtown area during your visit:

*The Alexander, a Dolce by Wyndham

*Omni Severin Hotel – Downtown Indianapolis

Gold & Silver Circle inductees honored at event in Cleveland


CLEVELAND – The NATAS Central Great Lakes chapter’s Gold & Silver Circle committee is proud to welcome four longtime members and current Silver Circle inductees into the chapter’s prestigious Gold Circle.

Gold Circle honorees Leon Bibb, Harry Boomer, Bob Hammer and Carl Monday were officially inducted at a special Gold & Silver Circle luncheon event July 24th at the Lakeside Event Center in Cleveland, along with this year’s class of Silver Circle inductees which includes Linda Jackson, Chuck Lofton, Lisa Lowry and Joe Pagonakis.

Leon Bibb began his television career at WTOL in Toledo in 1971, and also worked in Columbus before returning to his native Cleveland to join the team at WKYC, where he would eventually serve as evening news anchor.

From 1995 to 2017, he anchored various newscasts at WEWS, before returning to WKYC in 2018 as a senior reporter and commentator.

Harry Boomer‘s broadcasting career also began in 1971, with the bulk of that time being spent (since the early 90’s) at Cleveland’s WOIO/WUAB, where he still works as a general assignment reporter and as host and executive producer of 43 Focus.

The chapter surprised Boomer with the news during our recent monthly webinar focused on “Covering Our Communities: The Importance of Inclusion & Diversity” as part of the ‘Centered on Excellence’ webinar series.

The board of governors also recognized executive director Bob Hammer‘s accomplishments, announcing his invitation to the Gold Circle this year.

With over 50 years in the television and entertainment business as an executive producer, commercial producer, writer and director, Hammer is a former chapter president, our longtime awards administrator and currently serves as our chapter’s Executive Director. He began his television career in 1966 at KAKE in Wichita, Kansas.

Currently serving as our chapter’s regional vice president, Carl Monday has also worked 50 years at various television and radio stations in the Cleveland market, serving as an award-winning investigative reporter after starting out on the air on WJAN-TV in Canton while still a junior in college.

Over the years, Monday has won some 50 regional Emmy® awards for his work with WJW’s “I-Team” and other investigative reporting teams across the city.

NATAS CGL announces more Gold Circle honorees


The NATAS Central Great Lakes chapter’s Gold & Silver Circle committee is proud to welcome two additional longtime Cleveland TV veterans into its prestigious Gold Circle to mark 50 years in the broadcasting industry!

WOIO-TV’s Harry Boomer and longtime Central Great Lakes chapter administrator Bob Hammer had both been members of the chapter’s Silver Circle and will now be ‘graduated’ into our Gold Circle later this year to honor their 50 years of accomplishments in our industry.

Boomer’s broadcasting career began in 1971 and has been working at Cleveland’s WOIO/WUAB since the early 90’s, where he still works as a general assignment reporter and as host and executive producer of 43 Focus.

In the video above, see Boomer’s reaction upon the recognition being announced during our recent monthly webinar focused on “Covering Our Communities: The Importance of Inclusion & Diversity” as part of the ‘Centered on Excellence’ webinar series.

Earlier this month, the chapter also announced that longtime Cleveland journalists Leon Bibb and Carl Monday were invited into Gold Circle for their many contributions to the region.

Bibb began his television career at WTOL in Toledo in 1971, and also worked in Columbus before returning to his native Cleveland to join the team at WKYC, where he would eventually serve as evening news anchor.

From 1995 to 2017, he anchored various newscasts at WEWS, before returning to WKYC in 2018 as a senior reporter and commentator.

Currently serving as our chapter’s regional vice president, Monday has also worked 50 years at various television and radio stations in the Cleveland market, serving as an award-winning investigative reporter after starting out on the air on WJAN-TV in Canton while still a junior in college. Over the years, Monday has won some 50 regional Emmy® awards for his work with WJW’s “I-Team” and other investigative reporting teams across the city.

Monday and Bibb were also members of the chapter’s Silver Circle, marking more than 25 years in the business.

Their ‘graduation’ to the Gold Circle will officially be recognized by the chapter this summer.

In the video below, the board of governors recognizes executive director Bob Hammer’s accomplishments, announcing his invitation to the Gold Circle this year.

With over 50 years in the television and entertainment business as an executive producer, commercial producer, writer and director, Hammer is a former chapter president, our longtime awards administrator and currently serves as our chapter’s Executive Director.