Three individuals will be enshrined in the Vermont Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame later this year. The VAB has announced that the trio of honorees will include VOX AM/FM owner and General Manager Ken Barlow, Local 22 WVNY/Local 44 WFFF Operations Director Ken Kasz and longtime WJOY morning host Ginny McGehee.
In addition, the VAB has announced the 2015 Broadcaster of the Year award will be presented to the WPTZ-TV/WNNE-TV news team for its outstanding coverage of the Dannemora prison escape.
Longtime WPTZ-TV news reporter and Vermont PBS host Stewart Ledbetter will receive the VAB’s Distinguished Service Award in honor of his outstanding career.
The Alan H. Noyes Community Service Award will be presented to Rutland radio station WSYB-AM in honor of their long-running WSYB Christmas Fund campaign.
Ken Barlow began his broadcasting career at WCFR-AM in Springfield while still in high school. After college, Barlow worked as a full-time disc jockey and programmer at WKNE-AM in Keene, New Hampshire, WDOT-AM in Burlington, WKBR-AM in Manchester, New Hampshire and WPTR-AM in Albany, New York.
He returned to Vermont and bought WVNR-AM in Poultney, the first of many station acquisitions. Later, as a partner in Vox Communications and the Vox Radio Group, he put two local stations on the air, WCVP-FM (Champ 101.3) and WXPS, now WXZO-FM (Planet 96.7). The group also obtained WEZF-FM (Star 92.9) and WEAV-AM. The group sold the stations to Capstar, which merged with Clear Channel, which eventually sold the stations back to the group.
Barlow and his wife Lori also purchased WVTK-FM, licensed to Port Henry, NY with studios in Middlebury. Ken continues to do a regular air shift for WVTK.
Ken Kasz began his broadcasting career while attending SUNY Fredonia. He worked as an intern and part-time master control operator at WUTV-TV in Buffalo, New York while getting his degree. He then worked full-time for WUTV for a dozen years before joining WVNY-TV in Burlington as Director of Broadcast Operations. In that position, Ken oversaw all programming and operational aspects of the station. In 2005 Ken helped with the relocation of WVNY to the WFFF-TV studios in Colchester and later with the stations’ DTV transitions.
A ten-year veteran of the VAB Board of Directors, including two years as VAB President, Ken spearheaded efforts to increase subsidies to all Vermont radio and television stations to ensure FCC compliance through the Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program. He also helped all Vermont stations with financial assistance to successfully complete a mandatory upgrade of all Emergency Alert System receivers.
Ginny McGehee is the longest-serving full-time female radio personality in Vermont history. A native of Philadelphia, Ginny began her broadcasting career at WNBZ-AM in Saranac Lake, New York in 1980, where she hosted a daily show and broadcast local high school hockey and football play-by-play. In 1983, she moved to Burlington after being hired by WJOY Program Director Joel Najman.
Outside of a successful stint as the afternoon disc jockey on sister station WQCR-FM (now WOKO-FM), Ginny has spent most of her time on the air at WJOY. She and Steve Pelkey began hosting the weekday “Breakfast Table” program in 1993 and Ginny has hosted the show by herself for the past 15 years.
Ginny serves as Public Service Director for all five Hall Communications stations in Vermont. She also is a longtime board member of the Vermont and New Hampshire Chapter of the American Red Cross and is a former board member of Champlain Valley Crimestoppers.
She emcees numerous events, including the Alzheimer’s Walk and the Burlington Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. She received a Distinguished Service Award from the VAB in 2011. She and her husband, VAB Executive Director Jim Condon, live in Colchester.
Stewart Ledbetter is being honored for his 31 years of work as a News Reporter, News Anchor, News Director, Bureau Chief and Senior Political Reporter for WPTZ-TV/WNNE-TV, and for his eight years as the host of the reporters roundtable program “Vermont This Week” on Vermont PBS.
From the Amtrak Disaster in Williston just 3 months after he began in 1984, to the ice storm of 1998, and more late nights and weekends at the Vermont Statehouse than he would care to admit, Stewart has been there for all of the major news stories over the last three decades.
Recently, Stewart and his colleagues were recognized as a national Edward R. Murrow award winner for his station’s ongoing coverage of the DCF crisis in Vermont.
The Broadcaster of the Year Award will be presented to the WPTZ-TV news team for their coverage of the escapes from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.
Over 23 days, the WPTZ team was live for more than 100 hours with more than 1,000 live reports from the search area. The station often found itself in wall-to-wall coverage for hours at a time no matter the day or time-of-day. Those live reports were often at times when critical public safety information to lock doors and windows was being relayed in real time from law enforcement to the public through WPTZ’s airwaves.
The station has conducted its “WSYB Christmas Fund” campaign for more than 40 years. In that time, the station has raised more than one million dollars to provide gift cards to needy families so that they can purchase clothes and toys for their children.
The Snyder-Teffner award for excellence behind the scenes will be presented this year to Joe Tymecki of VPR. Click here for more information about Joe.
The VAB Hall of Fame Banquet will be held Saturday, December 5 at the Hilton Burlington.